Katara Simmons/News-Sun Shawn McConniel (from left), Brandi McConniel and Almeda Bariteau will join what they hope are thousands of fellow truckers this weekend to protest on Washington during the Truckers Ride for the Constitution. The local drivers, employed by Robert Brack Trucking, will protest low wages, too much regulation and high fuel costs.
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published: Friday, October 11, 2013
Local truckers roll to Washington to join effort
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING -- Truck driver Shawn McConniel says he's tired of too much government regulation of the trucking industry and high fuel costs, which is why he and six of his truck drivers are joining thousands of truckers at Capital Hill this weekend to be a part of the Truckers Ride for the Constitution.
The three-day protest will begin today when tens of thousands of America's truckers are planing to descend on Washington to take a stance against the nation's policies on top of a list of the truckers' own woes and frustrations.
McConniel is eager to join his fellow truckers on what has been dubbed the Truckers Ride for the Constitution.
"The government has been regulating the trucking industry so much that it's hard for independents to make a living," McConniel said. "The regulations and all the rules on top of the fuel costs, it's just getting ridiculous."
The owner and operator of Robert Brack Trucking has been in business for 15 years and has watched government change the way the trucking industry is being run. On July 1, the government implemented the newest set of regulations for truckers, which has McConniel and other truckers feeling frustrated and overpowered.
McConniel and other truckers are unhappy with rules such as no driving between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. more than twice a week and a Federal Motor Carrier Administration rule that says a driver may not drive after 60 hours on duty in a seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period without taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty, which must include two periods from 1-5 a.m. and may only be used once per week, or 168 hours, measured from the beginning of the previous restart.
McConniel, and his drivers, find the regulations restraining.
"I like driving early in the mornings. It's safer, there is less traffic on the road. The reset hours is ... nearly impossible. There's so much stuff that goes into getting loads dropped off," McConniel said.
Drivers feel the only way to voice their needs and to take a stance against the government is to ride into Washington and make their presence known.
"They (congressmen) really don't understand. If we stop rolling, you guys are out of a job. I'm tired of career politicians," McConniel said. "Everything in this country depends on us. On these truck drivers and us running these trucks."
McConniel -- along with his drivers Almedia Bariteau, Terry Collins, Scott Hauck, Jack Dillion and Debbie Fralish -- will join the thousands of other drivers and head to Washington today.
Fuel costs, regulation and wages are just a few of the items truckers will be protesting on Capitol Hill.
"I don't know of anyone else local in the area who is doing this ride, but we are. Our parent company, 5 Daughters Trucking, has drivers going up there too," McConniel said.
The "The Truckers to Shutdown America" Facebook page accumulated over 86,000 likes in a matter of days before the page was removed by the social media site, proof that the disgruntled American population is not only paying attention and supporting one another, but rapidly growing.
A second page, "Truckers Ride for the Constitution," has gained over 118,000 likes the past several days.
Comments on the Facebook page show support and offer prayers as well as some unkind words about the federal government.
Alexandra Odom, a Nebraska resident, posted this message Wednesday evening: "The vibe that comes from this group and event makes me want to get into my car and join you guys... I wish you all the best, stay as safe as you can and god bless you!"
Other Facebook group members offered rides to disabled veterans wishing to join in the protest.
A post put up by Michael Benghazi Malinconico just after 10 a.m. Thursday morning claimed that the government and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have made plans to block I-495, better known as the Capital Beltway.
Some reports say the protest will entail truckers clogging traffic on the Beltway by driving 55 mph as they circle Washington.
A route map on the group's Facebook page shows that trucks will be directed to the Inner Loop of the Beltway and other participants in cars or motorcycles directed to the Outer Loop, according to the Washington Times.
Maryland and Virginia state police have reportedly said they will not interfere with the protest as long as it is peaceful and doesn't create a safety issue on the roads.
It's unclear how many truckers plan to take part in the protest, which some have said will be a dud due to it being held on a weekend.
truckers onto Washington (by: The "Blacksmiths" Mrs - 10/13/2013)
I wish Mr. Billy was still alive, I could bet there would be a "Bull Wagon" on that trip with a little more "BS" to drop off in Washington to add to what is already there. George, Thomas and the rest of the signers of the Declaration are probably rolling in their graves in disgust. Be safe guys and gals and keep it between the lines.
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