OOIDA to President Trump: Protect truck drivers

April 3, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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In a letter to President Donald Trump, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association asked for “urgent and immediate action” to protect truck drivers as they haul essential freight during the COVID-19 pandemic.

OOIDA implored the president to do everything he can to provide truck drivers with personal protective equipment, testing, and, if needed, access to treatment. The Association said that truck drivers are the vital link in the nation’s supply chain.

“Every day they are exposed to COVID-19, because of the critical service they provide for all of us,” OOIDA wrote in a letter signed by President and CEO Todd Spencer. “They run in and out of the hot zones and, without question, they are exposed. They don’t have access to personal protective equipment or any practical means to know when they may be falling ill or any practical solution if they need treatment or self-isolation.”

The April 3 letter was also sent to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Health and Human Services, urging the nation to develop a plan to keep truck drivers safe.

“Access to testing must be available where they are, particularly on busy truck routes,” Spencer wrote. “And testing must show results in hours, not days. Along with that we need a strategy for treatment or quarantine that could take place at nearby motels.

“Right now, professional drivers are busting their butts to care for the nation. Their hard work and personal sacrifice should not include their health – or even their lives – if at all possible or preventable … We need a plan for them. We need help. Do it.”

Previous letter

OOIDA also sent a letter to President Trump, requesting assistance for truck drivers.

In that letter OOIDA asked the president to address issues related to parking, hours-of-service requirements, enforcement, compliance, and the “basic decency” of providing truckers with a place to use the restroom.

“Truckers are a vital component of the supply chain, hauling loads that help keep hospitals prepared, manufacturers productive and grocery stores stocked,” Spencer wrote. “Unfortunately, our members are encountering many challenges that unnecessarily slow the movement of goods, limit the effectiveness of response efforts and jeopardize their personal safety. Steps can be taken by the federal government to immediately alleviate many of these problems, and coordination with state and local governments, as well as the business community, will help address many more.”

Since then, significant action was taken as Pennsylvania reopened most of its rest areas to provide truckers a place to park and use the restroom, and FMCSA offered waivers to commercial drivers with expiring CDLs and medical cards.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.