Positive Change

When it comes to image as a truck driver, our friend Shawn Swanson has the right idea. The name of his truck is Pure Attitude and the fifth wheel cover he had at the Walcott Trucker’s Jamboree said “Attitude Is Everything” – and he is right. Your attitude really is everything, no matter what the situation, the old saying holds true – you get more bees with honey than vinegar. Portraying a positive image and having a positive attitude is the key for positive change.

A positive image for a truck driver is so much more than just how you look. Every time you get out of your truck you are judged by how you look, how you talk and how you act. It’s dangerous out on the road and it seems aggressive and distracted driving has almost become the norm, making our reaction to it that much more important. We need to be aware of what’s going on around us every second, control our emotions, and not become (or contribute) to the problem.

The public has opinions about us and, sadly, many of them are not very favorable – but together, we can help change that! There is a group of drivers who are still passionate about what they do and how they do it, and they aren’t just sitting back and complaining any longer. They are doing something and encouraging others to join them.

The week of April 9-13, 2018 a group of about 30 trucks parked in D.C. They obtained the proper permits while there, and during that week the drivers got to talk to the FMCSA, Homeland Security and several Representatives. This was a learning experience, and these drivers got a quick education about what it takes to lobby for bills that might help make the regulations concerning trucks more sensible. A few of these drivers are still taking the time each month to go to D.C. and meet with people who can help make a difference.

Because of their success in April, Brian Brase and Allen Kelly decided to do it again. The men came up with the idea of trying to get a record number of drivers to go to Washington D.C. and really make a statement. They decided to choose October 4th as the fitting date for their “That’s a Big 10-4 on DC” event. The CB acknowledgment makes perfect sense (we here at 10-4 Magazine celebrate “10-4 Day” each year, so this date is already near and dear to all our hearts).

This event is not just for owner operators. Company drivers are also welcome and encouraged to participate, too, because these issues affect all truck drivers – not just owner operators. To be part of this hopefully historic event, company drivers need to get permission from their employers and, hopefully, companies will see the value in what we are trying to do and let their presence be seen, as well. Getting drivers to band together would be a big accomplishment. Allen Kelly said, “This is not about me, it’s not about you, it’s about us!” And boy, isn’t that the truth!

Filling the mall in D.C. with trucks on October 4th would make a statement that will get nationwide media attention. It creates an opportunity to tell the public about the challenges we face and how it directly affects them, as fellow drivers and consumers. The purpose of this event is to create driver unity and raise public awareness about the serious issues we deal with out on the road.

On the group’s informative website (www.tenfourdc.com), it states that the group is working to end government overreach and ensure fair regulations for all. Brian Brase, Group Liaison, said, “We’re going to Washington, D.C. again this October – only this time we’re rolling in with style and grace. This is about public awareness, pride in our trucks and pride in our industry. We want to enjoy time together yet inform the public about the ongoing issues plaguing our industry. This is a different approach to raise awareness about the issues.”

Last April in D.C., tourists as well as legislators came up to the drivers to ask what was going on. The pictures of the shutdown back in the 70s got media attention, but probably didn’t gain a lot of public support by the people trying to use those highways. As drivers, we can talk about a shutdown, but will that really gain us support? No, it won’t. It would give us more negative publicity. This is a positive way to fight for our cause and talk to the people who can change what is wrong with the laws as they are written. Also, if we can get the general public calling their senators and representatives about these same issues, that might get their attention, and maybe motivate them to do something on our behalf. After all – they are supposed to REPRESENT us, right?!

Truckers are fiercely-independent people, with a variety of opinions, and that has always been one of the biggest problems – getting drivers together to fight legislation that has a negative impact on everyone in the industry, no matter their opinions. Times have changed, and this is one thing that is in serious need of an overhaul.

New drivers are a necessity, as none of us will be out here forever. One driver I talked to called some of the schools “Trucker Mills” – I have always said, we all need to remember that we were new drivers once upon a time, too. I always tell new drivers, the only way you learn something is by doing it. The schools teach you the basics to get your CDL, but after that, it depends on the company you go with from there to get the training and experience you need to become a good driver. Trucking is not a perfect world, but we might be able to make it a lot better by going back to some of the old ways (like when drivers used to stop to help fellow drivers).

The fight is real, and the benefits could help all of us when it comes to how the hours of service are set up. Trucking is not a “one size fits all” industry, but the regulations, the way they are written, are trying to make it that. There needs to be flexibility in the 14-hour rule, because people are racing now once the clock starts, trying to get every mile possible, before their time is up. And, sadly, many of the ways they’re doing it aren’t safe.

If all the people who say “my one vote doesn’t count” got together, the number would be huge – and it would make a big difference. Let’s get together in Washington D.C. on October 4th and make a difference! It can’t hurt to try, and who knows, we just might make history (or at least create some positive change). For more information about this event, join them on Facebook at “thats a big 10-4 on dc” or go to their website at www.tenfourdc.com.

About Kim Grimm

Kim Grimm has had a license to drive a truck since April of 1978 and has driven millions and millions of miles ever since. Living in Wisconsin with her beloved cocker spaniels, Kim, who is a long-haul owner operator, has been a regular contributor to 10-4 Magazine since 2003.