As if truckers are not battling enough right now with the lowest rates in years and COVID-19, now drivers are faced with the grim reality, they might find themselves at an increased risk of personal injury or even death for simply doing their jobs as peaceful protests turn to violent riots across the country.
Truckers are no strangers to the dangers on the road. Whether they are delivering critical goods during a national pandemic, or battling adverse weather conditions to assure a community gets restocked, truckers are the backbone America relies on to get freight moved. As the country looks for a way to cope with the death of George Floyd, a man who was killed by a police officer who knelt on his neck for over 9 minutes while handcuffed, peaceful protests turn to violent riots, and like times of the past, truckers find themselves the target of angry mobs.
Earlier this week, a Fed-Ex truck was attacked by looters in St. Louis. Videos online show the rioters climbing on the side of the truck, smashing the windows of the truck, clearly causing the driver to panic. As the trucker began pulling away, one protester became lodged in between the trucks trailers. The protester was dragged for 5 blocks before the trucker stopped. The protester died. FedEx released this statement: “Our hearts go out to all those who are grieving the events of this week. We are deeply saddened to learn of a tragic situation involving a demonstrator in St. Louis and one of our vehicles. We offer our sincerest condolences to the family of the individual involved. There is no higher priority for FedEx than safety, and we are cooperating fully with the investigating authorities at this time.”
Other videos appeared this week showing multiple trucks being attacked and looted and, in some cases, drivers beat by violent protesters across the country. A dually pulling a horse trailer is seen on video driving through protesters in Tulsa after a crowd turned on the driver. Police can be seen helping the driver secure his cargo down the road and telling the driver to leave before protesters caught back up to the truck.
Trucking companies are warning their drivers to be vigilant on the road, with messages to drivers instructing them NOT to stop if they find themselves in the middle of protests. One message, reportedly sent to Swift drivers cautions drivers that if they find themselves in the the area of protests and “if you somehow are stopped by a crowd, stay in the truck and keep moving slowly. Call 911 for help. You have every right to assume people assaulting you in your vehicle present a danger.”
A tanker truck driver in Minneapolis yesterday nearly missed a crowd of protesters blocking Interstate 35 W. How the driver even ended up on the highway is unknown, but according to Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the trucker amazingly did not hit any protesters, but when he stopped his truck, he was pulled from the truck, severely beaten, and when police were able to fight their way through the crowd to him, they placed him under arrest.
Earlier in the week, Freight Broker Live received multiple reports of protesters throwing bricks and other debris off interstate overpasses attempting to target semi-trucks.
Drivers need to protect themselves. Be safe drivers