Channel 19

Todd Dills

Tools for trucking career, issues advocacy at social media meeting

| March 28, 2011

Making the wider world work to your particular advantage, whatever you choose that to mean, has always been the goal of the more ambitious among us — in today’s world, the tools toward making that a reality are multiplicitous and downright confusing in the pace at which the written and unwritten rules for their use change, typically via automatic update or small shifts in what business types refer to as “best practices.” As more and more of us get on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the plethora of other online communities and try things out, individuals are “becoming the media” every day, a phrase I’m reminded of every time I think hard about the potential social media holds for the individual in contemporary life. It’s a phrase that, in the declarative (Become the Media), was the title of punk icon/left-wing activist Jello Briafra’s 2000 spoken-word album and it’s been used by Ron Paul in his efforts at bringing libertarian politics to the presidential realm. Taking hold of the reins of information at the individual level is the goal that unites the usage, regardless of the politics — and though many drivers are using available tools to good effect, in the trucking realm few are as far ahead as the husband-wife team of Allen (pictured) and Donna Smith. With a issues-advocacy-centered blog, AsktheTrucker.com, a related online talk-radio show exploring the issues covered in the blog and others in depth, and more Facebook fans than many a trucking magazine, the Smiths (even while Allen remains a fuel hauler in the Southeast) have set the bar for what’s most definitely possible from the driver’s perspective.

And now the two have launched a day’s worth of meetings, panel discussions and presentations to bring together drivers and advocates committed to the issues important to the American driver. The 1st annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention happens Saturday, October 15, at the Gold Strike Resort and Casino in Tunica, Miss., just south of Memphis. Details are here. It’s not a free event, but the modest $89 reservation fee gets you a complimentary breakfast and dinner, live entertainment by owner-operator team the Keys Truckers with Johnny Neel and Doug Jones of the Straight-Up Sounds studio here in Nashville (as well as others, including the duo of Barry Clark and David Ayers) and more well-informed discussion of driver issues than you can shake a stick at. Reserve before June 1 to ensure your seat (seats are limited to 550).

A list of the panelists and presenters follows.

Social media phenom Austin Walsh
Driver legal advocate Paul Taylor of the Truckers Justice Center
Trip Sheet Central‘s Eddie Giguchi
James McCormack
of consultancy Trucking Careers of America
& regulatory expert Richard Wilson, of Trans Products

  • Jeff from IdleAir

    Todd, thanks for this article! The folks at IdleAir agree that social media is an important resource for drivers and the trucking industry to address the real issues and shine a good light on best practices. As we’ve seen in recent events, social media has the undeniable power to unite thousands of people in different locations, and bring them greater transparency and quality of life.

    IdleAir is a proud sponsor of The Smith’s 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention, and we look forward to contributing to the ways in which drivers can communicate, share, and improve the industry from within.

    See you at the convention!

  • Lynsay from Pilot Flying J

    Hi Todd – I will echo what Jeff has said and sincerely thank you for writing about the convention. At Pilot Flying J we have seen the trucking community come together through social media, and we are excited to be a sponsor for this great event. We definitely want to be part of the positive change happening within the trucking industry and thank all of the millions of drivers who keep America moving! Can’t wait to meet everyone at the convention.

  • Jan McCarter

    For all those who are wanting to raise the integrety of the trucking industry.. for all those who are speaking out about needing possitive change… this is where we all need to be to make it happen. Thank You, Todd for a great article. This event will certainly set the stage for better things to come. It’s so encouraging that people from all facets of the trucking industry are not oly attending this event but sponsoring it also.

  • Rich wilson of Tran Services

    Thank you Todd for the informative article. Today social media is changing the way truckers learn of new regulations and proposed regulations that effect them. Under the CSA plan, driver involvement and responsibility is such that CB, coffee, or parking lot, politics is not enough anymore. Drivers need to be more informed now,more than ever before, of correct information, not speculative interpretations. Social media works, the last HOS Proposed or comment periods showed lack of participation by only receiving 300 or so comments. Because of social media, over 25,000 have been received regarding the current proposed HOS regulations. “It Works!”

  • Kylla Leeburg

    Thanks for the great article, Todd. We at Truckers Against Trafficking certainly recognize the value of social media and have made and continue to make great connections with members of the trucking industry through it. We are very excited about being at the convention and meeting some of the great people, like the Smiths, in person.

  • Rodney Tibbits of I10Trucking.com

    Todd, Thanks for helping get the word out about the first of hopefully many Truck Driver Social Media Conventions. I would also like to thank Allen & Donna Smith for their hard work and effort to make this event a reality. I am looking forward to what I believe is absolutely essential to the future improvement of the Trucking Industry. If social media can turn the Middle East upside down then it certainly should be able to help bring more Truck Drivers together so that we can do something about not only cleaning up our image, But as a force to be reckoned with in Washington D.C. Far too long we have been completely ignored by the powers that be. Because the very nature of trucking, Makes it so difficult for a driver to do anything at all politically. It’s time to make sure that those days are all in the past!
    Hoping to meet all of you at the 1st annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention Saturday, October 15, at the Gold Strike Resort and Casino in Tunica, Miss. Truck Safe!!

