Utah abandons text message alerts for travel declarations

April 14, 2020

Tyson Fisher


Just a few days after implementing a travel declaration for motorists entering Utah, the state has abandoned using text message alerts after residents 60 miles away received more than a dozen alerts.

Motorists driving into Utah will no longer receive a text message alerting them to fill out a travel declaration, Utah Department of Transportation spokesman John Gleason confirmed to Land Line.

“The system didn’t work as well as we intended and we received feedback from people who received the text messages while they were in their homes and not traveling,” Gleason told Land Line. “We are able to notify people through the variable message signs and portable (message signs), positioned at those state entry points, while doing away with the unintended consequences of having people repeatedly notified who were not meant to receive the message.”

Joe Dougherty of the Utah Division of Emergency Management told Land Line that some people in Roosevelt, Utah, which is about 60 miles from the state line, reported receiving the alert 15-20 times.

Motorists entering Utah still must complete a travel declaration. However, truckers are still exempt from the requirement.

On April 8, Gov. Gary Herbert signed Executive Order No. 2020-15, which requires people ages 18 and over entering Utah to complete a travel declaration form. The order went into effect Friday, April 10, and will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on May 1.

At the time, there were no exemptions included in the executive order. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association immediately reached out to Utah officials, urging them to exempt truck drivers.

“We appreciate your efforts to protect Utahans from this dangerous virus, but imposing this extraordinary requirement on commercial motor vehicle drivers is not only a major intrusion of their personal privacy, but will hamper their ability to quickly and efficiently deliver emergency supplies to your state and many others,” OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer states in a letter to Herbert. “We are also deeply concerned by the lack clarity about how the information contained in a travel declaration form will be used and what steps are being taken to ensure its security. In fact, we believe these factors will ultimately discourage truckers from entering Utah entirely, which will affect your state’s ability to continue receiving critical freight, including medical supplies, food and other vital materials.”

On April 10, Herbert signed Executive Order No. 2020-16, which amends and replaces the previous executive order requiring a travel declaration from those entering the state. The amended order includes exemptions for truckers and other workers entering the state in a professional capacity.