ATA appeals to White House for driver provisions

Trucking’s most powerful lobbying group is asking the Trump administration to help balance federal, state and local government restrictions with the needs of truck drivers and carriers as the industry grapples with the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

In a letter addressed to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Chris Spear asserted that while trucks are delivering vital supplies such as medical supplies, food, and fuel, “confusion and lack of clarity are causing delays and problems” in the wake of decisions by governments to limit travel and close public facilities.

In his March 17 letter, Spear asked that the White House assist in several policy modifications that would directly affect truck drivers:

  • Provide alternatives for drivers who need to renew or obtain commercial driver’s licensing credentials as many states shutter DMV facilities.
  • Keep rest stops open – commercial drivers have temporary relief from Hours of Service regulations, but they must manage fatigue as they respond to this emergency, and rest stops are an irreplaceable component, along with commercial truck stops.
  • 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.

Spear also asked that the White House urge governments to exempt trucking services for essential goods delivery explicitly from government closures and restrictions, including guidelines “that make clear the role of shipping necessities by truck will ensure smooth resupply and delivery.”

Absent the policy changes, Spear said, “it will be more difficult to ensure that the shelves are stocked and emergency supplies reach first responders and medical personnel.”

Trucking is among a growing number of industries appealing directly to the White House for assistance and clarity in the COVID-19 emergency as worries about its effect on supply chains continues to grow.

According to railroad operator Kansas City Southern [NYSE: KSU], railroads have been communicating with the White House and other government agencies about the need to keep supply chains open and support critical transportation infrastructure.

The American Chemistry Council sent a similar letter to that of ATA’s to President Trump yesterday, pointing out that the operation of manufacturing plants cannot be done remotely and requires “highly trained” workers to be at the plants daily. “This also includes ensuring access to critical supplies and transportation systems so our industry can continue to produce and deliver essential products.”