FMCSA Demands Truck Stops “Remain Open 24 Hours Per Day” to Serve Truckers
Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is demanding truck stops “remain open 24 hours per day” to serve the needs of America’s truck drivers.
On Tuesday, Transportation Nation Network (TNN) obtained a letter dated March 17, and sent from FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen, to Lisa Mullings, CEO of the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO).
Mullen writes, “As the Nation continues to come to grips with the realities of COVID-19, I am writing to let you know that the FMCSA recognizes the integral role that travel centers and truck stops play in the nation’s supply chain.”
Mullen stressed that truck stops “must heed the CDC guidelines and follow state and local restrictions.”
However, he demanded that the more than 1,700 NATSO member truck stops and travel plazas remain open.
“In the coming weeks and months, it will be critical that these businesses remain open 24 hours per day, providing America’s truck drivers with fuel, food, showers, repair services and opportunities to rest,” he urged. “The continuing operations of America’s truck stops will enable truck drivers to confidently transport essential goods such as food and medical supplies throughout the country.”
Read Mullen’s entire letter HERE.
NATSO is the only national trade association representing the travel plaza and truck stop industry.
It represents more than 1,700 travel plazas and truck stops nationwide, owned by over 200 corporate entities.
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In recent days, TNN has reported on the actions major truck stop chains are taking during these unprecedented times.
The Iowa 80 Group, which operates the largest truck stop in the U.S. located in Walcott, IA, is committed to keeping its locations open 24 hours.
Heather DeBailie, V.P. of Marketing, tells TNN, the Iowa 80 Group will do whatever it takes to make sure the needs of truckers are met during these trying times.
“We provide an essential service and we will remain open and make whatever adjustments we need to so we can continue serving our customers who perform the most important job there is; delivering food and medical supplies to people who need them,” she said.
Iowa 80 Group also announced today it would be suspending dine-in options at its restaurants.
“In order to remain compliant with the law and help prevent the spread of COVID-19, all food is now available for carry-out only,” a statement said.
In an email sent to customers on Sunday, TravelCenters of America (TA) — which also owns and operates Petro Stopping Centers — announced it would be suspending buffet, soup and salad bar offerings on a temporary basis at its over 240 full-service restaurants across the country.
The company stressed its restaurants will remain open and all menu items will be available for to-go orders as more states are restricting dine-in options.
Major chains are also adopting additional cleaning measures including heightened sanitation protocols of showers, registers, door knobs, tables, menus, chairs, booths, counters, and all dishes, utensils and cooking surfaces.
In an update on Tuesday, TA said it was closing all driver’s lounges and fitness centers.
Mullen’s letter comes on the same day that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) shut down all rest areas statewide amid the coronavirus pandemic.
PennDOT’s closure of its nearly 50 rest areas do not even allow for truckers to safely park.
TNN was the first to break this story early Tuesday morning.
READ more about it HERE.
Photo courtesy of Love’s Travel Stops