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Archive for October, 2011


Trucker Voices Heard at First Annual Convention

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Deaf Truckers United

Jesse Shelander has his "voice" heard at the 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention.


Attendees traveled from twenty eight U.S. states and two countries to participate in the 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention. 

Drivers and industry professionals from Canada and Norway took part in the first-of-its-kind event, visiting with attendees from the following states:

Alabama Illinois New Hampshire Texas
Arizona Kentucky Nevada Wisconsin
California Louisiana New York West Virginia
Colorado Minnesota Ohio Wyoming
Delaware Missouri Oklahoma  
Florida Mississippi Pennsylvania  
Georgia Montana South Carolina  
Iowa North Carolina Tennessee  

The Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention is to recognize and honor the professional CDL driver for their contribution to America’s economic livelihood, as well as to bring together, both driver and various industry professionals, to socialize, network and discuss those issues most vital to the driver and industry.

Above all else, it is an event where the professional driver will have the platform to speak and to be heard, raising public awareness and media exposure, strengthening the voice of the driver by becoming involved in the governmental bureaucracy of regulatory decision-making.

Freelance journalist for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Irin Carmon and for the New York Times, Roxanna Asgarian along with editors for Overdrive Magazine, Truckers News Magazine and Challenge Magazine, were all on hand to hear what the driver had to say.

As promised, the 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention turned the mic over to the professional truck driver as the trucker’s voice was heard:

A Driver's "Voice"

A Driver's "Voice"

Jesse Shelander, a member of Facebook’s, Deaf Truckers United, had his “voice” heard through the help of interpreter, Kristy Chaney.  Jesse voiced his concern about the hearing requirement restrictions placed on the deaf, wishing to enter into a truck driving career.  They were motivated by the recent announcement from the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), which stated:

“…as a result of its ongoing advocacy with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) more than twenty deaf and hard of hearing truck drivers who submitted applications for an exemption from the DOT hearing requirements through the NAD in July 2011 are now being considered for full Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) including CDL A and B to drive vehicles with and without airbrakes.”

It is the first time the United States Department of Transportation has agreed to consider waiving its hearing requirements for deaf drivers.  The announcement came just four days before the 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention.


Driver, Ronnie Bowen during the Open Panel Discussion

Driver, Ronnie Bowen during the Open Panel Discussion

 Driver, Ronnie Bowen, Jr., stepped up to the mic to express three major points of most concern:

1. That Owner Operators and small independents were under assault with regulations, EPA, HOS, cross-border, CSA and FMCSA, as well as his concern that the American Trucking Association (ATA), is non-representative of drivers.

2. The need to have the professional driver public image “cleaned up” and to re-earn the respect that drivers’ deserve.

3. To implement an inclusion of knowledge about sharing the road with trucks in basic driver license testing.

It is interesting to note here that neither the ATA nor the FMCSA attended or even acknowledged the event.  An invitation to the FMCSA was sent, but it was declined.  One would imagine the FMCSA would appreciate meeting with those whose regulations effect, but apparently not.


Fred Schaffner

Fred Schaffner


Fred Schaffner, from The American Driver, took to the podium and challenged all driver attendees by asking, “What are we going to take with us from this convention?  Are we going to unite and act . . . or not?”

His challenge invoked emotion from the drivers present, to relay the message that drivers must unite and take action, and by raising their voices, can have a say in regulatory decisions.  Fred also speaks from experience by being the one responsible for the removal of the two hour parking limit signs from the Virginia rest areas. 


Together, the voices of million of professional truck drivers can make a difference.  As regulatory expert and guest speaker, Richard Wilson stated during an Overdrive Magazine interview:

“What if we said the CSA SMS rating system, for example was unfair 13 million times, is somebody going to listen?”

Because of the 1st Annual Convention, Fred Schaffner is taking action and will be attending the FMCSA Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee in Arlington, Virginia on Wednesday-Thursday, October 26th-27th, 2011.

The meeting will be devoted to a full discussion on the technical issues that the MCSAC should consider in providing input to the Agency as it develops functional specifications for EOBR’s.

Fred advised me earlier that, “I’m hopeful that with my attendance, truckers can begin to feel their voices will be heard.”

The Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention was established for this very reason:  Honor and recognize our professional truck drivers and to provide a platform where their voices will be heard, not only publicly through media exposure, but where it matters the most . . . in Washington, D.C.

© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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First Trucking Social Media Convention Draws 178

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Attorney Paul Taylor - 2011 Trucking Social Media Convention
2011 Truck Driver Social Media Convention

The 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention was well received among drivers and driver supporters, as the final attendee count for both reservations and walk-in’s, reached a total of 178.

I would like to thank all of those who attended and supported the event and I will be updating the Trucking Social Media website within the next several days.

The 2011 event will have its own page, including a photo and video gallery as I update the website to prepare for future conventions.

