But attorney Gaines notes that there are some parts of the rules that might be confusing to some
TTN Fleet Solutions has an 80,000 vendor network of towing, mobile repair and diagnostic professionals that are sent out on the highway to help trucks with mechanical difficulties. And right now, TTN is having to work to convince some drivers that their service is deemed essential and they’ll be there.
The issue has come up because of an ambiguous reading of the guidelines released last week by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
At first glance, the guidelines released by CISA on the type of transportation employees deemed essential seem fairly straightforward: “employees supporting or enabling transportation functions, including truck drivers … maintenance and repair technicians …” and a list of several other jobs.
But that hasn’t been enough for everybody, according to J.D. Redmon, the vice president of marketing at TTN. “What we’re hearing in our network is that some drivers have been reluctant to get on the road to run regular routes in fear of not being able to be assisted when having unscheduled maintenance,” Redmon told FreightWaves. The company has been trying to get the message out that their fleets are an “essential business” as defined under the CISA standards. “We do have a vendor network out there 24/7 to help you,” he said.
Redmon said the company’s Contact Center and Service Provider Network have been deemed essential.
So why the confusion? A few reasons, according to Cassandra Gaines of the Gaines Law Group of Arizona. In particular, Gaines looks over the CISA rules and sees that in addition to the earlier broad statements, they single out a type of driver as essential: “truck drivers who haul hazardous and waste materials to support critical infrastructure, capabilities, functions, and services.”
“What confuses me and concerns me is that there’s no blanket statement that motor carriers on the roads are essential,” Gaines said.
Instead, singling out hazmat drivers is the “opposite,” Gaines said. “What about the rest of the commodities?” she said. “It makes people think, oh, they narrowed it down, which means everybody else is not qualified.”
Gaines said she recently did a broadcast on the issue and had many calls with questions about what callers saw as an ambiguity. “What we are seeking is clear language stating that motor carriers can come and go notwithstanding the commodities being hauled,” she said.
Although the CISA rules are guidelines, Gaines noted that they are the standards used by states that have declared states of emergency — all of them at this point.
Gaines said she has had discussions with officials from the Department of Transportation on the issue. While she said the information she received from the agency was less than definitive, her advice to clients is this: “Keep moving your shipments and take it day by day. Report any instances of me being stopped at a border or not able to transport because of any state authority.”
As far as whether she has heard specific instances of that, Gaines said there was one complaint made to her that was too vague to pursue.
An email FreightWaves sent to CISA had not been answered at time of publication.
In the interim, she said, the view in the industry is that “we’re good for now but let’s get clarification.”
At TTN, there is no ambiguity. “CISA did deem our business to be essential,” Redmon said.
Meanwhile, he added that TTN continues to work on letting its drivers know that the company clearly sees what it does as essential under the CISA guidelines. “It was alarming to us that the drivers had the concern that they won’t be serviced,” he said.
Tyler Harden, executive vice president at TTN, said he could understand why drivers would be concerned. “Up until a couple of days ago, they were using port-a-potties instead of public restrooms,” Harden said, a reference to the closure of some bathrooms at rest stops. “So it’s kind of demeaning.”
This story has been revised from earlier publication, including Gaines’ comment on her discussions with DOE and clarification of the relationship between TTN and maintenance crews.