Friday, March 20, 2020

Special Message from ATA President & CEO Mark Colson

ATA trucking executive Mark Colson

Amid this current health crisis, one of the most important messages to share with the trucking community is a sincere expression of gratitude and thanks. Thank you to the men and women keeping America moving. Truckers are dealing with the social and practical aspects of this crisis just like everyone else, but they are still doing their jobs calmly, confidently, and safely…just as always.

Rest assured your Alabama Trucking Association is doing everything within its power to assist members and promote the courageous work of the men and women in trucking. I, along with Tim Frazier and the entire ATA and ATA Comp Fund teams, have been in constant communication with industry leaders from several key organizations and agencies, including American Trucking Associations, FMCSA, ALDOT, ALEA, and Governor Kay Ivey’s office to share information and collaborate on how to keep trucking and the supply chain healthy and functional.

Below are several updates from the regulatory front:

COVID-19 – The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation with steep ramifications for the economy, interstate commerce, and America’s trucking industry. Information is key in dealing with this health crisis. The American Trucking Associations has developed a great resource called the COVID-19 Update Hub to provide timely, fact-based information to answer frequently asked questions and address common challenges that arise from the pandemic and national response. The page will be updated regularly with information and guidance provided by government officials and other stakeholders involved in response efforts.

Hours of Service – The FMCSA’s recent Emergency Declaration provides relief from the HOS Regulations for drivers delivering products in support of the COVID-19 pandemic. Drivers are still required to obtain adequate rest to prevent unsafe fatigue. If you have questions regarding FMCSA’s national emergency declaration for motor carriers delivering emergency relief in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, check out the agency’s FAQ page to learn more about what is covered, and how it can be used.

Expired Driver’s Licenses – While Alabama allows a 60-day grace period for driver’s license renewals, other states have different requirements. We encourage all drivers licensed in other states to reach out to the issuing state’s DMV for current information. We have raised this issue with the Governor’s office and ALEA as other states have granted extensions.

CDL Testing – Alabama DMV has temporarily suspended skills testing for new drivers licenses due to the advisement of social separation guidance. Testing will resume as soon as guidance is issued from ALEA headquarters. We’re monitoring this situation closely and will report any updates as soon as possible.

Driver Physical/Medical Card Expiration – Discussions are underway with FMCSA and state licensing offices for possible resolution. Since FMCSA guides physical qualifications for drivers, most states believe any grace period for renewal should be issued by FMCSA.

Rest Area Closures – Various states have closed a few of the rest areas causing less availability for drivers to take required breaks. Current national instruction has allowed several of locations to re-open providing parking space along major truck corridors. Please report any closed rest areas you encounter, and we will contact the necessary officials.

Food and Sanitation Supplies Availability – During the “social distancing” period we are in, it is vitally important to plan for meal stops. Available stops for in-house dining is very limited. We have been in contact with travel stop members, and they tell us they are working diligently to provide options for drivers. If you encounter problems providing food or sanitation supplies for your employees, please let us know.

Weight Exemption – Many states have enacted weight restriction relief for loads being delivered in support of the pandemic. Alabama will be issuing guidance soon, and we will share that information ASAP.

Meanwhile, there several upcoming Association events we continue preparing for. Here is a brief update on the two largest ones: 

  • Monday’s Fleet Safety Awards Banquet has been postponed. Our staff is working on ideas to celebrate the outstanding winners and have an event that honors their service. We will keep you posted on that.
  • As of today, our 82nd Annual Meeting and Convention in late April has not been canceled. Of course, the way this situation has escalated, we may be forced to decide whether it’s wise to move forward. Association leadership has met to discuss this, and we decided to wait a few more weeks. We will reconvene soon as more information becomes available. We will make a good decision at the appropriate time in the best interest of our members and guest. We will keep you up to date on this process.

I am extremely proud of our industry’s efforts to keep our economy rolling. Over the coming days and weeks, you will see an increased media presence from us. We’re running a digital media campaign to highlight our industry’s effort to keep our society and economy moving. Plus, we’re making ourselves available to local news sources to share our message. Here is a recent interview I did with Montgomery’s WSFA. We are working very hard to tell the industry’s story. Please follow @AlabamaTrucking on one (or all) of our social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Meanwhile, help us share the good news of trucking. We also love sharing our member’s content as well, so keep posting and telling your stories. If you have news about new programs or innovations you’ve implemented to cope with this crisis, we want to know. Send your news and ideas to Ford Boswell at

In closing, I encourage you to take a moment to read this message from American Trucking Associations’ President and CEO, Chris Spear. Here is an excerpt:

“Truckers don’t deal in fear. They have a job to get done. They get up, hop in the cab, and take to the road. Truckers always deliver, even when there’s a natural disaster or expanding crisis.”

We will persevere! Keep the faith, keep calm and keep trucking!

Mark Colson
President & CEO
Alabama Trucking Association

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 
-Joshua 1:9