Another annual tradition thrown off in this crazy year

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I was hopeful that an all-indoors event I’ve been attending for at least a decade — the annual meeting here in Nashville of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies — was still on tap, would be held in-person here with appropriate protocols in place to ensure a measure of safety. But in the last weeks, I’ll admit I was getting skeptical watching COVID-19 hospitalization numbers locally tick farther up with a fast uptick in positive tests, not to mention the same all around the country.

In an update for members and others in the small-carrier community, NASTC President David Owen noted he’d been watching much the same, and has seen COVID cases at the NASTC offices themselves — NASTC’s headquarters is 20 minutes from my front door in Gallatin, Tennessee.

“We are once again sequestered, and working remotely,” Owen wrote. “Though technically, since our meeting was previously approved, we could go forward … we could run the risk of inviting 300 people to our meeting and then inadvertently exposing them to COVID-19. We are very disappointed, but this was the only decision that made sense.”

With his message, Owen also delivered the following video, prepared remarks of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s acting chief Wiley Deck. Among subjects detailed: Ongoing work on the panel of truck drivers that will be a subcommittee of sort to the influential MCSAC committee of industry, enforcement and safety reps; those new hours of service rules that went live September 29, 2020; the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse; and more.

As the video’s title makes clear, there’s no shortage of recognition, too, for the importance of the role of the smallest of fleets — and truck drivers in particular — in our nation’s economy and way of life. Deck noted DOT and FMCSA of course have long been aware of that importance, yet if there’s a unqualified happy outcome to the stress COVID-19 has put us all through it’s that the “rest of the country now realize the essential role you play to keep our nation moving forward [and ] respect the role of CMV drivers, perhaps now more than ever before.”

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“Our country depends on you,” Deck said, and he hoped his agency could “do everything we can to support you.” Listen in below on the full address below. Find NASTC via their website. My past coverage of the informative sessions at their annual meeting you can peruse via the run of stories at this link.