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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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