Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Speaking up for safety


What would you do if someone called you on a Thursday and asked you to testify before a Senate subcommittee the next Tuesday? What if it was about something important, something close to your heart? What if the things that needed to be said wouldn’t be heard unless you went?

These people, and thousands more like them, are important.

Then of course you’d gather up your courage and go! So I did,

Time to go to work.

Yesterday, coincidentally on my dad’s 91st birthday, I testified before the Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety about the State of Trucking. I wasn’t alone, there was also representation from the American Trucking Association, The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers, the Livestock Marketing Association, and the State Police Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

The other guys. And me.

If you’ve ever watched a Senate hearing on TV you’ll know what it was like.

The Senators all sit elevated with big chairs. The witnesses sit together at a long table down below in front of microphones that have little clocks in them to time how long you’re speaking. And you have to remember to turn your microphone on before you begin. And especially to turn it off after you’re finished with what you want them to hear.

They ask questions from an elevated advantage.

It was an honor to be asked, but of course I was nervous. Still, the Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition wrote the first draft of my comments, and I edited it using words that I could get my mouth around. Then another board member helped me shave the speech down to five minutes and punch it up to gain attention.

The Hart Senate Office Building, where the hearing took place.

I practiced saying it out loud for hours on Monday, in front of my husband, the Executive Director and the board member. That helped a lot. And of course early Tuesday morning, while my husband was in the shower I spoke it aloud a couple times too.

A true statement.

Tuesday we arrived at the Senate Office Building early, to meet with one of my Senators who was going to introduce me at the hearing. Senator Peters is very supportive of safety technology and spoke eloquently about my work. I was the only witness to get an introduction like that and I appreciate him so much.

Meeting with Senator Peters before the hearing.

I got to speak first at the hearing, which was helpful, not to have to wait and listen to the other four speak. Though maybe I would have adjusted my talk to object to some of what they said if I had heard them first. But I doubt it. My oral testimony already countered most items they were asking for.

I think I was disagreeing with something.

Turns out teen drivers and allowing cattle haulers exemptions from the hours of service rules were the big topics, and of course I oppose both of those. But the Senators that agree with these ideas didn’t really want to hear opposition, so only one question was directed at me, and I was hard pressed to get any other thoughts in without them throwing me a question.

Sometimes it’s hard to get people to focus on what’s important.

A hearing is not a debate, you’re not allowed to interrupt other speakers, though one Senator, thankfully, did ask, at the end of her questioning if any of us had anything else to add, and of course I did. And toward the end I did just butt in on the last Senator and make a point disagreeing with the ATA representative about teen drivers, and thankfully was then backed up by the Independent Operators representative because they don’t want teen drivers either.

And that’s how the hearing ended, so I guess we got the last word, at least on one topic.

I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to speak up for safety. I wasn’t heard on as many topics as I was prepared for because many Senators on our side of safety didn’t bother to attend. And that’s a shame. There can’t be a complete discussion unless both sides come to the table. I may not be speaking at the next hearing, but I’ll be on the phone urging the subcommittee members to show up that’s for sure.

In order to make meaningful change everybody has to work together.

And that’s the lesson I leave you with. If you care deeply about a topic, any topic, and you have an opportunity to share that passion, don’t be afraid. Do the thing that scares you, make sure you’re heard.

Change is hard, sometimes it’s scary, but it’s always worth the effort.

I got lots of support from my husband too.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

29 thoughts on “Speaking up for safety

  1. Well done Dawn! Very impressed 🙂


  2. Good for you! That must have been scary, but ever so important.


    • Yes it was scary, but I was prepared so that made me feel a little better. And the best advice was that I didn’t have to actually answer the question I was given. So I had a statement ready for every issue, and if they asked me a question about the issue I was good, no matter the specifics.


  3. Great post and I thank you for sharing as I think it would be scary. I think if I could attend first that would help. Sounds like you did great! 😃


  4. Proud of your passion and bravery! Thank you!


  5. Good job! I’d be petrified. Maybe you’ll help open some minds.


  6. That was truly awesome….I can not even imagine being brave enough to do that.


  7. A Senate Subcommittee is a very big stage. Good for speaking on that stage


  8. Amazing job, you!! I’m so proud of you for taking your message to the ones who can (and should) do something about it. When good people with valid points fail to step forward, nothing can be changed. I just know your dad was smiling down on you on his birthday!


  9. Congratulations, Dawn! I greatly admire your courage and your determination to make a difference. Your closing advice is very wise.


  10. Proud of you, Dawn. I work in Risk Management and that is our every day motto: Safety is no accident.


  11. Well done! And you got some great photos too.


  12. Dear Prez, So proud of you. Kicking butts all over DC. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to go against the establishment and all its titans who care more about reelection, money and lobby groups. YOU are a force to be reckoned with.


  13. As we would say in Maine, wowsah! Well done, you. On another subject, I’ve signed up to follow your blog, but somehow I’m not getting notices in my email. I hate it when that happens. I will have to check in from time to time.


  14. Congratulations – well done. Having truckers in my family, your goals for safety mean a lot to me. I can’t imagine a world without truckers moving products for us, we do need to keep them and all other vehicles on the road safe. The other drivers who text or cut off truckers need to be reminded/reprimanded for their carelessness too. PS – I love the red shirt, that was a lovely choice in outfits for the presentation too! 😉


    • Thank you Shelley. Part of my comments were the 885 large truck occupants that were killed in 2018 (the latest year we have numbers for). We remind truckers regularly that we’re fighting for them too. And yes part of our job is also to educate the car drivers. Thank you for stopping by!


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