Black Smoke Matters Is Back And Sounding Off On President Trump, ATA, And More
Jackson, Georgia – The grassroots social media trucking group Black Smoke Matters (BSM) is back, but this time BSM leaders say things are going to be different.
“A lot of people didn’t think we were going to come back,” co-founder Joe Denney told Transportation Nation Network (TNN) in wide-ranging exclusive interview on Wednesday.
Denney, along with new BSM president, Greg Anderson, and BSM administrator, Todd Campbell, discussed the group’s renewed vision to make a difference in the trucking community.
“We are trying to handle it more professionally and we are getting more people coming onboard,” Anderson said.
BSM has undergone a change in leadership since its highly-publicized nationwide trucker shutdown fell flat earlier this year.
Anderson is now president and Daniel Dorris is the vice president. The group has also added new administrators in the hopes of providing better strategic vision going forward.
Denney acknowledged a new team of leaders was necessary to win back the trust and confidence of some who may have been turned off by the group’s rough around the edges persona and reputation.
“We’ve learned from our mistakes in the past and we are trying to make a stand to make a difference in the future,” Anderson elaborated. “There will not be bashing of other people or groups on BSM’s Facebook page.”
Campbell said it is important to keep the proper perspective on BSM’s history thus far.
“Even setbacks are a positive because at least you tried,” he explained.
Back In the Spotlight
BSM is once again back in the spotlight after agreeing to a sit down interview with MSNBC.
Leaders met up with MSNBC’s team at Ole Rudy’s BBQ, a favorite stop for truckers, in Jackson, Georgia, on May 28th.
The more than 4-minute segment aired on the network on Wednesday. You can watch it below.
In it, BSM leaders sounded off on their frustration with the Trump Administration over its handling of issues such as tax policy, the trucker parking shortage, driver training standards, and the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate.
“We feel very disappointed by President Trump,” Anderson told TNN. “We feel very let down.”
At the heart of their discontent is their inability, so far, to secure a meeting with President Trump personally.
Denney said the group is disappointed because “he [Trump] never acknowledged us.”
Further exacerbating their dissatisfaction is the fact the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has been integrally involved with the Trump Administration on a host of issues facing the trucking industry; and yet President Trump, BSM leaders believe, hasn’t talked directly with small business truckers.
Pictures of ATA’s America’s Road Team meeting President Trump at the White House in March 2017 have been widely circulated within the trucking community.
Images of Mr. Trump honking the horn of the Mack Pinnacle big rig parked on the White House lawn have left some truckers like BSM feeling left out instead of included.
“We want to pull our trucks in front of the White House and have him honk the real horns,” Denney said. “I don’t feel like we are being heard.”
Campbell echoed Denney’s sentiments. “There is a whole other world out here other than the ATA,” he stated. “The only thing that D.C. listens to is special interest groups.”
Though the Trump Administration has taken steps to end or stall Obama-era policies like requiring speed limiters in commercial big rigs and stricter regulations pertaining to sleep apnea testing for truckers, BSM leaders aren’t persuaded.
“He hasn’t done anything for us,” Denney said.
As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prepares to publish its newly proposed hours of service (HOS) rule into the Federal Register on Friday, June 7, BSM leaders expressed their pessimism that it will truly provide “100% flexibility” to America’s small business truckers.
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“They are taking the American Dream”
BSM leaders contend they are fighting to keep the hope of achieving the “American Dream” alive for many in the trucking industry.
“They are taking the American Dream. If I don’t stand up and fight against the tyranny of our government then what good am I,” Campbell said.
Anderson said the next battle front is the expansion of autonomous vehicle deployment which he fears could soon lead to the displacement of many behind-the-wheel of big rigs.
On May 22, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to remove “unnecessary” regulations slowing the deployment of automated driving systems (ADS).
In the announcement, DOT officials said they are seeking comments to “ensure that all potential approaches are fully considered as the agencies move forward with these regulatory actions.”
“Blue-collar America is under attack with all of this autonomous stuff. We are going to have to come together in middle class America,” Anderson said.
BSM leaders said they will be participating in and promoting Ten Four DC scheduled for October 3-5, 2019.
The annual call on Washington “public awareness event” continues to grow, Campbell said.
“A lot of us still believe in government ‘by the people and for the people.’ Now it’s all about the greed. We are not going away,” Campbell warned.
Interested in reading more of TNN’s BSM coverage? Click HERE.