All That's Trucking

ELDs, Truck Drivers, and the Power of a Hashtag

Blog commentary by Deborah Lockridge, HDT Editor in Chief

December 5, 2017

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Screenshot of broadcast from WSYR-TV
Screenshot of broadcast from WSYR-TV

If the hashtag #MeToo, which accompanied a flood of women sharing their stories on social media in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, was able to change the national conversation about sexual harassment, could an online movement have the same kind of power for drivers protesting mandatory electronic logging devices?

More than 20 years ago, in 1996, I wrote a feature called A Trucker’s Introduction to the Internet. I wrote about e-mail, the World Wide Web, search engines, how to get on the Internet via providers such as America Online and AlterNet … and about something called UseNet newsgroups, the electronic bulletin boards that were the precursor to social media.

I was struck this week about how things have changed. All you have to do is look at the social-media-fueled efforts of truckers to express their displeasure with the electronic logging device mandate.

It started in October, as truckers took to Twitter in response to President Trump using the American Trucking Associations for a backdrop during a tax reform speech. The tweet storm used the hashtag #ELDorMe. And by tweeting to @POTUS and @realDonaldTrump using the hashtag, drivers took their concerns directly to the Oval Office, or wherever it is the president likes to use Twitter.

This week, social media was used to organize anti-ELD rallies planned in more than 40 states Monday. A Facebook group distributed information and posted photos and local news reports of the events.

According to published reports, a group of about 50 truckers held a news conference in the office of U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), while trucks circled the statehouses in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Screenshot of broadcast from WSYR-TV
Screenshot of broadcast from WSYR-TV

The Monday “media blitz,” which focused on trying to get local reporters to run with the story, got a fair amount of publicity, including in Lancaster, Pennsylania; Frankfort, Kentucky; Newton, Kansas; Gulfport, Mississippi, Nashville, Tennessee, West Palm Beach, Florida, Liverpool, New York, and Fresno, California.

The truckers were using some smart talking points, pointing out not only concerns about the cost to truckers, whether they truly improve safety, and driver privacy, but also potential to impact the price of consumer goods.

Screenshot of broadcast from WLOX-TV
Screenshot of broadcast from WLOX-TV

It appears some of the scheduled protests were less successful than others, based on Facebook posts. In some locations, virtually no truckers showed up. In Albany, New York, and San Francisco, California, local TV stations never showed up for interviews as they had said they would.

But there were plenty of posts on Facebook and Twitter. Some of the tweets from this week’s efforts:

With the ELD mandate deadline of Dec. 18 only two weeks away and no sign that the government is going to delay the rule or exempt small truckers, some drivers are now talking about a shutdown. To truly have impact, though, that would take more than getting TV coverage of protests of a dozen truckers here and a dozen truckers there. I’ve seen numerous shutdowns planned in the 27 years I’ve been covering this business. Can the power of the hashtag make it happen?

Comments

  1. 1. Victor Gabris [ December 06, 2017 @ 05:15AM ]

    #ELDorMe, I'm all in favor of a national shutdown of DOT regulations, they're way out of touch with reality out here, but the fact of the matter is we will never get enough brotherhood involvement to make a difference because we are all too divided, rememberUNITED WE STAND AND DIVIDED WE FALL, but you can count me in, power to the truckers

  2. 2. Don Shantz [ December 06, 2017 @ 05:54AM ]

    Look north of the border to Canada we have a little more flexibility with hours of service than again the United States Of America is way to proud to look to Canada for a role model!!!! Canada allows 70 hours in 7 days a 30 minute break extends your 14 hour window by 30 minutes so if you take 4 30 minute breaks you have a 16 hour window now you only need 8 hours off to get all your hours back for the next day. also we are allowed 13 hours drive time or you can do 5 & 5 sleeper berth splits or 6 & 4 very simple! LOOK NORTH AMERICA!

  3. 3. Debbie major [ December 07, 2017 @ 12:21PM ]

    ELD has nothing to do with safety
    It is stilling our right to choose how we operate our small business and our money they have no right to force electronics on anyone

  4. 4. Richard [ December 09, 2017 @ 07:39AM ]

    How about we take all the idiots that make up these stupid useless laws and break there legs there arms and maybe there necks then maybe they will listen to reason. You know they work for us right? Well then when they open there big mouth just tell them there fired and that you or we have no need of there services anymore tell them to try to get on welfare because that's what there going to do to the small trucking company

 

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Author Bio

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Deborah Lockridge

Editor-in-Chief

All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.

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