Truckers stage ‘slow roll’ protest; police block Chicago exits

MONEE, Ill. — About 30 truckers took place in a “slow roll” demonstration Friday from suburban Monee toward downtown Chicago to protest conditions for truck drivers.

The group was ultimately stopped from entering downtown as Chicago police officers blocked exits along the Dan Ryan Expy. The drivers had hoped to protest outside Trump Tower.

The caravan was part of a nationwide effort organized by a group called “Black Smoke Matters.” Similar protests occurred in New York, Michigan and California.

Chicago police said semi-trucks aren’t allowed in certain areas of downtown Chicago — including Michigan Avenue — and that trucks could’ve blocked access for ambulances, creating a public safety risk.

The truckers seek changes in federal regulations. They want more flexible driving hours, more training for new drivers and relaxed rules for electronic logging devices.

Federal regulations put in place in 2017 require truckers to use electronic logs to record their driving hours, and limit how long drivers can be on the road. They're not allowed to drive for more than 11 hours at a time, followed by 10 hours of rest.

“Before, on paper logs, you had the option of stopping and taking a couple-hour nap to go through when there’s less traffic,” one truck driver said. “… Less interaction with the motoring public makes it safer for everybody.”

The truckers said there aren't enough stops or safe places to pull over and rest.

“Guys are sleeping on ramps in the middle of driveways — all because of electronic log books,” Lori Franklin said. “Everybody’s clock is shut down at a certain time of day, and there's no place to park.”

The drivers said they feel like they don’t have representation in Washington, D.C., and that their pleas are falling on deaf ears.

“We'd have better luck beating our heads off this concrete wall,” one driver said. “They just completely ignore everything we say.”

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