These declarations are being made by a Facebook group called Black Smoke Matters.
They are a group of truck drivers that have organized to protest some of the unrealistic regulations that the FMCSA has put into place to regulate the trucking industry.
Truckers Declarations for the 2019 Shutdown
In December 2017 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented a federal regulation requiring all truck drivers of large commercial motor vehicles to use electronic logging devices to record the drivers hours of service. Truck drivers have taken issue with many regulations that they are required to follow. However, the electronic logging device has pushed the American truck drivers too far. As a result, the truck drivers have organized, in Facebook groups, to protest the forced use of electronic logging devices. The first of these groups, called ELD or Me, was created on May 14, 2017. Shortly after, on June 15, 2017, another group was formed called Operation Black and Blue. These two groups went to Washington, D.C. on October 3, 2017. They addressed their grievances with Congressional members and the FMCSA. The FMCSA made declarations that they held a productive meeting with the six truck drivers sent in to meet with them and decided that they would be interested in having more meetings with truck drivers in the future. For the truck drivers, this was a groundbreaking effort but they soon discovered that the FMCSA is more capable of placating truck drivers than they are at resolving the issues with the truck drivers.
Since their initial attempt to resolve the issues with government officials in Washington, D.C., truck drivers have formed many Facebook groups and have made many attempts to reach out to government officials. Monday Information held a media blitz and visited many different government agencies in April 2018, to no avail. The United States Transportation Alliance and Black Smoke Matters visited officials from the FMCSA during an event called "That's a Big 10-4 On DC" in October 2018 and still truck drivers feel as if they aren't being heard. What will it take for truck drivers to be taken seriously?
The Facebook group administrators of Black Smoke Matters decided that if they are not going to be taken seriously then the time has come for them to do something to give our federal officials a reason to take truck drivers seriously. The solution is to call for an industry-wide shutdown. This seems like a sensible idea because no one can force an individual to work. We, the American truck driver, have found that the FMCSA has made false claims in favor for regulations that force truck drivers of large commercial vehicles to use electronic logging devices and feel that is a common practice for the agency.
Some issues that we have found:
The Unfunded Mandate Act
We have found that the FMCSA's statements in regards to the Unfunded Mandate Act are unfounded. The Fmcsa's ideas that the financial burdens for the forced use of electronic logging devices will be offset by paperwork reduction is not applicable to the 99.1 percent of small trucking businesses that make up the trucking industry.
Parking and Hours of Service
The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Act of 2012 as part of the MAP21 Act requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to perform a study on parking availability for large commercial motor vehicles. The DOT is still in the process of performing this study. The FMCSA has acknowledged to that they understand that the hours of service rules are flawed and need to be changed. Therefore, the FMCSA has wrongfully implemented the forced use of electronic logging devices, which has set the truck drivers up for failure.
In 2016 the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report acknowledging the fact that all modern day vehicles may be hacked by what the DOT refers to as "bad actors." The NHTSA's only means to mitigate the risk to protect the public from potential threats was to write up guidelines for what manufacturers of vehicles, aftermarket manufacturers and modifiers of modern day vehicles must do to prevent such attacks. The FMCSA knows the vulnerabilities for cyber security threats to the trucking industry. Some of their statements are as follows:
"Heavy vehicle fleet operators routinely integrate a variety of aftermarket electronic systems into the trucks and buses they operate. Such systems include telematics units,"
"driver monitoring, crash avoidance and other systems that may aid in compliance or operation of the vehicle."
"Such interfaces, with their integration into the vehicle’s electronic systems, offer a potential cyber vulnerability or a “point of entry” that may allow “bad actors” to gain access first to the aftermarket system, and then subsequently to the vehicle’s control sub-systems, including driver interface, braking, throttle and or steering systems. Such connections may possibly be “hacked” to allow malicious attacks"
Due to the ability to hack into the trucks electronic logging device the truck drivers feel that their rights to privacy are being violated. A person's identity and personal information are not secure when anyone may hack into such a device and retrieve that information. The federal government is not holding any responsibility to the vulnerabilities in which they are exposing the American truck driver. When challenged on such issues in a lawsuit by the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the FMCSA declared that "truck drivers should have a lower expectation of privacy while on the job, because trucking is such a highly regulated industry." A panel of owner-operator truck drivers questioned the FMCSA about the issue of self-incrimination the response was " You can’t avoid such incrimination using an ELD" by La Tonya Mimms, Enforcement Division Specialist.
Our fourth amendment right to privacy and our fifth amendment right for protection from self-incrimination are sacred articles in the United States Constitution that truck drivers hold dearly. The FMCSA has admitted in certain regards that they are violating our rights, and pawning off their responsibilities to manufacturers is not acceptable. Our government officials should err on the side of caution anytime that they may have concerns for rights violations.
The above mentioned are some of our greatest concerns in regards to the forced use of the electronic logging device. The American truck drivers have many concerns in how the FMCSA has been administering their duties. 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. Below we are listed other concerns that we have.
Electronic Logging Device
Due to aforementioned issues, we require that the electronic logging device should be a choice.
Currently, the FMCSA is working on creating new hours of service rules. Our issue with what they are doing is that they are using the same failed techniques in doing so. They are thinking in a linear fashion by attempting to cut up a 24 hour period to make a one size fits all approach for a problem that exists because that is what they have done in the past. The truck drivers require a more sensible approach by using conceptual reasoning to address this very important issue.
The FMCSA has developed a training curriculum that the truck drivers deem insufficient. The truck drivers require a training and education system that would genuinely be beneficial to the new to the industry drivers.
Municipalities in the United States will commonly prohibit large commercial motor vehicles from parking or overnight parking with the boundaries of their municipalities. We feel that it is imperative to require States to create truck parking and staging areas within a reasonable distance from municipalities that require outside truck deliveries. These parking and staging areas should be adequate to accommodate the flow of truck traffic that services their area.
Due to the fact that truck drivers are individuals being regulated for the job that they perform, they should be granted the opportunity to form 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. We require this committee to be funded in order to adequately compensate the committee members and cover the cost of doing business.
In its entire nineteen years of existence the FMCSA has not created safer roads as they pertain to the trucking industry. According to the American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry may be responsible for 20 percent of the accidents that they are involved. If on average there are 4,000 fatalities a year then the trucking industry may be responsible for up to 800 fatalities a year. If there are 40,000 fatalities on America's roads a year then the trucking industry may only be responsible for as much as 2 percent of all highway fatalities, while yet they are being highly regulated in inappropriate ways. This is subjugating America's truck drivers to abuses that are unwarranted and we want that to change. However, 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.
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