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Trucker Voices Heard at First Annual Convention

Deaf Truckers United

Jesse Shelander has his "voice" heard at the 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention.


Attendees traveled from twenty eight U.S. states and two countries to participate in the 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention.

Drivers and industry professionals from Canada and Norway took part in the first-of-its-kind event, visiting with attendees from the following states:

Alabama Illinois New Hampshire Texas
Arizona Kentucky Nevada Wisconsin
California Louisiana New York West Virginia
Colorado Minnesota Ohio Wyoming
Delaware Missouri Oklahoma  
Florida Mississippi Pennsylvania  
Georgia Montana South Carolina  
Iowa North Carolina Tennessee  

The Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention is to recognize and honor the professional CDL driver for their contribution to America’s economic livelihood, as well as to bring together, both driver and various industry professionals, to socialize, network and discuss those issues most vital to the driver and industry.

Above all else, it is an event where the professional driver will have the platform to speak and to be heard, raising public awareness and media exposure, strengthening the voice of the driver by becoming involved in the governmental bureaucracy of regulatory decision-making.

Freelance journalist for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Irin Carmon and for the New York Times, Roxanna Asgarian along with senior editor for Overdrive Magazine, Todd Dills;  managing editor Kathleen Buccleugh of Truckers News Magazine ; Amanda Jakl, Editorial Assistant and Social Media Manager of Challenge Magazine; and Lynsay Caylor, social media marketing manager at Pilot Travel Centers,  were all on hand to hear what drivers had to say.

As promised, the 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention turned the mic over to the professional truck driver as the trucker’s voice was heard:

A Driver's "Voice"

A Driver's "Voice"

Jesse Shelander, a member of Facebook’s, Deaf Truckers United, had his “voice” heard through the help of interpreter, Kristy Chaney.  Jesse voiced his concern about the hearing requirement restrictions placed on the deaf, wishing to enter into a truck driving career.  They were motivated by the recent announcement from the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), which stated:

“…as a result of its ongoing advocacy with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) more than twenty deaf and hard of hearing truck drivers who submitted applications for an exemption from the DOT hearing requirements through the NAD in July 2011 are now being considered for full Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) including CDL A and B to drive vehicles with and without airbrakes.”

It is the first time the United States Department of Transportation has agreed to consider waiving its hearing requirements for deaf drivers.  The announcement came just four days before the 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention.


Driver, Ronnie Bowen during the Open Panel Discussion

Driver, Ronnie Bowen during the Open Panel Discussion

Driver, Ronnie Bowen, Jr., stepped up to the mic to express three major points of most concern:

1. That Owner Operators and small independents were under assault with regulations, EPA, HOS, cross-border, CSA and FMCSA, as well as his concern that the American Trucking Association (ATA), is non-representative of drivers.

2. The need to have the professional driver public image “cleaned up” and to re-earn the respect that drivers’ deserve.

3. To implement an inclusion of knowledge about sharing the road with trucks in basic driver license testing.

It is interesting to note here that neither the ATA nor the FMCSA attended or even acknowledged the event.  An invitation to the FMCSA was sent, but it was declined.  One would imagine the FMCSA would appreciate meeting with those whose regulations effect, but apparently not.


Fred Schaffner

Fred Schaffner


Fred Schaffner, from The American Driver, took to the podium and challenged all driver attendees by asking, “What are we going to take with us from this convention?  Are we going to unite and act . . . or not?”

His challenge invoked emotion from the drivers present, to relay the message that drivers must unite and take action, and by raising their voices, can have a say in regulatory decisions.  Fred also speaks from experience by being the one responsible for the removal of the two hour parking limit signs from the Virginia rest areas.


Together, the voices of millions of professional truck drivers can make a difference.  As regulatory expert and guest speaker, Richard Wilson stated during an Overdrive Magazine interview:

“What if we said the CSA SMS rating system, for example was unfair 13 million times, is somebody going to listen?”

Because of the 1st Annual Convention, Fred Schaffner is taking action and will be attending the FMCSA Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee in Arlington, Virginia on Wednesday-Thursday, October 26th-27th, 2011.

The meeting will be devoted to a full discussion on the technical issues that the MCSAC should consider in providing input to the Agency as it develops functional specifications for EOBR’s.

Fred advised me earlier that, “I’m hopeful that with my attendance, truckers can begin to feel their voices will be heard.”

The Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention was established for this very reason:  Honor and recognize our professional truck drivers and to provide a platform where their voices will be heard, not only publicly through media exposure, but where it matters the most . . . in Washington, D.C.

© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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5 Responses to Trucker Voices Heard at First Annual Convention. - Post a Comment

  1. AMW

    Hey thanks for the great post..glad to visit here..pleasure to know about the new launched trucks and their reviews… AMW has launched many new Trucks and other Heavy Vehicles with latest features and quality functions….

  2. Smart Trucking

    This convention, Allen, will hopefully be recorded in trucking history in North America.
    In this industry, it is all too common to complain about how things should be, but as you well know, in order to bring about change, truckers need to be heard (speak up!), and especially unite.
    There is an awful lot of common ground…we just need to establish what we agree on in the industry, and then rise to the next level, to get some action and change. An individual does not have the klout needed for change, but they often have the ideas. Numbers have klout, and I can see that is what you are aiming at with the convention.
    I really liked a few of the points mentioned by some individuals, especially the idea of adding to the driver training program, some focus sharing the road with trucks. It is a really, really big problem on our roads. The majority of folks just do not realize the power nor the weaknesses of a big rig rolling down the road.
    A big thumbs up for all your efforts and congratulations on your success with the first conference. I hope to be able to attend next year’s conference.
    Good job!

  3. Lynsay Caylor

    Hey Allen – This is a great post to recap what was said and heard at the convention. I am so grateful that I was able to attend on behalf of Pilot Flying J so that our company can better understand that daily lives of professional drivers and how we can help make your lives better. Thank you for continuing to write about the convention so that we can all remember the great progress that has been made in bringing the voice of professional drivers together to make positive change in our industry.

  4. Allen Smith

    Thanks Lynsay! It was so great to see you and to finally meet everyone actively involved with professional drivers. The momentum has carried over with the drivers and they are even more enthused about becoming involved with many of their trucking concerns as well as being a part of next years convention, truly is an event for the professional driver and those who support them.

    See you next year! 🙂

  5. […] 7 years ago come this October, the goal to Unite Drivers and Have their Voices Heard emerged at the First annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention.  It was the hope of this event in 2011,  through the Power of Social Media, drivers would unite, […]

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