As part of continued protest efforts by truck drivers affiliated with various groups — Truckers Stand As One and the Facebook-based Black Smoke Matters — a few dozen truck drivers participated in on-highway, convoy-style protests in Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia this weekend.
The Ohio-based protest appears to have been the largest of the four separate initiatives. Local media outlets estimate that about 40 trucks participated in the so-called “slow roll” convoy, though organizer Scott Reed, a former owner-operator based in the state, estimated that more truckers were present and participating than the reported 40.
Media outlets in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia report slightly smaller turnout.
This weekend’s protests were both isolated events and part of a build-up to a planned larger protest on April 12, the date for which Truckers Stand As One and Black Smoke Matters advocate for a nationwide driver shutdown. A group of drivers held a similar protest last month in Indianapolis, when roughly 75 truckers twice circled the city’s 50-mile I-465 loop, operating at speeds of a 45 mph and driving in the right lane.
Reed said the Ohio legislature’s recent move to propose an increase on diesel taxes, alongside a much smaller increase in per-gallon taxes on gasoline, was one of the key reasons for protesting around the state’s capitol of Columbus.
However, he said the drivers there were also protesting hours of service regulations, driver training regs and lack of truck parking. The group may plan more protests around the state’s diesel tax plan, he said, arguing that the state isn’t properly allocating the increased revenue from fuel taxes for highway projects that would actually benefit truckers.
The convoy in Ohio lasted about four hours and covered about 140 miles, Reed says. It began in London, Ohio, and traveled I-70 to Columbus, where drivers looped the city’s downtown Interstate interchanges a few times and then headed back to London.
Reed operated the lead truck in the convoy, so he couldn’t count the number of trucks that participated, he says. “We had to have way more than 40,” he said. “When we rolled into Columbus, there were trucks left and right getting in line with us and rolling.”
Reed reported one small incident in the protests, in which a group of about 10 drivers, which he contended operated independently of the larger slow roll plan, stopped traffic briefly. Ohio state police intervened and told the drivers to keep moving or they’d be cited, and “they got back in their trucks and took off,” Reed says. He says such activity isn’t affiliated with the Truckers Stand As One protests.
Staff Lieutenant Craig Cvetan of the Ohio State Police said there were no issues stemming from the protests and that organizers stayed in touch with enforcers about their route and plans. “We didn’t issue any citations and we didn’t see any significant incidents related to traffic or public safety,” he says.
State police in North Carolina have not returned a request for information. A local news report from Davidson County, North Carolina, reported that protests took place, but offered few details about participation numbers. Likewise, a local report from Macon, Georgia’s CBS affiliate WMAZ reported about 20 truckers participated in protests there.
According to an email from an organizer sent to Overdrive, another slow roll protests is planned for March 27 in Joplin, Missouri.