NATSO, representing truckstops and travel plazas, and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) have urged state and local governments to carefully consider the operational differences of essential businesses when implementing social distancing guidelines to ensure that truckstops and travel plazas can safely serve commercial drivers without delaying the delivery of critical emergency relief supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Truckstop workers and commercial truck drivers are included on the list of “essential critical infrastructure workers” by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in its “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.” But many local officials are exceeding the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended social distancing guidelines and enforcing strict "occupancy limits" in travel centers, severely delaying commercial drivers when they stop for food or fuel.
Notably, some localities are enforcing occupancy limits of as few as 5-10 people, including employees. In certain parts of the country, this is resulting in drivers waiting in long lines to enter nearly empty truckstops in order to purchase food and use the facilities; this extends their delivery time for transporting goods in support of pandemic relief efforts.
Truck drivers have the ability to move through a truckstop while practicing safe social distancing. Truckstops and travel plazas frequently have a very large footprint and can average 28,000 square feet, giving them the ability to safely serve truck drivers within the six-feet social distancing guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control without imposing extreme caps on the number of customers in a location at one time.
“Varying interpretations of the CDC guidelines are creating exceedingly long wait times for truck drivers to buy food, use the facilities, and get back on the road, hindering their ability to deliver medical supplies or keep grocery store shelves stocked,” said NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings. “What should be 20 minute stops are turning into more than two hour layovers. It is imperative that local enforcement officials enforce occupancy caps in truckstops in a manner that adheres to CDC social distancing guidelines without unnecessarily disrupting the efficient movement of essential supplies throughout the country.”
NATSO and the American Trucking Associations expressed their concerns in a letter to the National Association of Counties; National Association of County and City Health Officials; the National League of Cities; and the United States Conference of Mayors.
“Each day during this pandemic, truck drivers are out on the road making critical deliveries to markets, hospitals and consumers – if local governments impede them from making those deliveries, they are putting lives at risk,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “We urge officials at all levels of government to help our industry keep those deliveries rolling by keeping facilities open and accessible for drivers to use in a safe and efficient manner.”
The travel plaza and truckstop industry is taking every precaution to protect the health and safety of its employees and customers. They continue to follow all recommended guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization. As part of the supply chain, truckstops are committed to doing their part to keep truck drivers safe and on the road.
“Truck drivers have one of the most important jobs at this unimaginable point in history, delivering critical supplies including medical equipment to hospitals and essential items to keep store shelves stocked for the everyday needs of Americans. It is crucial that they have quick and easy access to fuel, food, restrooms, showers and other services so they can get back on the road in a timely manner. The entire country is relying on the whole-hearted commitment of these drivers and we have a responsibility to help them to do their jobs as safely and efficiently as possible.” – Jon Pertchik, CEO of TravelCenters of America
“The professional driver’s ability to deliver essential products to Americans from coast to coast in a timely manner is extremely important in the fight against COVID-19. Due to some state and local mandates, we have experienced issues that have created long delays for these professionals that have put their deliveries at risk. Any relief for these men and women would be greatly appreciated.” – Frank Love, co-CEO, Love’s Travel Stops
“At Pilot Company, our top priority is protecting the safety of our team members and guests, while continuing to provide essential services and goods to keep America moving. With professional drivers moving more than 70% of the goods consumed in the U.S., it is imperative that we keep our travel centers open, while following health and social distancing guidelines, to ensure the movement of supplies throughout the country. The entire trucking industry is taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of professional drivers on the road.”– Jimmy Haslam, CEO, Pilot Company
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