The American Trucking Associations (ATA) asked U.S. health officials to reconsider their requirement for team truck drivers to remain masked while inside the cab.
On February 9, the ATA penned a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asking the agency to reassess part of a federal face mask order for transportation workers that was issued in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The CDC order requiring masking during interstate travel applies to both workers and travelers in at transportation hubs, including U.S. ports of entry, airports, on commercial aircraft, on trains, in public maritime vessels including ferries, and on busses.
The CDC order specifically exempted “commercial motor vehicles or trucks … if the driver is the sole occupant of the truck” from the mask requirement during travel, meaning that team drivers were not covered by the exemption.
In the letter to the CDC, the ATA spoke out in favor of the mask order in many instances but said that the agency “may want to revisit the apparent blanket requirements that truck drivers, other than those operating solo, wear face coverings in the truck at all times during team driving operations.”
The ATA continued:
Many team driving operations work together for days, if not weeks, at a time, and team drivers can and do reduce their exposure by maintaining proper social distancing best practices outside the truck cab. This includes, for example, choosing to eat meals and take rest breaks in the truck cab, limiting the amount of exposure to other individuals. Additionally, many team drivers are husband and wife teams, which are exempt generally under prior CDC recommendations, and ATA’s suggestion is a logical extension of that prior decision.
Indeed, while face coverings within the cab for non-husband and wife team drivers at all times may seem logical, the effectiveness and utility of such a broad requirement may be limited. For instance, where drivers are within a confined space for days, if not weeks, at a time, wearing a face covering for almost 24 hours a day, even while in the shared sleeper berth, is not feasible or realistic nor likely to be particularly effective in preventing transmission. ATA had previously raised these concerns to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). As a result, NIOSH removed the in cab mask requirement guidance for team truck drivers when they are part of the same household. Accordingly, ATA recommends that the current requirements not apply to team drivers as well.
You can view the letter in full below.