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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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