In the wee hours of the morning Wednesday, 30 or more trucks rolled into Washington, D.C., bobtail, and assumed parking positions along Constitution Ave. (pictured above, part of a contigent of 11 power units) and in front of Department of Transportation headquarters (more than 20 rigs) in association with the Operation Black and Blue group. It and other truckers are protesting the ELD mandate this week, encouraging a delay and eventual repeal. Many within the Black and Blue group had converged in Leesport, Pa., earlier in the week at the Big Rig Rendezvous truck show there, though many others had come from all over the country to take part in the effort.
Among those parked up between the White House and Washington Monument was Robbie Harris, pictured, with his 2004 Kenworth W900 — he’d been shut down with the group from Leesport since last week, where he helped organize the truck show there.
He showed with a 2018 XL RGN with an auxiliary axle. The third-generation driver hauls leased to his father’s Extreme Transportation fleet, based in Michigan.
Harris, like so many of the drivers on hand for this event, a growing number after the slow start of the efforts yesterday, holds fast to the freedom to operate the business with a minimum of control — the electronic logging device mandate being the principle issue of the moment but not the only one by a long stretch.
Wayne Clark was among those on-hand in front of DOT offices with his Arkansas-based 2005 Clark Farms W9 — his one-truck business is supplemented by his farming, and he runs livestock several times a week. The hours rule, he feels, need to return to something resembling what it was a decade and a half ago, when drivers could take long nap when it made sense to and “didn’t lose time” on any daily on-duty clock.
About the crew at DOT offices (with around 20 trucks in the vicinity): Drivers took turns on a megaphone pointed high up into the top of the building at DOT offices, where they were told FMCSA’s headquarters were positioned within the building. Officials weren’t exactly welcoming, drivers said.
Among issues echoing around the area at DOT headquarters included those of the ELD mandate, hours regs, detention and parking. Pleas were also made for DOT to allow use of the bathroom to demonstration participants — a jab at shippers and receivers who refuse to allow drivers to use their facilities. The rig in the left in this picture is Garland, Texas-based Doug Viaille’s Goat’s Transportation 2014 Cascadia. “You’ve got to have rules and regulations,” he says. “But the hours of service need to be looked at again” for much-needed revision, he says.
Operation Black and Blue co-organizer Scott Jordan, owner of Missouri-based small fleet Power House Transportation, noted the group planned similar truck stagings near the Capitol tomorrow, then around the National Mall on Friday for an approximation of a truck show in downtown D.C., among other happenings and continued meetings with lawmakers.
Owner-operator Scott Jordan
Several drivers whose trucks were parked for the day today were doing double duty down by the Senate and House office buildings flanking the U.S. Capitol, visiting Senators with the group from ELD or Me reported on in the Channel 19 blog this week — among others as numbers in D.C. clearly grew. By just how much is an unknown.
Deep Singh and Paviter Singh, both dry van owner-operators from Virginia and New York, respectively, were among a group of Punjabi-American owner-operators shut down this week. Deep estimates the group that came to D.C. is 60-70 people strong, mostly arriving from points in New Jersey and New York in personal vehicles. They flocked to areas around the White House and Capitol today in with the same message as others, with particular emphasis on supporting the H.R. 3282 ELD delay bill.
Singer-songwriter Justice estimated last night upon return to the ELD or Me gathering point Doswell that his group had doubled in size there through the day, with more expected.
But it was driver Linda Stockton (she works for a three-truck owner-operator and is based in Eufala, Okla.), who delivered the most touching message of the day. Taking a break from the goings-on by the small trailer she’s decked out like a sleeper in solidarity with those who drove in and were spending their “vacations” in their trucks, Stockton was close to tears when we were introduced.
“We’re just trying to survive like everybody else,” she said. “I do and do and do and I give and give and I feel like my government has turned against us. It’s very confusing to me, and very scary.”
Stockton feels that the weight of everything from rising prices and added costs — ELDs soon to be another — is leading her away from being able to make it driving. “And without driving, without the lifestyle, I’m not the same person. I don’t feel like I’m serving my country” like she was meant to do.