Black Smoke Matters Takes Manhattan, Police Escort Out Of NYC & Chicago
New York, New York – The long-awaited, much debated nationwide trucker shutdown, organized by the social media group, Black Smoke Matters (BSM), began on Friday and participants are already garnering attention.
A group of truckers met in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in the early morning hours before bobtailing to New Jersey and then slow rolling across the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan at approximately 10:30 a.m. local time.
The plan was simple… get media attention.
The group was seeking interviews with CBS, ABC, CNN and other major news outlets.
They hoped to inform the public about what they believe to be are deteriorating working conditions for truck drivers.
Additionally, they say they are concerned with what they view are growing dangers on U.S. roadways due to under-trained commercial drivers, inflexible hours of service (HOS) regulations, lack of safe truck parking, and the burdensome electronic logging devices mandate.
“There were people climbing up on our trucks wanting to know what we were doing. People were taking pictures. It was chaotic.” – Scott Overmiller, owner operator and participant in NYC slow roll
The group made their first stop at ABC7 New York on Columbus Avenue between 66th and 67th Street in Manhattan.
Once there, the group of 26 trucks began sounding the air horns and making plenty of noise.
Scott Overmiller has been an owner operator since 2006 and was part of Friday’s convoy in New York City. “We were quiet and didn’t make noise until we got to ABC7,” he told Transportation Nation Network (TNN). “Once we got to there we pulled our air brakes, sounded our air horns and made noise until they interviewed us.”
Overmiller said it was quite a spectacle. “There were people climbing up on our trucks wanting to know what we were doing. People were taking pictures. It was chaotic,” he said.
A couple of drivers were interviewed and then the group continued on to their next planned stop along a legal truck route Overmiller contends was carefully mapped in advance.
However, before the convoy could get much further, Overmiller said they were confronted by police and told the group would have to leave the city. “I don’t know why they (police) did it,” Overmiller questioned.
He says the police then blocked traffic and guided the group safely out of Manhattan.
According to an earlier report by ABC7, NYPD expressed concern that slow-moving trucks could cause traffic back-ups or crashes.
Police said truckers who participate could be held liable for any accidents. No accidents were reported.
The group then stopped in the Bronx at another local news affiliate to give an interview before slow rolling back to New Jersey.
“We did what we set out to do. I hope we opened some eyes and we can start getting some respect we deserve,” Overmiller said.
The plan now is to meet back up in Carlisle over the weekend where they have a truck lot reserved, before setting their sights on Washington D.C. on Monday.
Members of BSM plan to meet with representatives from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Chicago Slow Roll Thwarted By Police
Meanwhile, a group of BSM leaders attempted to lead a slow roll protest through Chicago today, but were thwarted by local police who one source said, “shut all the exits down… and wouldn’t let them in the city.”
A report by NBC Chicago estimated the total number of trucks participating to be around 30.
Troopers monitored the group as they convoyed from Monee and eventually blocked exits the trucks would have taken into downtown Chicago.
The trucks then continued north on Dan Ryan Expressway towards the O’Hare airport and eventually dispersed.
Police said they were concerned the group of trucks would have created a safety hazard for motorists and pedestrians within the city.
TNN will have more on this developing story soon, so stay logged on to TransportationNation.com for the latest.
Recent Polling Suggests “Numbers Are Starting To Grow”
TNN reported this week that results of an unscientific poll conducted by the 15,000-member Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) showed half of respondents indicated they had either already suspended operations or were planning to.
Their poll reported 4 in 10 respondents as indicating they too will be joining in the shutdown.
Bryan Hutchens, board member of legislation and compliance with BSM, told TNN late Thursday night these polls are validation that the movement is growing. “It just proves that the numbers really are starting to grow,” he said. “A lot of people are realizing this shutdown is maybe what’s needed.”
“It just proves that the numbers really are starting to grow. A lot of people are realizing this shutdown is maybe what’s needed.” – Bryan Hutchens, BSM, board member of legislation and compliance
Hutchens asserted the stakes could not be higher for small trucking businesses and the motoring public. “Companies are going bankrupt and people are dying out here every day. Even FMCSA admits there are issues like people running tired because of ELDs,” he commented.
Further, he claimed the shutdown would have already achieved greater numbers if trucking media outlets had reported it accurately from the beginning.
He pointed to the “inaccurate reporting” by many that the shutdown was just a “one day event.”
TNN first reported in January that BSM leaders were calling for the shutdown to last “as long as it takes.”
Hutchens explained, “If this would have been fairly reported from the first day it started, I believe a lot more people would have seen through the smoke and mirrors and see this is the only way to fix this industry.”
Want more of TNN’s BSM coverage? Click HERE.
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