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Independent truckers speak out on National Mall

Trucks lined up on National Mall October 4, 2019. Credit: John Gallagher/FreightWaves

A.C. Daniel, an independent owner-operator who has been hauling freight for 45 years, had his best year ever last year – he logged 92,000 miles and grossed $217,000.

However, “this year, rates were cut in half,” Daniel told FreightWaves. Among the reasons for the falloff, at least as Daniel saw it, was more freight capacity driving down rates. Daniel saw it from agriculture haulers (who normally would be tending to farms, but a wetter-than-usual crop season in the Midwest pushed them into trucking) as well as container haulers affected by the Chinese tariffs, who then switched to hauling trailers.

But as Daniel talked about trucking while sitting under a tent on the National Mall on a sunny October 4 in Washington, D.C., it wasn’t freight economics that most concerned the 64-year-old from southern Virginia. It’s a handful of proposed federal regulations that, if passed, will drive him and other independent truckers out of business, he asserted.

A.C. Daniel at 10-4 DC event. Credit: John Gallagher

Daniel was part of a convoy of 40 to 50 other small owner-operators that parked along the Mall for “10-4 DC,” a rally to inform the public of what they consider to be small-business killing regulations.

“We’re not here to have a battle with anybody, we’re here for awareness and to let people know the things that we have to deal with,” said Doug Hasner, Director of Human Resources at the United States Transportation Alliance, one of the event’s organizers.

A proposed increase in liability insurance is at the top of the list. Legislation was introduced in Congress this summer that would raise the minimum amount of liability insurance required for trucks from $750,000 to $4.9 million. Backers of the legislation say the bill is aimed at improving medical care compensation for families affected by truck crashes.

Hasner maintains, however, that while large national carriers are able to self-insure their fleets with a $25 million bond, the hike in insurance would cause an independent hauler’s premium to double or triple, thereby making them unable to compete with company drivers.

“Right now I pay $12,610 a year [for insurance], and this would raise it three times that,” Daniel said. “The independent trucker can’t take that kind of a hit. In my opinion they’re trying to force us to pull for the mega-carriers. But I’ll never do it.”

Other pieces of legislation introduced in the current Congress that the group is fighting against includes the Stop Underrides Act, which would require installing front, side and rear underride guards on all trailers over a certain weight; the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019, which would mandate speed limiters set to 65 mph; and the Safe Roads Act, which would require automatic braking systems for new trucks.

Rose LeFavi at 10-4 DC. Credit: John Gallagher

Members of the group that spoke with FreightWaves were skeptical about the flexibility that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has included in the proposed changes to the hours of service regulations.

Rose LeFavi, whose said her truck was stolen and has yet to be recovered, said that the agency rarely has listened to the concerns of independent truckers in the past, which get drowned out by the messages of large carriers with well-paid lobbyists.

“They haven’t taken us into account yet; it’s all been lip service,” LeFavi said. “The proof is in the pudding. They haven’t shown me anything to make life any easier for any of these truckers so far.”

LeFavi, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also believes the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is another unnecessary expense. “You may have had a handful of wrongdoers, just like in any industry, who are fudging the logbooks. But why make everyone pay for it? The agenda is to collect information – these ELDs are tracking us everywhere we go.” 


  1. Kent Krueger

    I know an Owner/Operator, now retired who left the business because of health problems and because the company he was signed on with were requiring all Owner/Operator’s to install Quall/Com on their tractors. He found this to be a problem because his runs normally consisted of running from NE Wisconsin to New Orleans almost weekly for a Monday delivery. Problem is, he would not leave until Sunday afternoon. With paper logs he could say he left Saturday. With the Quall/Com the company would know when he really left. It was no secret that drivers were fudging their logs. This is why Government types came up with ELD. Did bureaucrats screw it up? Of course they did. They tried to regulate an industry they don’t understand. Still, drivers cheated on their log books. Often because they had to. Politicians needed to look at more than just the drivers before they wrote up a bunch of rules. They also need to look at shippers, receivers, trucking companies and quite frankly the general motoring public and start over. And yes, the doggone DOT needs to provide more areas for the drivers to rest when it’s time to take a break.

  2. Loren

    They fight against socialized medicine??? Yet they don’t back small business??? The powerful wants more control??? Capitalism seems to be heading toward dictatorship. Give and take or just take is the question. Are government is controlled by the powerful, there is no leadership for the people in are government. We are no longer free, we are owned.

