Black Smoke Matters Not Blowing Smoke, Outlines Specific Goals For Looming Shutdown
“Inappropriate regulations, FMCSA… subjugating America’s truck drivers to abuses that are unwarranted and we want that to change.” – Black Smoke Matters
Little Rock, Arkansas – An uprising is taking place within the trucking industry. If you listen closely you can hear the chorus of diesel engines becoming a loud roar as many truckers are joining together to fight back against what they believe is unfair and “unconstitutional” treatment by federal legislators, regulators and certain industry stakeholders.
How We Got Here
For years truckers have lamented about the over-regulation of the industry. In the face of growing regulation, truck drivers have dutifully continued delivering North America’s freight in order to keep American families fed, including their own.
Meanwhile, heavily funded special interest groups whose bought and paid for safety studies and public relations campaigns, pointed the finger at some truckers as an unsafe and careless band of highway renegades. These renegades, they say, along with every other professional truck driver must have their hours-of service regulations tightened and their every movement tracked in the interest of the common good.
As truckers have endured more and more indignities, it is common to hear drivers wonder aloud what recourse they have against an opposition that is well-organized and well-funded. It’s also common to hear drivers opine about the impact a “shutdown” would have and the message it would send to federal legislators, regulators, special interest safety groups, and the American public.
A group of truckers calling themselves “Black Smoke Matters” says the time to execute a planned shutdown is now and announced last week they are calling for a nationwide trucker shutdown on April 12, 2019.
Standing As One
If you follow trucking news, you will no doubt recall the spontaneous social media uprisings among truckers shortly after learning of the looming electronic logging devices mandate. As drivers began to contemplate what it would mean for them and their operations, disbelief gave way to anger, and anger ushered in a growing sense of resolve to fight.
So, these groups joined together to call on legislators and regulators in Washington, D.C., in October 2017. Those involved left these meetings encouraged by what they heard and believed they would continue to have a seat at the discussion table about the way forward.
Over the course of the next year, leaders of these groups continued making efforts to reach out to our nation’s leaders, but didn’t feel they were being heard. As a result, social media groups like the United States Truckers Alliance (USTA) and Black Smoke Matters (BSM) headed back to D.C. in October of 2018. They held a 48-hour rally on the national mall calling it “That’s A Big 10-4 On D.C.”
However, leaders of these groups walked away not believing they were being “taken seriously.” Now, the leaders of BSM are demanding to be heard in a whole new way.
Black Smoke Matters Calls For Nationwide Shutdown On 4-12-19, But What Are Their GOALS?
Last week BSM announced they were calling for a nationwide trucker shutdown on April 12, 2019. They have deemed the shutdown as the “Stand As One Shutdown.” Now we are learning more about the goals of the planned shutdown.
In a statement released on their website, the group says federal regulators are “subjugating America’s truck drivers to abuses that are unwarranted and we want that to change.”
In the detailed statement, BSM outlined their grievances and solutions.
Electronic Logging Devices
BSM wants to see ELDs become a choice, not a requirement. BSM argues the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) “has wrongfully implemented the forced use of electronic logging devices, which has set the truck drivers up for failure.
Lack Of Cybersecurity Violates “Constitutional Rights”
BSM says, “The FMCSA knows the vulnerabilities for cybersecurity threats to the trucking industry,” and yet there only response thus far was to “write up guidelines for what manufacturers of vehicles, aftermarket manufacturers and modifiers of modern day vehicles must do to prevent such attacks.”
BSM wants to see more done to protect the “constitutional rights” of all truckers. “Due to the ability to hack into the trucks electronic logging device the truck drivers feel that their rights to privacy are being violated,” BSM says. “The federal government is not holding any responsibility to the vulnerabilities in which they are exposing the American truck driver.”
Failure Of FMCSA Leading To More “Stress” And “Financial Burden” For Drivers
BSM wants the FMCSA to acknowledge that their unwillingness to adequately hear and address the concerns of America’s truckers is a source of “stress” for the labor force. “Safety is supposed to be the chief concern for the FMCSA and we feel that they have fallen short of the mark in many regards. In fact, they have created more job-related stress and financial burden to the small independent carriers, owner-operators, and independent drivers.
Reasonable HOS Rules
BSM wants to see what they call “reasonable HOS” rules and reforms put into place. In order to accomplish this, the group says FMCSA should no longer be viewing this issue in a “linear” way by “attempting to cut up a 24 hour period to make a one size fits all approach.” FMCSA should not seek to utilize “conceptual reasoning to address this very important issue,” the group says.
Better Training Requirements
Characterizing FMCSA’s “training curriculum” as “insufficient,” BSM is calling for “a training and education system that would genuinely be beneficial” to drivers new to the industry.
Require States To Create Truck Parking And Staging Areas
The parking shortage continues to wreak havoc on many truckers and BSM wants federal legislators and regulators to stop delaying action. They are calling for a unique set of solutions which includes requiring states to create “truck parking and staging areas within a reasonable distance from municipalities that require outside truck deliveries.”
In addition, BSM says these parking and staging areas “should be adequate to accommodate the flow of truck traffic that services their area.”
Formation Of Committee Of Truck Drivers To Advise Congress
Frustrated with the lack of input from truckers in the legislative and regulatory processes, BSM wants to see the formation of “a committee of truck drivers from all sectors of the trucking industry to act as advisors to the U.S. Congressional oversight committees and the Department of Transportation.”
Additionally they say they want federal funding of this committee in order to “adequately compensate the committee members and cover the cost of doing business.”
BSM concluded its statement by saying, “we are willing to accept our responsibility in what accidents that we are responsible and hold the highest expectation for the respect that we deserve to be allowed to be an instrumental part of the process for achieving safer travel conditions on America’s roads.”
To read BSM’s full statement click HERE.
Transportation Nation Network will continue to bring you the latest on further developments.
Images shared courtesy of Black Smoke Matters
PREVIEW: We’re on duty and taking a look at the ongoing battle against the electronic logging devices mandate. Has the mandate been a success so far? One group of truckers doesn’t think so and is now promising to fight it like never before. They call themselves TruckerNation. We’ll introduce you to them.