OOIDA: Truck drivers need places to eat

March 20, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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Truck drivers must have places to eat as they travel across the nation transporting essential freight, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association told the National Restaurant Association and the International Franchise Association.

In a letter sent on Friday, March 20, OOIDA asked the organizations to do everything they can to accommodate truck drivers, who are hauling freight as many restaurants across the nation have closed or restricted dine-in eating in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

“While we realize the restaurant industry is dealing with significant issues of its own, to the extent you can work with your members to accommodate the needs of our nation’s truck drivers, we would be extremely grateful,” OOIDA wrote in a letter signed by President and CEO Todd Spencer. “Using a drive-thru in a commercial motor vehicle is impossible, most restaurants have closed their inside operations, and individuals are generally prohibited from walking through a drive-thru line. As a result, truck drivers are struggling to find food.”

It is not the first time OOIDA has helped get the word out to organizations or lawmakers about truck drivers having difficulties receiving basic necessities during the pandemic.

Rest areas

OOIDA criticized the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for closing all of its rest areas on March 17, and then reopening only 13 of 30 on March 19.

The Association told the U.S. Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania lawmakers that truck drivers have basic necessities and need these rest areas for a place to park, use the restroom and for a safe place to take a nap.

“For professional drivers, rest areas aren’t simply places to pick up SunChips and a Mountain Dew from a vending machine,” wrote Collin Long, OOIDA’s director of government affairs. “They are invaluable locations to rest when fatigued. Rest areas are located at reliable intervals and locations for truckers, allowing them to minimize what may otherwise be a difficult, tedious and time-consuming search for parking.”

Restroom refusals

OOIDA also informed the American Logistics Aid Network about reports of shippers and receivers refusing to let truck drivers use the restroom.

ALAN asked thousands of U.S. businesses to give truckers access to a toilet and a place to wash their hands.

“We are all in this fight together. We need our truckers on the roads, so our warehouses and stores and manufacturing can stay open and so that our communities get what they need,” wrote Kathy Fulton, executive director of ALAN. “At a time when our systems are so stretched and fragile, now more than ever we need to band together the disparate parts of the supply chain to ensure our country has the nourishment, hydration, and medical care we need.”

On the bright side, Land Line has reported several instances of people going out of their way to make sure truckers are fed. In addition, Land Line reported about a Sonic location in Fordyce, Ark., that built a drive-thru with heavy-duty trucks specifically in mind.

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.