  3. Noble1

    Allow me to ask you a few questions .

    What is a carrier without a driver ?

    What is a freight broker without a carrier ?

    What is a major motor carrier association without members ?

    Answer : NOTHING !

    So if drivers were to unite and structure themselves with the aim of eliminating their dependency on a middleman “carrier” , that middleman vanishes .

    And if drivers structure themselves to become the carrier without the need to depend on the middleman freight broker , that middleman also vanishes .

    If drivers who are the backbone were to structure themselves into becoming their own carrier and their own freight broker and deal directly with the shippers that don’t haul for themselves , they become the industry and got rid of all the middlemen vultures that are making a killing off the backs of drivers . Drivers are simply aiming to cut their costs and increase their profits by being competitive .

    Driver division is the cancer which serves the carriers and freight brokers at the drivers expense . Drivers are being used to compete against each other by the middlemen . Rather than compete against yourselves , why not compete against those who are using you to their advantage ?

    You ultimately become “THE” trucking association . Everyone else in the industry caters to you ,not the other way around .

    Now that would be quite competitive . In the USA you’re roughly three million drivers . If only 1% to 2% of you united and collectively structured yourselves professionally with good counseling you could take the industry by storm and become one heck of a competitor that would be a force to be reckoned with , and you would attract more drivers to join in .

    You start in the USA and concentrate on expanding into your major trading partner Canada at first , then Mexico . This structure of yours , a business, would be eligible for government grants if you want them . You’re creating a business that will create jobs . And believe me you won’t lack “employees/candidates”, co-owners. This “driver business” of yours gets involved with immigration programs . You will ensure that no driver will ,nor feel the need to compete with one another and much less want to drive for someone else . No more driver abuse . And this collective “truck driver business” develops many subsidiaries . This will lead to many different employment opportunities .

    Regulations will become the last of your worries . Lack of parking and charging you to park will be non existent .

    What’s the catch ? LOL there is no “catch” ! FREEDOM from the vultures and the BS nonsense is your reward if you take action and structure yourselves wisely ! No fighting , no protesting . UNITING !

    As an example :
    You gather your members(drivers)open a fiduciary account and contribute to start funding your operation . 1% of three million drivers equals thirty thousand drivers . If each driver contributes $1 per business day per month($20) , at the end of the first thirty days you will have accumulated $600,000.00 . This should be more than enough to fund counseling and a feasibility study to start . Even half a percent of 3 million drivers could start you off ,perhaps less .

    So for $20 each you can start launching the creation of your new destiny for a sustainable and prosperous change .

    Now why in the heck would you want to go and protest through some sort of a shutdown while losing major dollars in the process to earn pennies while pi$$ing people off ??? What is that going to get you ? A temporary band aid on a cancer ??? That’s ludicrous !

    Now what are you waiting for ? Be pioneers and DISRUPT the industry !

    In my humble opinion …………….

  4. Gentry E Newsom

    If truckers have to abide by eld (gps) so should every citizen in the usa. And that means if citizens run out of hos then call a cab or take the bus then walk the rest of the way.
    Truckers Civil Rights or do they have any? We live our lives on the road (unless your a local mud duck) non migritory trucker (part timer) we should be allowed liberty while living our lives. I can remember not so long ago my wife & I would stop off after delivering & camp/fish/swim/infltableboat on some nice lakes & rivers ? she no longer go’s on runs with me since elds were mandated she said its not any fun at all just a race with a clock & she is right. Oh and a bunch angry truck drivers racing to finish there mileage before there clock runs out then get in that truck stop to get a parking spot? Because they all get done around sundown? That is not the safe way to make people plan trips that are running #80.000lbs right next to small cars n trucks carring human cargo….They say its safety they are improving bs they the goverment employees are supposed to protect and serve the citizens of the USA AND WHAT I SEE IS EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE OF PROTECTION….TRULY

    1. Noble1

      ELD’s are not about safety , they are about gathering information, enforcing regulations, and leveling the playing field by making everyone play by the same rules .

      The same in regards to speed limiters . It’s not about safety . It’s about reducing fuel costs and leveling the playing field among participants . That’s how they can remain “competitive” . Otherwise if major motor carrier A installs a speed limiter to save on fuel while major carrier B and C do not , then MMC A cannot be as competitive as MMC B & C . Same goes for the OO’s MMC’s compete with .

