Trucker hauls message as essential as her freight

Shelley Uvanile-Hesch standing in front of her tractor-trailer, wrapped with the message "Stay Home. Save Lives"

Canadian truck driver Shelley Uvanile-Hesch has a message for anyone who thinks social distancing measures shouldn’t apply to them during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s printed on her trailer in giant letters:

“Stay home. Save Lives.”

“There’s a lot of traffic on the road that shouldn’t be on the road,” Uvanile-Hesch told FreightWaves. “What are you people thinking?”

Uvanile-Hesch, a driver for Sharp Transportation Systems, will begin hauling that message across Canada and the United States on Tuesday. The 53-foot trailer wrap will be hard to miss: Apart from the message, it features photos of medical personnel wearing face masks and the hashtag “#FlattenTheCurve.”

The idea is simple: Encourage people to embrace social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

It also marks Uvanile-Hesch’s return to long-haul trucking after her husband and driving partner, Chris Hesch, died in a workplace accident in August. The pandemic and the need for trucks to keep moving essential freight made her decide it was time to get back on the road.

“I’m looking forward to getting back on the road,” Uvanile-Hesch told FreightWaves. “Everyone is trying to do their part. This is my part.”

Uvanile-Hesch drives her tractor-trailer in Ontario, Canada. (Image: Kimberly Biback/Sharp Transportation)

That extends to the freight, too. Uvanile-Hesch’s first load is hand sanitizer from Ontario to British Columbia. From there, she expects to take another load into the U.S before securing a backhaul to Canada as part of the cross-border movement of essential goods.

“We were looking for ways to give back. What better way than a moving, 53-foot billboard?”

— Angela Baltkois, CEO of Big Rig Wraps

An organization Uvanile-Hesch founded and leads, the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada, sponsored the advertising wrap with Armour Insurance. The ad itself came from a Canadian executive facing a severe disruption because of COVID-19.

“We were looking for ways to give back. What better way than a moving, 53-foot billboard?” said Angela Baltkois, CEO of Big Rig Wraps, a company that places advertising on commercial vehicles.

Sharp donated three trailers for the “Stay Home” message. Baltkois hopes other fleets in Canada and the U.S. join the campaign.

Beyond the public health message, Baltkois said she wanted to show the key role trucking plays.

“I wanted to help elevate the trucking industry,” Baltkois said. “It wasn’t for truckers, front-line health workers wouldn’t get supplies.”

Uvanile-Hesch also plans to use the trip to showcase some of the conditions truck drivers face during the pandemic, including closed or dirty bathroom facilities and few places to eat.

“Hopefully this will bring attention to the plight of drivers on the road so that something changes,” Uvanile-Hesch said.

How you can help: Big Rig Wraps is seeking sponsors for the “Stay Home. Save Lives” wraps, and U.S. and Canadian fleets willing to place them on trailers. For more information, contact Angela Baltkois at