This was a significant moment! To arrive with Hope Rivenburg (Jason’s Law) at the OOIDA Headquarters for the final of four regional truck parking coalition meetings held on October 5, 2016.
If you have followed this blog and my social media activity over the past 8 years you will know just how many twists and turns my journey into the trucking industry has taken. Truck parking came to my attention through twitter when an article about a murdered truck driver named Jason Rivenburg was shared with me by a friend I met through social media that had a small Virginia newspaper.
Shortly afterwards I came to know Hope Rivenburg and felt blessed that I could help share news of her campaign to create a safe truck parking bill named after her Husband Jason.
Over the years watching this movement transition from a heartbroken family gathering petition signatures at their local country fair to the day Hope texted me during her first trip to Washington D.C. saying she wished she wore flat shoes because it was “…much bigger than she thought it was…“, I have been inspired.
One person CAN make a difference! Hope Rivenburg is proof of that.
The series of truck parking coalition meetings brought together people who would normally not sit at the same table and have a conversation. I found that there were vast differences in the beginning in understanding terminology between the groups but I felt optimistic following each meeting that most of the people in attendance wanted to identify ways to solve the problem of truck parking shortages.
I say “most” since there were some stakeholders that were absent and should have been represented in these meetings such as the shippers and receivers who dictate strict schedules, representatives from the freight brokerage sector and the trucking carriers of large fleets where drivers have very little experience in locating truck parking outside of their designated fuel stop locations.
Do you know that there were only two individuals (2) that attended all four (4) meetings for truck parking? I was one (1) of those people. The other person was Mr. Carl Rundell from “Truck Smart Parking Services“.
Regardless of the absence of some of the major stakeholders, I was pleased to meet several representatives from the National Association of Truck Stop Owners (NATSO) and be able to better understand where they are coming from with their arguments and statements about truck drivers and trip planning. It was clear that there has been a lack of communication to partner industries in the supply chain when it comes to the needs of the individuals that serve this country each and every day in their work as truck drivers.
Joyce Hibma, the Wife of a truck driver has become an instrumental voice for drivers in the North Bend, Washington truck parking battle. She attended the Salt Lake City coalition with me as a REAL Women in Trucking Mission Support Member. This is a woman who herself is on a mission and she is to be commended for her hard work on behalf of drivers. In Salt Lake City, Joyce and I met Lisa Mullings from NATSO and Caroline Boris Research Analyst from ATRI ( American Transportation Research Institute ).
At the Maryland and Dallas Meetings, Idella Hansen RWIT Treasurer and Pat Hockaday from “Truckers United” attended the coalition meetings which helped place more drivers in the room in order to give real life perspective to solutions.
Lisa Mullings CEO of NATSO remarked during the final meeting at OOIDA Headquarters “Where are the carriers in this conversation? They call themselves “Logistics” companies and they are dictating fuel stops and highway routing in the bigger carriers, Why aren’t they helping their own drivers with parking?”
It is a great question and observation since these issues will get worse when mandated ELD’s come to fruition. The truth is that the inexperienced driver population is more likely to park on highway ramps because they are being run to the minute with their e-logs and many of these drivers do not have knowledge on truck parking outside their fuel routing.
Another issue that emerged was trucking fleets that only fuel at one chain that notoriously does not construct enough truck parking for the area in need which then in turn pushes off overflow to other chains who do not benefit from fuel sales. Pilot Travel, specifically, the “fuel your truck and get out” chain vs. Travel Centers of America, a chain that generally has a larger area to park but not so much a place fleet drivers are authorized to fuel at their locations. What are the reasons for this? Only major carriers can answer this question and drivers can only speculate. This is why carriers should have been part of these discussions.
The truck parking shortage is a problem that still has obstacles and that is where YOU, the reader comes in. In a post I published on the REAL Women in Trucking blog called “How to Take Action on a Local Level for Truck Parking” I’ve explained seven (7) simple steps each one of us can do to help advance this issue and keep the momentum going.
Essentially, we are in a place where despite all of the great ideas that emerged from the four regional truck parking coalition meetings there remains an obstacle. Communities that protest new truck parking that have not been sold on how safe truck parking serves them.
Here is what you need to know and how you can help work toward educating your state freight planners. Currently, All of the states have been tasked by the Federal government to do something they have never been required to do in the past, that is to create a freight plan. States must have an approved freight plan and freight network in place by December 2017 in order to continue to use their freight formula funds that were made available in FAST Act. See Link: The FAST Act: The Freight Provisions
Truck parking is an eligible activity for FAST Act funds but it is not required. Truck parking is often overlooked as a necessary component to intelligent freight planning. Smart freight plans should be focused on alleviating highway congestion and part of that would be assisting truck drivers who must comply with federal hours of service requirements to prevent unsafe operation of a commercial motor vehicle.
- Truck parking facilitates interstate commerce which must not be impeded by states and local governments
- Truck parking improves highway safety
Hope Rivenburg has worked tirelessly to make sure that “Jason’s Law” for Safe Truck Parking, an initiative named after her murdered Husband would be recognized by the Federal government as a matter of safety. Hope took immediate and relentless personal initiative to take action for truck drivers.
Hope Rivenburg proved that one person CAN make a difference and she got the ball rolling but now the ball is our court.
Truck drivers must keep this issue relevant and they can do that by helping to write emails and making phone calls to educate state agencies that are not aware that truck parking is an eligible activity for FAST Act funds.
This is a call to action
Here are the steps to follow:
- Use this link created by Allen Smith to the MPO Interactive Map to locate your State MPO contact information.
- Use the SAMPLE LETTER located on the MPO Interactive Map Link as a guide by using “cut and paste” and then revise the letter for your particular region and situation. You can use this link to download a PDF of the SAMPLE LETTER TO STATE AGENCIES. ( This letter is only a sample, it is not to be used verbatim, please personalize it to your situation.
- Send a letter, email it or make phone calls to the state agencies you have selected from the MPO Interactive Map to explain the pertinent information in a respectful manner that includes asking if “truck parking is in the freight plan” and if they are aware that “truck parking is an eligible activity for FAST Act funds and it is necessary in their region”.
- Identify to these agency heads in your letter or phone call that the funds “can be used on eligible projects until December 2017. After that, they can only use them if they have their freight plan in place”. (Remember that eligible activities include truck parking and ITS type systems for information sharing and notifications).
- You can also help by calling State Motor Carrier Associations to make sure they understand that truck parking is an eligible project and asking them if they know “What’s in the freight plan?” for that State. The goal is to make certain that the agency representative comes away from the conversation with awareness that truck parking is needed and eligible for funds for their state.
- If possible, get involved in State and MPO area freight advisory committees.
- Ask the State agencies that you contact: “What have you done to improve on Jason’s Law data since the report was published”?
If they have not heard of “Jason’s Law” ask them for their email to share with them the following links.
Final Advice: Persist with your state by asking the question: “What is in your freight plan?” be tenacious but polite about getting answers.
REMEMBER! There are only 50 States, If you commit to writing at least 2 MPO’s from the interactive map we can make a difference. Stop waiting for everyone else to make a difference for YOU!
Listen to the Replay> Solutions to Improve Truck Parking with Host Allen Smith and Guests Nicole Katsikides Deputy Director of Maryland Department of Transportation Office of Planning and Preliminary Engineering and Desiree Wood President REAL Women in Trucking, Inc.
Much Thanks to Nicole Katsikides for help in drafting this call to action for truck drivers!
with much gratitude,