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Todd Dills

Truckers converge on Washington, D.C., for events this week

| October 03, 2017

Among other efforts, the “ELD or Me” anti-ELD mandate group’s planned D.C. activities have gotten under way today, after things got started in earnest as the group members set up shop at the Doswell Truck Stop in Doswell, Va. I’m here slightly north of Doswell and plan on being in attendance to cover the rally in D.C. today — watch Overdrive‘s social media feeds for periodic updates, and I’ll surely have a report filed at some point in the day with more to follow, no doubt.

I made the Doswell gathering point near the Kings Dominion amusement park by around 5 p.m. local time yesterday, where I found these two owner-operators, among a group of a dozen or two parked around the lot, in the process of hanging a sign (donated by a local member) on the pristine van of Rob Hallahan.

Owner-operators and ELD or Me moderators Brian Bucenell (pronounced “Bushnell”, left) and Rob Hallahan met up this week at the tail end of a truck show in Perrysburg, Ohio, where Brian took Best of Show for his Pete (see below), and made their way to Doswell. On the route out of Ohio, they happened upon the scene of an accident — a head-on collision in the wee hours precipitated by a pickup running the wrong way on I-77. The truckers were the first on the grisly scene and did what they could to assist those involved until the pickup’s driver was airlifted out to a hospital. Bucenell took it as a good omen, he says, for the week ahead: “We were there to help. I’m going to take it since we were there to help, we were in the right spot at the right time,” he says. “That’s kind of like saying we’re in the right spot at the right time right now.”

Longtime owner-operator Riley Clay made his way to Doswell from his Huntington, W.Va., home base. He runs flatbed leased to Cardinal Transport out of Coal City, Ill. Clay runs late-model equipment, and his carrier’s been pressuring him and others leased to get on ELDs since early in the summer. “I’m one of the holdouts,” he says. He’s not sure what he’ll do as yet, but stresses to those outside the industry that they might view the ELD mandate as a slippery slope. “Where’s it stop?” he asks. What if this trickles down? Anybody can write a bill, after all, he notes. “What’s to stop them from requiring an inward-facing camera in your car, a breathalyzer in your car, installed at your expense? How about some kind of device” to block your data and turn your phone into a hands-free-call-only device when your vehicle is rolling. “I could write a bill to do all that,” Clay says, “and I could save a lot more than 26 lives a year,” a reference to the estimated annual number of lives to be saved as a result of the ELD mandate in the FMCSA’s final rule.

There were just a couple dozen folks on hand this evening planning to roll in to D.C. from the Doswell location. ELD or Me creator and trucker/singer-songwriter Tony Justice got delayed earlier in the day and, when we spoke around 9 p.m. local time last night, he gave me an ETA of midnight for his own arrival, carrying passenger vans (to ferry drivers from Doswell to downtown D.C. for the demonstration) on open-deck trailers behind his and another driver’s rig.

As darkness fell over the Doswell Truck Stop, I talked to the owner of the rig shown below, A.C. Daniel, who noted he’d had a KW in 1980 that was featured in Overdrive at the time.

Daniel’s KW is a 1984 model with only 325,000 original miles on it after spending two decades and more in a barn near his Virginia home. He’d been trying hard for years to buy it from the owner, who had long held plans to put work into it himself. Though it’s exempt from the ELD mandate, too, notes Daniel, he’s likewise in full support of protest efforts for reasons similar to those expressed by owner-operator Clay.

La Crosse, Wis.-based independent Rob Hallahan hauled a load of Target displays to Virginia Beach, Va., with this his 2006 Kenworth W900B on his way in to the Doswell Truck Stop.

Owner-operator Bucenell likewise is exempt from the mandate with his 2002 Peterbilt 379, powered by a 1994 Cummins N14. “I’m exempt, but I believe thoroughly in the brotherhood of truckers. Before we started [ELD or Me], you couldn’t get two truck drivers to agree on the price of a cup of coffee.”

Things, he believes, are at least a little different now. We’ll find out more about whether he’s right this week.

What’s your take?

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This week’s edition of the Overdrive Radio podcast takes a run through the mailbag following last week’s conversations with organizers of two ELD mandate protest actions ...

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