A big 10-4 on hours flexibility, improved training standards and a good time — more from D.C.

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Updated Oct 5, 2018
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Washington Dc

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.

The catch as catch can public nature of the event has been perhaps the most rewarding thing to come out of it, several participants have noted. The public, whether locals out on a run or tourists visiting from elsewhere in the States or from overseas, has clearly engaged in a variety of manners both serious and not-so-serious.The catch as catch can public nature of the event has been perhaps the most rewarding thing to come out of it, several participants have noted. The public, whether locals out on a run or tourists visiting from elsewhere in the States or from overseas, has clearly engaged in a variety of manners both serious and not-so-serious.

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.

Iowa-based Hampton’s 2000 Peterbilt 379 is parked at the center of the event, in an area where tents allow for small gatherings and the distribution of literature from the various groups in attendance — and education for drivers and members of the public on how to file comments on the current hours of service advance notice of proposed rulemaking, among other things.Iowa-based Hampton’s 2000 Peterbilt 379 is parked at the center of the event, in an area where tents allow for small gatherings and the distribution of literature from the various groups in attendance — and education for drivers and members of the public on how to file comments on the current hours of service advance notice of proposed rulemaking, among other things. If one thing’s certain, the groups here and truckers around the nation have no doubt inspired the ears, at least, of federal regulators, if not yet much in the way of the regs-revising pens. FMCSA Director of Enforcement and Compliance Joe DeLorenzo (pictured, right) spent upward of an hour early this afternoon making connections and discussing the regs with owner-ops.If one thing’s certain, the groups here and truckers around the nation have no doubt inspired the ears, at least, of federal regulators, if not yet much in the way of the regs-revising pens. FMCSA Director of Enforcement and Compliance Joe DeLorenzo (pictured, right) spent upward of an hour early this afternoon making connections and discussing the regs with owner-ops.

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.

Reps from the relatively newly formed United States Transportation Alliance, with other groups and individual owner-operators (from right here: owner-ops Lori Franklin, Brian Brase, Mike Landis and Kevin Steichen), went so far as to stage a brief press conference at the National Press Club this morning after the long night staging the trucks. The event was streamed live to Facebook; however, it was attended by exactly one media property. (This picture was taken by Overdrive.) It’s a consistent issue when it comes to the trucking grassroots — amplifying the message beyond trade publications with a mainstream press that just doesn’t ever seem to get the drift.Reps from the relatively newly formed United States Transportation Alliance, with other groups and individual owner-operators (from right here: owner-ops Lori Franklin, Brian Brase, Mike Landis and Kevin Steichen), went so far as to stage a brief press conference at the National Press Club this morning after the long night staging the trucks. The event was streamed live to Facebook; however, it was attended by exactly one media property. (This picture was taken by Overdrive.) It’s a consistent issue when it comes to the trucking grassroots — amplifying the message beyond trade publications with a mainstream press that just doesn’t ever seem to get the drift. The scene early this morning along the south side of the mall, from the phone camera of a member of the public. (Used with permission.)The scene early this morning along the south side of the mall, from the phone camera of a member of the public. (Used with permission.)

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.

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