If you drove by the National Mall in Washington D.C. recently, you might have noticed dozens of big rigs parked on the mall and a crowd of people gathered. Truckers recently gathered there for an event called Ten Four D.C. The annual event is meant to educate the public about trucking, build camaraderie among truckers and provide truckers with the opportunity to voice their concerns. This year, the Ten Four D.C. gathering included 43 trucks on the mall, live music, donation drives for charity and a driver appreciation barbeque. Trucker Tools had the pleasure of speaking with one of Ten Four D.C.’s founders, Brian Brase, about how the event got started and how it’s evolved over the last few years. 

How Ten Four D.C. Began

Four years ago, Brian and several other truckers organized and took part in protests in Washington D.C. against the impending ELD mandate. After multiple protests against the mandate and witnessing rivalries between different trucker groups, Brian and several other truckers got together and started Ten Four D.C. with the intent to create a place where truckers could gather peacefully and work together. In 2018, Ten Four D.C. was founded and awarded its first permit to hold an event on the National mall. 

“Back then, there were a lot of trucker advocacy groups popping up, protests and things like that going on because of the ELD mandate and a lot of things going on in the industry then that drivers were getting upset with,” said Brian. “I got involved with some of these protests and advocacy, but one thing that I noticed was that there were so many people who wouldn’t go to certain events because they weren’t in charge or they wouldn’t participate in something because they weren’t going to get the notoriety for it. We came up with the slogan ‘It’s not about me, it’s not about you, it’s about us.’  

We not me. We wanted to try to build something that would bring people back together.”

Trucker Appreciation, Educating the Public, Feeding the Community and Showcasing Trucks on the Mall

According to Brian, today Ten Four D.C. is focused on trucker appreciation and engaging with the public about trucking. Each year around Oct. 4, Brian and other truckers from around the country gather at the Fredericksburg, Va., fairgrounds and convoy into Washington D.C. to the National Mall to showcase their rigs, talk to the public, share their pride in what they do and voice their concerns about what’s happening in trucking. 

“We use that opportunity to get kids get in the truck to honk the horn and show parents the blind spot on the truck,” Brian said. “We talk about driving their cars around us and how to be safe around trucks. On top of that, we are bringing these drivers together by feeding them. Food always brings people together, so we have breakfast and lunch on the National Mall. It’s developed into a giant public service announcement on the National Mall, and it’s on the mall because it gets a ton of attention. It’s an amazing photo opportunity with trucks sitting there on the mall in downtown D.C. It’s very unique. Then, of course, when it’s all over, we do a big old barbeque. This year, Trucker Tools sponsored the barbeque, which is just amazing.”

“We use that opportunity to get kids get in the truck to honk the horn and show parents the blind spot on the truck,” Brian said. “We talk about driving their cars around us and how to be safe around trucks. On top of that, we are bringing these drivers together by feeding them. Food always brings people together, so we have breakfast and lunch on the National Mall. It’s developed into a giant public service announcement on the National Mall, and it’s on the mall because it gets a ton of attention. It’s an amazing photo opportunity with trucks sitting there on the mall in downtown D.C. It’s very unique. Then, of course, when it’s all over, we do a big old barbeque. This year, Trucker Tools sponsored the barbeque, which is just amazing.”

During the trucker appreciation barbeque, there’s live music, awards are given and two auctions are held — one to pay for the event and one to benefit charity. Ten Four D.C. also does a massive food drive for the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank as part of the gathering. At this year’s event, Ten Four D.C. collected approximately 23,000 pounds of food donations for the food bank and $10,000 in donations for non-profits Truckers’ Final Mile and History Flight.

FMCSA Listening Sessions and Strengthening Bonds Among Truckers

Though Ten Four D.C. no longer participates in trucker protests, the group does encourage drivers to share their opinions and voice their concerns with the FMCSA and with their Congressional representatives. Before the ELD mandate was instituted, Brian and other folks in the group encouraged drivers to submit their comments about the ELD mandate to the FMCSA during its open comment period. 

“So many people were against the ELD mandate, but only something like 3,000 drivers left comments on the FMCSA’s register when they put it up for the notice of rulemaking,” explained Brian. “Every single regulation that the FMCSA puts out first goes through this process where drivers can leave comments. If they get enough comments saying against something, then it doesn’t go through. We teach drivers a lot of things down there on the mall. The first year we taught them how to do an official comment on the register. One thing that continues every year is that the FMCSA comes down and does an impromptu listening session with the drivers and companies that show up. It’s usually the director of the FMCSA who comes down, so it’s pretty awesome. We still encourage truckers to set up meetings on Capitol Hill with their legislators or their aides and go talk to them. We’re not telling them what to say, we’re just providing this opportunity for them.” 

“So many people were against the ELD mandate, but only something like 3,000 drivers left comments on the FMCSA’s register when they put it up for the notice of rulemaking,” explained Brian. “Every single regulation that the FMCSA puts out first goes through this process where drivers can leave comments. If they get enough comments saying against something, then it doesn’t go through. We teach drivers a lot of things down there on the mall. The first year we taught them how to do an official comment on the register. One thing that continues every year is that the FMCSA comes down and does an impromptu listening session with the drivers and companies that show up. It’s usually the director of the FMCSA who comes down, so it’s pretty awesome. We still encourage truckers to set up meetings on Capitol Hill with their legislators or their aides and go talk to them. We’re not telling them what to say, we’re just providing this opportunity for them.” 

According to Brian, a lot of what Ten Four D.C. aims to do is to help truckers look out for one another. Those who attend the annual gathering encourage one another to help each other out in an effort to build a stronger sense of brother/sisterhood within trucking. Brian told us that one of the things he loves about Ten Four D.C. is that most people who attend the annual event usually end up staying in touch with each other throughout the year. 

“We’ve had truckers break down on I-81 in Virginia and somebody that they met at Ten Four D.C. came and helped them out — and these are people that met through Ten Four,” Brian said. “What we’re trying to create now is appreciation for the truck driver and letting them know we care. We want to connect truckers with companies that generally care about truckers. Ten Four allows those companies to show that they really care for the driver and it’s allowing drivers to develop that camaraderie, care about one another and help them when they’re down. That’s probably the greatest single part about Ten Four right there. Everything we do is about trying to live by that model of ‘It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about us as a whole.’”

To learn more about Ten Four D.C., visit https://tenfourdc.com

For more of our conversation with Brian, read Owner Operator Brian Brase Talks Tour Hauling, HOS Waivers and Managing Stress on the Road. To download the Trucker Tools driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/carriers/