Thanks again for everyone’s support and your efforts in attending this first-ever event for the trucking industry.

Our goals to unite, honor, inform, network, socialize, and give voice to the professional driver was accomplished. Many friendships were made, others were strengthened. All-in-all the most common statement made during the event was, “The industry has needed this for a long time.”

The evening concluded with some of the best entertainment around as Tony Justice and his Nashville band cranked out hit after hit. John DiBattista also opened up during dinner with a more mellow side, ending his set with his rendition of “Say A Prayer For Jason” from the Big Rigs music CD.

The First Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention met and exceeded all expectations. Many are looking forward to next year and others have already committed to sponsorship. Details for the 2012 convention will be announced in June.

Thank you to everyone who has made this all possible: speakers, special guests, sponsors, attendees, and to eveyone who has supported us and the goals that were accomplished.

Allen Smith

© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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Industry Philosophy: Blame the Truck Driver

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Blame the Truck Driver

Blame the Truck Driver

The trucking industry is a weak commerce when it comes to standing up and accepting responsibility for their actions.  During a conversation with another driver last night who works for an area company, he was telling me about an incident that recently took place that involved the termination of another driver.

His company had sent out a memo to all drivers that they were not to exceed the 14 hour rule under any circumstance.  If dispatched on a schedule that would push the 14 HOS rule, they were to immediately report it to their dispatcher and have it revised.

All was going well for the driver until he found himself caught in a traffic back-up due to a serious fatality accident on Highway 60, between Tampa and Bartow.

With no way to turn around, the driver lost three hours and kept his dispatcher informed.  Once moving again, he advised dispatch that he would not be able to do his next load because it would run over fourteen hours.  Dispatch responded with, “We have no other driver available to do it … can you run it just this time and make your logs work?”

The driver complied and seventeen hours later, shut down in his company yard.  Reporting to work the next day, he was informed that he had been terminated due to the EOBR recordings of his fourteen hour violation.  Taking his case to his supervisor and explaining what had happened, he was told that he should have refused the load.  The dispatcher received no verbal or written warnings and remained with his job.

For years, the philosophy of the trucking industry has always been to “blame the truck driver.”  This is a wide ideology of the general public, law enforcement and major news media as well and it has only gotten worse through the years.  From the logs department to the safety department, from the dispatcher to the terminal supervisor and up, whenever a violation occurs, the easiest and simpler route to take is to blame the driver.  None of these in-house transportation professionals ever seem to have the fortitude or deference to stand up and accept responsibility for their actions.

CDL Truck Driving Schools Blame the Graduate

It seems the blame game has now stretched from the CDL truck driving schools to the recent CDL graduate.  As most truck driving schools advertise, “Job Placement Assistance,”  it appears now that if the graduate is unable to find employment after completing the course, it is the direct fault of the graduate.  This post response received, sums it up:

“Maybe they don’t give more effort on applying.  It’s in the hand of the applicant to let employers nod to you, saying you’re hired.”

There is a good lesson here for CDL graduates to learn:  when it comes to trucking, especially OTR, when anything goes wrong, it’s the driver’s fault.  If you are a recent CDL graduate unable to find a truck driving job after completing training, then it is your fault.  It is the same “pass the buck” philosophy that I’ve listened to for 34 years: “Blame the “driver” or in this case . . . blame the graduate.

The “Job Placement Assistance” advertising that is used to lure in students is worth less than the letter of “Intent to Hire.” 

The CDL schools need to stop advertising JOB PLACEMENT ASSISTANCE.  They know that this is a major pull to bring students in, believing they will receive help in landing a job after paying thousands of dollars for a plastic driver license.   It is  more than false advertising by CDL truck driving schools . . . it is simply a lie in many cases.

All too many truck driving schools will take the money from anyone willing to shell it out, even if they know for certain that the student is not employable, due to a poor driving record, a past felony conviction, etc.

Yet still, they further entice them with  “Job Placement Assistance” and will receive a letter of “Intent to Hire” from some big name motor carrier to wave in front of the prospective student’s face.  Several months later when the graduate is still without a job, it must be the graduate’s fault.

Blame the truck driver . . . for this industry, it is the coward’s way out.


© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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Another driver advocate pleas for truckers to raise their voices

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Have you noticed?  There’s something in the air….drivers are talking…but they’re not just talking, they’re discussing and sharing opinions, thoughts, and ideas about the challenges that they are continually facing.

The social media websites are filled with buzz about:
more federal regulations, new proposals, drivers classified as unskilled labor, truck parking shortages, detention pay, high fuel costs, anti idling laws, low pay, stricter medical requirements, EOBR’s, HOS,  NAFTA and cross border trucking, and the list goes on.