      Safety is the propaganda they use to CONvince the masses into changing public opinion in agreement with the MMC’s desire .

      In my humble opinion …………

  5. Elvis Durant

    40 or 50 trucks aint gonna cut it. Need at least 10K trucks in DC once a month until government gets their crap together…….If truckers were smart, just prepare to get the hell out of this business….Simply a waste of absolute time!

  6. John tate

    Since the eld has been mandated the amount of wreckage has jumped for 11.3 percent to 18.7 percent so it’s not just more expense the mandated is hurting people . Dropping the truck to 65 is definitely not a good ideal split speed limits is not safe for anyone it doesn’t take a genius to know that. Raising the insurance or anything else for that matter is just plain stupid it’s going to be past on to the customers and where in the hell is Donald Trump on stopping all the regulations on the trucks like he promised you lying son of bitch!!!

  7. Alric

    Truckers have been to cowardly and done nothing to keep these Natzis in the white house in check. Stop hauling for a few weeks and tell these morons to cease with their lies. None of their proposed “safety” regulations have ever been proven to improve safety and yet they will keep implementing these regulations because truckers allow it. The Feds are getting to big for my liking. If them and their kind vanished I’d shed no tears. The land they’re on isn’t even part of the United States. I’d rather see my state part ties with those crooked politicians. Keep them out of my business. They can have trucking..

    1. Noble1

      We cannot “change” people . But what we can do is “outsmart” them ……….

      If you cause unease you give them reason to retaliate . We do not want to cause unease . We simply want to change their public opinion .

      The last thing you want is to cause a civil war .

      Ceasing to haul consumer goods will only lead to chaos and render the general consumer(public) the truckers ultimate enemy . They will blame the trucker for their suffering and will side with government to defend them .
      Believe me that war is lost before it even starts . The general public out numbers truckers millions to one .

      You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar .

      In my humble opinion ………..

  8. Noble1

    “We’re not here to have a battle with anybody, we’re here for awareness and to let people know the things that we have to deal with,”
    “a convoy of 40 to 50 other small owner-operators ”

    That’s not the way to do it in my humble opinion !

    There’s a way to attract people to your cause and make them aware that is much more powerful than the way you’re attempting .

    Number 1 – Truck drivers in general don’t have a good reputation in the publics eye . This is what needs to change FIRST .
    The publics perception about truck drivers needs to change .

    Number 2- You never use the word “FIGHT” in your approach and much less in your slogan .

    These are the sorts of things you learn about in “PUBLIC RELATIONS” !

    And that’s what you need , a public relations campaign . And it doesn’t start in the street per say . In the street you may be viewed upon as a disturbance by the general public at first . Therefore if parading in the street becomes an eventual necessity you will want the public to support you . And the way that you get the publics support is by informing them and educating them .

    You need to also understand your opposition . In this case government . You are David going up against Goliath ! So you need to be extremely shrewd and certainly not advocate any form of aggression .

    Example : “help fight against regulations” contradicts your statement , and I quote: “We’re not here to have a battle with anybody” . Though you’re asking for people to help you FIGHT regulations and regulations are set by the GOVERNMENT !

    Therefore you’re asking people to “FIGHT” GOLIATH !

    You need to be very careful about the message you’re sending through words and the wording that you use in an attempt to deliver your message !

    Currently your slogan contradicts the general publics desire due to truck driver bad reputation . THEY WANT MORE REGULATIONS and so do major motor carriers .

    Truck drivers are the KINGS & QUEENS of the road in regards to their size and you’re scaring the public due to bad driving maneuvers . The public doesn’t really see your face , they see your vehicle and the result of a bad maneuver coming from your vehicle . And they will put you all in the same basket ,period .

    You need to change their perception . This is one of the main reasons I always advocate that truck drivers need to be a friend and make a friend . You want to come across as being friendly , understanding , and caring . Some of you do ,however, your reputation has been tainted so gravely that it will take one heck of a PR campaign to change it .

    You need to mold their minds ! Then influence their behavior in accordance to your desire . However , the trick is NOT to dupe them , be ethical . The public has been duped enough by you know who .

    Give it some thought .

    I personally would unite truck drivers , design a plan and organize into materializing it through a top notch strategy that could not fail ethically .

    In my humble opinion ………….

Comments are closed.

John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.