  • Damian Weiss

    Thanks Todd for making everyone aware of what will truly be a great event for all drivers to address their concerns about trucking and to learn about social media, a great tool for everyone with many uses.
    Myself, I hope to use it to help train students, stay informed in current issues, relaxation through music etc., communicating with others, sharing ideas, or just hanging out.
    Hope to meet you there Todd.

    Damian Weiss
    Mentor
    Swift Transportation

  • James H. Linden III

    As a person who wanted to retrn home from Europe I had and idea of getting started in the trucking industry. Knowing nothing of the insustry I began my research to further my understanding of the industry. I found Allen and Donna to be the most valid and sincere resource of information to help me understand what this profession is all about. Through them I have come to know of people like Todd Dills who with the Smith’s inform and advocate trucker rights. I recommend that if you are thinking of launching yourself to this industry or are already a driver you owe it to yourself to be informed. This is the best platform for you to network and become truly versed in trucking industry. Please attend the convention!

  • Candi Wease

    This is a very good article. My husband and I are very new to the industry and were very fortunate to find the “Ask the trucker” site. Allen and Donna have done a great job utilizing the social networking tools and many of us benefit by the articles and open discussions. I have found them to be trustworthy, professional and fun. If not for their site we would still be struggling to meet others in the industry. Whenever we have questions we know who to ask.(and we do) These guys are giving everyone a chance to benefit from their years of experience, and they really DO care. See everyone in October.

  • James McCormack of Trucking Careers of America

    Thanks Todd for a great article. What Allen and Donna Smith have done by putting this event together is amazing and I’m looking forward to being a part of it all. As career consultants and job placement services, social media tools are very valuable to us in connecting with drivers. There is a lot of good, bad and ugly in the industry, and it’s so important for drivers to have the advantage of being informed before they make career decisions.

  • Rickey Gooch, Justice for Truckers

    Todd, I think Allen Smith has hit the nail on the head with the source of communications for the future of this industry.

    Great going Allen, this is one great idea. See you in Tunica

  • Evan L. Severs

    Todd,
    Thanks for taking the time to write an article of this calibur, you are a great journalist, and I cannot think of anything that could be said better than what you said here in this article. I blog on blogdrive.com and have stated that trucking needs social media. So many people who drive in the industry have computers and waste time with them, so I would think they would want to put those efforts to good use and know what is going on in their own industry. Allen and Donna give up a lot of time to make this industry better. What is the answer for folks to understand that this event is only $89 to attend with a wealth of information to be absorbed, and a good time to meet others in the industry? It normally costs $59 and up to just get a room for a night, and that doesn’t include breakfast, dinner, good information, and great socializing with others in the same industry. Needless to say, you get to meet some of the greatest mentors in the industry to boot, good entertainment, and a chance to relax. I really am excited to be able to meet people that I’ve only met through Social Media, that have tried their best to help me with my career, and have never asked me for a dime. Just being accepted in this group of elite folks has been a blessing to me and my family. I can’t imagine anyone to read this article and turn their heads away as if it wasn’t getting them ready for a great time. Seriously this event is going to be a great event, and when you leave you will get to take something with you. Not just a good time to remember, but the information you will receive, the friendships you will make, to me that is just priceless.

  • Allen Smith

    Thank you Todd for sharing this information on your OverDrive blog (one of the first ways social media was employed)
    Thank you to all those who have replied and are as equally enthusiastic and hopeful, envisioning positive change for professional drivers and the trucking industry.
    Through social media we’ve all debated, discussed, communicated and made friendships (blogs, twitter, FB, YouTube, etc….) and now through the social media convention we can unite, meet and greet one another,discuss, learn, share, debate, strengthen friendships, and strategize solutions to many of the crucial issues that are deeply concerning us all.
    Who knows, the trucking brotherhood might even return.

  • Jeff Head….Today’s Thoughts

    A long time ago I learned the importance of reaching out and talking to people not only in the trucking industry, but also outside of it. In doing the research for my book “Running Legal Blues” I found that by talking to such groups as law enforcement, Not only did I learn a lot about how they looked upon us as truckers, but I was able to show them that truckers do care about highway safety. I was amazed at what I was able to accomplish in just a short amount of time for our image as truckers. I really believe that this meeting will go a long way toward getting more people involved in getting that message out. We as truckers do care. Social Media is the number one avenue for doing this in todays world. Thanks Donna and Allen. And thanks to Todd for the article … it was awesome

  • Ted Sheets

    Thanks for sharing Todd. Since we are talking about social media in the transportation industry…it might be time for everyone to learn about a new social network for logistics. It seems to be exactly what we are talking about here. Facebook for shipping. Take a look and signup at Ship Social http://shipsocial.com.

  • Kari Fisher

    I am new to Social Networking and Transportation. I am excited that I will be participating in the First Annual Social Media Event. I am looking forward to the seminars and meeting professionals from all areas of the trade.
    Transportation is a brutal industry and seems to be more of an uphill battle daily.
    I think that this event is an innovative idea, bringing together diverse individuals who are involved in several areas of the industry, and that we may begin to work towards common goals. I believe that we all fail to realize how various segments of the transportation industry influence other areas.
    Social Networks have proven to be an effective way to communicate and exchange ideas and get them to the intended audience. Here is to a new beginning.