Here is an example of just one of those discussions which was posted on FaceBook.
Read It.  Understand the reality of “now”:


“Looking Behind the Curtain to See the Wizard of Oz:  The Brainwashing of American Truckers and Others”

by Sandy Long

At carnivals, in seconds smooth talking agents convince someone that they can win that huge, expensive prize for $1.00 by pulling a string.  It is not that the mark is stupid; it is that the agent is a master at brainwashing, even if it is only long enough to get the mark’s money.  Promises of great advantage or disadvantage are the hallmark of brainwashing.

In the trucking industry, about 35-40 years ago, the systematic destruction of the trucker’s image started.  People went in droves to see movies like Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and stayed home to watch B.J. and the Bear (1978-1981).  Both the movie and the T.V. show depicted truckers as outlaws who drank, drove crazily and fought the law.  This culminated during those years in ABC doing a 20/20 story called Killer Truck Drivers.  The reporters went out and interviewed truckers who were laid over for the weekend and partying, needless to say, it was an ugly report.

During the late 1970’s and 80’s continuing to today, study after study has blackened the truck driver’s image.  Driving while fatigued, wanting to hurt other drivers of cars, taking drugs, drinking while driving, excessive body mass, being a driver with disabilities, being unhealthy and being serial killers are attributed to truck drivers.  Of course, the American truck driver is very unsafe too.  Media reports rarely point out that it was a pickup truck that caused an accident, they use the generic ‘truck’ instead, misleading people into thinking it was a semi involved.

The agencies who regulate trucking, and some associations, too are to blame for the destruction of trucker’s images and brainwashing the public.  The people at the agency who have little or no actual trucking experience and no understanding of the job, sit in their offices and listen to people who have been taught to be afraid of truckers, then, make unreasonable rules and regulations.

Or in the case of some associations, the association backs rules and regulations which favor them to increase their bottom line.

People outside of the industry have eaten up this sensationalistic nonsense and have become brainwashed to the realities.  Sadly, many people who have entered the industry in the last 20 years or so too have listened to and read the stories, bought into the sensationalism and have become brainwashed.  Both truckers and non-truckers support more and more regulations concerning the trucking industry because they will not be affected, they think, so they back the regulation to get those ‘bad truckers’ off of the road.

The latest shot across the bow of truck drivers was the NTSB’s suggestion that cell phone use in any fashion while driving be banned.  While at this time, this is just a suggestion, the second one since 2006, with the current trend to punish all truckers for the actions of a very small minority, and the director of the DOT Ray LaHood supporting the ban of distracted driving for truckers, the FMCSA will most likely act upon it.  Even though the study done at the bequest of the DOT by Virginia Tech shows that cell phone use is not the risk it is made out to be, many people including truckers are all or supporting the ban.

The same scenario played out during the flack over body mass index.  People have been brainwashed by decades of diet industry propaganda into thinking that heavy people are lazy, unhealthy and should be thin like models shown in newspapers and other media.  Playing on this brainwashing, and funding from the diet industry and the medical manufacturing sector, people supported forced dieting, sleep studies and even not allowing truckers to drive without using a machine that may or may not be necessary…and then there are the companies who chose to use BMI as a reason not to hire someone.

The types of brainwashing cited above are not as innocuous as the opening paragraph where a mark is only taken for his/her money at a carnival.  The latter examples are insidious and border on bigotry by artificially dividing people for obscure or governmental reasons and causing hate for others only to further restrict another person.  These tactics are a form of control and used to dominate a population eventually;  Hitler used brainwashing to great effect, as do others such as communist countries.

Are you brainwashed? 

Everyone is to some extent; one buys a certain soap because of an advertisement or asks a doctor for some specific medicine because of being told it will cure what ails them.  Are you brainwashed to the extent of believing exactly what you read or hear and using what you supposedly have learned to take away rights for others who have done nothing illegal?

If so, remember Pastor Niemoller and what he had to say after WWII…


FIRST for the Communists
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.


for the Jews
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.


for the trade unionists
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.


for me,
and by that time no one was left to “speak up.”

At some point, something will come up that WILL affect you directly;  you had better hope that someone stands up for you who is not brainwashed against you and who believes in the rights of others.

Sandy Long


On October 15th in Tunica, MS a gathering of drivers and supporters who believe the words in this post will be gathered and will be standing up for the rights of others.  They will be joined by other industry leaders regarding their concerns:

Regulations, Employment Law, Trucking Jobs, Successful O/O business, and the Power of Social Media.

Then, they (drivers and their supporters) will have over 2  hours to SPEAK UP at the podium to address these concerns as the entire event is professionally recorded and nationally covered.

Drivers are taking the opportunity to be HEARD, and hopefully the words in this post are taken earnestly , and those who say they are in agreement, will also be a part of the ACTION required to demonstrate their beliefs and convictions.

Oct 15th at the Gold Strike Hotel in Tunica, MS-
You will have the chance to  show your Unity….Be Honored….  and Be Heard!
Will you stand up?

First Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention


© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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