ATA Issues Emergency Plea to President Trump, “KEEP REST STOPS OPEN”
Washington D.C. – The American Trucking Associations (ATA) wasted little time in issuing an emergency plea to President Donald Trump on behalf of the trucking industry after rest areas in Pennsylvania were suddenly shut down on Tuesday.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) unleashed a firestorm after it abruptly shut down all PennDOT rest areas statewide on Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. citing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) was the first to break the story early Tuesday morning and it didn’t take long for truckers and trucking groups to begin speaking out.
The most powerful trucking industry association, the ATA, was among the groups most outraged.
TNN has obtained a letter sent by the ATA to President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence late Tuesday night in response.
“We appreciate the hard work that you, your Administration, and all levels of government are undertaking to keep us safe during the COVID-19 virus outbreak,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear writes. “On behalf of the trucking industry, we are writing to ask your assistance to assure that trucks are able to continue to safely deliver medicine, food, fuel, water and other basic necessities to communities and homes.”
Spear directly takes on the rest area closures.
“Keep rest stops open,” he implores. “Commercial drivers have temporary relief from Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, but they must manage fatigue as they respond to this emergency, and rest stops are an irreplaceable component, along with commercial truck stops.”
However, Spear’s requests do not end there.
While Spear offers the President assurance that “the trucks are delivering vital supplies to communities now,” he advises “confusion and lack of clarity are causing delays and problems.”
Spear asks Mr. Trump to “consider trucking” as governments make public health decisions to “limit travel, shelter in place, close public facilities and quarantine communities.”
Additionally, he addresses the need for action on other issues as well.
Regarding the closures of a growing number of State Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs), Spear writes, “As many states shutter their DMV facilities, support the ability of the trucking industry to continue to provide critical services by providing alternatives for drivers who need to renew or obtain commercial drivers licensing credentials.”
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Further, Spear makes clear the need for more guidance on COVID-19 testing for truck drivers.
“Provide guidance for the health of drivers, including possible testing for COVID-19. Clear guidance on public health assets is important to our employees, just like it is for all other Americans, and our drivers are typically away from home.”
Lastly, he asks for trucking companies directly involved in the “delivery of essential goods” to be “explicitly” exempt from restrictions.
“Guidelines that make clear the role of shipping necessities by truck will ensure smooth resupply and delivery,” he writes.
Click HERE to read the entire letter.
Other trucking groups such as the Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) also weighed in on the rest stop closures, as have many truckers on TNN’s social media pages.
Check out more of what OOIDA and truckers have to say HERE.
TNN will continue to closely track the issue.
Photos courtesy of Britt Price and Jason Ray