From Fredericksburg last night, as reported in the wee hours this morning, 50 bobtail trucks convoyed up I-95 and into downtown D.C., lining wide gravel walking paths along the National Mall between 4th and 7th streets, facing the Capitol Building. Inside, attention was no doubt focused on prospects for the nomination of Supreme Court judge Brett Kavanaugh, as it has been for weeks now, though plenty participants among owner-operators here did manage to take meetings with their reps and Senators, and more meetings are sure to follow.
If lawmakers bothered to take a quick look outside, though, it’s sure, they got a sight they just couldn’t miss.
For independent owner-operator Scott Hampton, it’s members of the public posing for their own pictures, and kids pulling the air horns, that has provided the chief moments of happiness.
DeLorenzo’s message to owner-ops: Tell your story, essentially — illustrating clearly what you see as the issue with the current hours of service. When the agency says, back it up with data, “we mean data in the loosest sense of the word.”
Any owner-operator can tick off an average number of times, for instance, the 14-hour rule presents an untenable safety and/or business situation (if they can really be separated) on the road, something regulators might then extrapolate from to estimate safety impacts. “The lesson we’ve learned,” DeLorenzo said, over the last year and more since the grassroots in trucking has gotten more active, is that drivers not being heard “find a better way to communicate.” To an extent, DeLorenzo tipped his hat to the engagement of groups like those represented here.
Hampton, meanwhile, hoped the current “open door” Administrator Ray Martinez seems to have offered to owner-ops and drivers will continue. It’s not always been open, and in other circles of power and influence it clearly remains closed.
Hampton and many others here marveled at what they’ve seen more than once now with group actions in D.C. — Hampton was among the truckers who spent nearly a week this time last year parked on Constitution Ave. for similar purposes during the protests of the electronic logging device mandate: with shiny objects like the recent Kavanaugh hearings and high-profile partisan spats, for lack of better terminology, monopolizing the attention of seemingly every news organization in town, amplification of this event’s message of driver-to-driver unity in service of a better, safer business seems daunting.
Then again, a discouraged trucking-insider mind runs, maybe it’s just not much of an amazing thing that there are 50 shined-up and many super-custom trucks parked on this nation’s public square. Maybe it’s not the historic event that it seems to be.
At once, others recognized better numbers would deliver better impact. Representing TruckerNation at the events today was, among others, owner-operator Brian Bucenell. He notes this crowd is in it for the long game. If talks to continue on with the event year after year come to fruition, “maybe by the third year we might have enough numbers to really do something,” to force a sense of urgency toward positive change, bolstered by press coverage or not.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” he added.