A national truck parking survey has been launched by Hope Rivenburg that aims to collect data for the research mandate that was included in the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) highway bill.
If you are a truck driver I encourage you to take 15 minutes today to complete this survey, AND share it to other drivers that you know or come in contact with. If you are in operations, please share the link with your fleet. Share it on your Facebook page, twitter stream, email it, and help other drivers get access to the survey who would like to participate. You can always email me or Hope and we will email or text it back to you. Survey Link. ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com )
The collection of driver information is crucial to prepare an accurate assessment of the current state of truck parking from the end-users themselves.
Hope Rivenburg as you should recall is the widow of truck driver Jason Rivenburg who was murdered in 2009. Her husband had experienced parking issues and truck stop crime in the past. He decided to keep rolling to his destination in South Carolina to deliver milk.
The receiver of this milk would not provide parking for Jason or accept the delivery early. This is a common issue for truck drivers that contend with strict appointments and remote destinations where they are unwelcome to park for rest once loaded or unloaded regardless of their HOS restrictions.
Jason parked at an abandoned gas station and was shot for $7.00. His Wife Hope was pregnant with twins at the time; the couple already had a 2 year old son. That was four years ago and Hope Rivenburg has not stopped fighting for safe truck parking since, even though her husband is gone forever.
“Jason’s Law” was introduced by Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY) in April 2009 and under the persistence of Hope Rivenburg the bi-partisan bill made its way into the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) that funds surface transportation programs at over $105 billion for fiscal years 2013 and 2014. MAP-21 is the first long-term highway authorization enacted since 2005 , the issue of truck parking shortfalls have been researched for over a decade but recommendations that were made have not been widely adopted.
The 2000 National Transportation Research Board special investigation reported on the shortage of truck parking and recommendations were made to several states and organizations. Not only have some of these recommendations remained un-adopted, things have changed in the past 13 years. While some areas may have improved there are still many areas that have become worse. This is why current data is needed before projects are planned for the future. (Link: 2000 NTSB Special Investigation on Truck Parking Abstract )
As you know, truck parking in the daytime looks quite different by night. Truck drivers must contend with federally mandated “hours of service” (HOS) which often leaves drivers in areas that are unsafe to park or where none is available. Some of these areas may include high freight volume port cities and metropolitan areas that do not accommodate the volume of truck traffic necessary to conduct their business and this affects the truck driver’s safety.
Accurate identification of locations where safe truck parking is needed is something that truck drivers can help Hope Rivenburg with by collecting data to present for the research mandate in MAP-21. Hope has also created a truck parking focus group on Facebook where she collects daily check in and status reports from drivers. You must be permitted to this group by sending an email to Hope with your contact information firstname.lastname@example.org .
The REAL Women in Trucking group is assisting Hope Rivenburg and will be part of the presentation. The effort has been in collaboration with Allen and Donna Smith of the “AsktheTrucker” website , Andrew Warcaba and Associates, and Motor Carrier Safety and Compliance consultant Rich Wilson of TCRG Consulting.
Here are some of my observations about truck parking issues.
Much of the crime in truck stops is local crime, not trucker crime. If the location is within walking distance to a high crime neighborhood this activity is increased. The truckers serve America by making sure the store shelves are fully stocked and they do it on a “just in time” freight delivery system that has been created to downsize the need for warehousing of inventory. If it is true that these store shelves could go empty with no inventory to restock in just a few days and it is the truck drivers who are making certain that does not happen while maintaining their tight schedules, they deserve to have a place to rest and sleep without disturbance.
Since last year I have been following a Google alert on truck stop crime. What I have found through reading these daily reports on everything related to #TruckStops is that local communities are fighting to prevent new truck stops from being built, often because of the crime associated with them. But these communities often fail to see that the crime is homegrown and gravitates to the truck stop. These things can be managed much better with improved security, law enforcement and a realization that the truck drivers are there to serve the community, therefore they should be provided some peace, not protest.
We would not expect our armed service people to protect our country, our freedom and after a hard day of fighting our battles go sleep in an unprotected area where they are subjected to criminal acts would we?
Communities need to be educated that if they have distribution facilities in their area that supports the employment of locals, then some of what is produced there must be transported by trucks and these drivers deserve to have a safe place to park. The truckers should not be subjected to the local crime or blamed for it on such a broad scope.
It is true that the conduct of some drivers dumping trash has made all drivers unwelcome at some facilities. If these are company drivers, the carriers should be held accountable, the individuals should be accountable.
Identifying problem truck parking areas is something that only the truck drivers can do accurately. To sleep in fear is not a restful sleep, whether the disturbances are from foot traffic and potential crime or being forced to park unsafely on the shoulder of the highway where another rig may hit yours while you are trying to rest.
I hope you will make it a priority to take the truck parking survey and if you have the time, to participate in the daily truck parking focus group check in project on Facebook. (Email: email@example.com to join this private group.
As time permits, I will share the highlights and recommendations I have read from past truck parking research investigations which has helped form an outline on which states and organizations have taken action and which ones who have not.
Our mission is to continue the fight to insure safe parking for America’s Truck Drivers.