Trucker and Trucking Activist Stuns Supporters With Surprise Announcement
Carteret, NJ – A New Jersey trucker who helped orchestrate an historic protest in Washington D.C. last year stunned social media followers late last week with a surprise announcement.
After more than 24 years, Rick Santiago is getting out from behind-the-wheel.
“I’m officially done driving in two weeks,” Santiago wrote. “I personally feel I served my country. I also feel I’ve done the Lord’s work by feeding hundreds of thousands of families.”
The social media firebrand and trucking activist told Transportation Nation Network (TNN) a big part of the reason for his decision is because driving has simply taken a toll on his body, especially his knees.
“Physically I am done,” he said. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to walk, so I have to get out from behind-the-wheel.”
However, just because he is leaving the driver’s seat doesn’t mean he is exiting the trucking industry — far from it in fact.
He fully intends to keep fighting for causes he believes in and especially for the men and women who keep America moving.
Santiago will headline a three-day rally beginning May 1, 2021 in Indianapolis, IN to sound the alarm about possible job losses due to expected industry adoption of self-driving trucks.
“Big tech is taking over everything,” Santiago told his Facebook followers in a live stream video last month. “Autonomous trucks are going to take over the industry. If you don’t believe autonomous is real, many years ago we were greeted at McDonald’s with a smile. Now we are greeted with computer screens.”
While such a viewpoint is certainly controversial, that doesn’t bother Santiago.
He created a firestorm of controversy last year when he took to Facebook to expose what he believed were exploitative business practices by some freight brokers at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The series of Facebook LIVE videos sparked outrage within the grassroots trucking community and ultimately spurred a 21-day protest in our nation’s capital, which garnered the attention of then-President Donald Trump.
Critics panned Santiago’s methods and even accused him of staging the videos just to get attention.
However, Santiago simply shrugged off the criticism and is proud of the role he played.
“It worked! We got the President’s attention,” he told TNN last week.
WANT MORE? GET MORE!
Most recently, Santiago successfully teamed up with the Small Business in Transportation Coalition to pressure Minnesota authorities to drop criminal charges against owner-operator Bogdan Vechirko who unintentionally drove his semi-tanker into a crowd of protesters along Interstate 35 in Minneapolis.
Click HERE to read the latest on this case.
Considering A Career in Politics
A political career could be on the horizon for Santiago.
“I am looking at a political future,” he told TNN. “It’s time a truck driver stand up and enter the political world.”
Like many truckers, Santiago said he has grown increasingly frustrated with a political class that is largely disconnected from the “struggle” most truck drivers face on a daily basis.
Among the issues he wants to tackle are: securing funding for more truck parking, relaxing hours of service rules and doing away with the electronic logging devices mandate.
“It’s my personal opinion that blocking highways, doing rallies and protesting isn’t enough to get it done. The only way there is going to be a change in trucking is if a real trucker, that knows what truckers need, is in office.”
Santiago is at peace with his decision and is looking forward to the next chapter in his journey.
“God will tell me what to do next. Whatever it might be, I am going to aim high.”