2019 has brought a lot of new year’s resolutions and big plans. This is par for the course any time the calendar flips over – but not everyone making a goal is a single individual.
Sometimes the biggest goals and resolutions involved individuals coming together in droves. Imagine dozens, hundreds, and thousands of people aligning their efforts to make a change. And now put that image in the context of a professional effort, and you have a picture for what trucking may see this year.
In 2017, there was the big ELD mandate. In 2018, there was the ELD or Me protests and a slew of other organized efforts to help make the industry a better place. Now the next incarnation of Trucker Lives Matter is in the works. The Black Smoke Matters protest is set for April 12 and could very well shut down the entire industry – or at least large segments of it.
This effort is tailored toward bringing attention to some of trucking’s most pressing issues. The first is hours of service rules, which are entwined with the ELD debate. With drivers now having their hours logged electronically, it is impossible for them to alter logs to get the road time they need in the event their work schedule is delayed.
Trapped behind traffic jams or caught in congestion at receiving bays leaves truckers with the clock rolling – but not getting any miles on their check. Many truckers claim ELDs aren’t the problem, and that the real culprit is an unreasonable hours of service policy.
They’ll also be focused around refining the approach shippers and receivers are taking around loading/unloading efforts. This can have as much of an impact on truckers’ lives, and their ability to stay on schedule, as anything.
There’s also the matter of better training and safety standards to protect drivers and get new hires to join up. Trucking is currently short on many jobs and needs to close that gap in the coming years.
Other popular issues that will be addressed in the protest include FMCSA standards for regulations and inspections, as well as ensuring drivers have more of a voice in the industry where they work. Traditionally, drivers are sometimes overruled or looked past in favor of the opinions of safety groups and regulatory agencies. While these groups need a voice too, truckers must be heard to ensure they can still make an honest, safe living.
The group’s mission statement notes that the protest stands behind the people’s right to abolish any form of government that becomes destructive in the lives of the people it impacts. With many regulatory measures seemingly handicapping the industry and those who work in it, organized action may be the only solution.
By urging truckers to join them in shutting off their engines for one day in April, the group hopes to bring more attention to their issues and get their input heard. Given how important trucking is to the economy, this protest may make everyone take notice.