Amid so many surprises this year, the threat of rain in the forecast in Fredericksburg, Virginia, didn’t amount to much of one for the 30 trucks and their owners and/or operators of That’s a Big 10-4 on D.C., who staged for their annual convoy to the National Mall at the Virginia fairgrounds. The forecast bore out — early the next morning, clouds lifted and sun shone on the “Dirty 30” rigs lined up along two sides of the mall, this year facing the Washington Monument.
Among the organizers, Ohio-based Fred Bowerman (a trucking enthusiast who lost his owner-operator father at a young in a tragic truck accident) noted that “dirty” tag, given the rain and dirt pick up on the way in, held to a budding tradition going back to the first 10-4 on D.C., when 10-4 participants referred in various ways to the 50 who showed that year.
Also as in past years, the group planned a time of fellowship, discussion and fun back at the fairgrounds after the stay on the National Mall, this year reduced to a single day in hopes of quelling worries over the unsettled political climate and unrest, principally. More surprising, perhaps, is that the event even came off given COVID-19’s curtailing of so many events. The annual 10-4 permit, however, went forward.
The group planned to convoy out of D.C. at 8:30 local time Friday evening. Ask a participant just why he or she attends the 10-4 event and you’re bound to get a variety of answers, yet three-year participant Artie Daniel summed up the a particularly common sentiment that seems to unite those here. “If you don’t have a passion for trucking,” he said, “you’re not going to make it in this business.” The truckers here, most of them owner-operators, he added, are kindred spirits in that regard. It’s about more than any protest, regulatory engagement or legislative outreach.
It’s about that passion, and a hope to make things better for the next generation, he implied.
Not that that’s always easy. Owner-operator Taylor Barker, illustrating longtime owner-operators’ equally long frustration with the nature of the 14-hour driving window in today’s hours of service rule, told FMCSA’s current acting chief Wiley Deck during his visit to speak with the group that like as not, if the 14-hour window didn’t exist, truckers might not have felt the need to engage in protest and advocacy of the nature that ultimately led to the advent of the 10-4 on D.C. event.
Deck, for his part, pointed out the new flexibilities in the hours of service changes that went live just this week, including a change to the split sleeper berth provision that allows significant new abilities for drivers to pause the clock with mid-period rest of periods less than eight hours. “We hope you recognize the influence of your input” in those changes, he said. In a particularly short time for a rulemaking, “we did what we could and we’re doing additional studies because we didn’t have the data” to underpin particularly shorter one-time pauses of less than two hours in a workday.
10-4 participants’ Fredericksburg food bank donations have yet to be fully tallied, though a reefer with 23,000 pounds of various products was on-hand Thursday, Oct. 1, at the fairgrounds, among other donations.