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ooida-with-hopeThis 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.

lisa-joyce-and-meDo 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. atri-gal-with-joyce-and-iThe 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 thsleeping-truckat 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:

  1. Use this link created by Allen Smith to the MPO Interactive Map to locate your State MPO contact information.
  2. 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.
  3. 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”.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. If possible, get involved in State and MPO area freight advisory committees.
  7. 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.

FHWA DOT Jason’s Law

USDOT “Jason’s Law” Survey Reaffirms Nationwide Truck Parking Needs

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,

Desiree Wood

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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: hope.rivenburg@gmail.com or truckerdesiree@gmail.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. (more…)

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Women in Trucking

 

Where has the Non-Profit Organization, “Women in Trucking” been in all of this?  Well, that will be my next cronicle if I can ever finish my student trucker story.  I joined “Women in Trucking” as soon as I had chance to get to a computer in 2008. I was under the impression that the Mission Statement on the front page of the website was accurate.

I observed the climate for a period of time before I ever posted. It most certainly did not seem very friendly but the immediate positive response from other truckers on Allen Smith’s “Ask the Trucker” who were both male and female persuaded me to reach out to Char Pingel and tell her about what had been happening to me AFTER I went through the chain of command and into the arms of the HR Lady in my story.

Char told me to post on the “Women in Trucking” forum and I did. I started a thread called “My NEW experience might help you.

This thread has the most reads of any thread on the WIT Forum which at last count was over 3000! From day 1 I was attacked publically on the WIT forum by Sandy Long aka Lady Godiva . In a series of private emails I was further dismissed and basically told that they run people off like me who want to publically discuss what I was seeing with my own two eyes happen to Women who were entering the trucking industry for the first time.

Remember, I entered as a single Woman, not with a Husband or Boyfriend. I do not come from a trucking family. I was totally reliant on my CDL School Training, My Company Support System and My Trainer to provide me the tools to be successful. So far, none of them had come through for me but I wasn’t going to quit.

I first called Char Pingel and told her that a public cat fight is detrimental to ALL Women and she agreed but nothing was done. Later, I began emailing Ellen Voie about the fact that her forum seemed to be commandeered by Lady Godiva who actually has shown time and again that she does not like other Women. I was called names that were meant to label me and be derogatory but all the names were in fact, all different types of Women!  It made me wonder, “What kind of Women are allowed to be supported in “Women in Trucking”?

After many calls and emails to Ellen Voie and watching her tweet about getting her CDL but never actually operating a Big Rig herself, I saw that she had an aversion to the hard questions that are of the upmost importance for new females entering trucking. Is she an Advocate? or a Carpetbagger?

Here are a sampling of screen shots made from Ellen’s Twitter tag  @WomeninTrucking (Caution: Ellen Deletes stuff after I publish it but I have the screen shots on my hard drive) *** Note: These are in reverse order as they are Twitter Stream Tweets

WomenInTrucking

89. I am traveling out west with my boyfriend, and I am
so happy that I can handle a 38 foot 5th wheel trailer!
3:33 PM Jan 22nd from web
     
90. The Trucker ran a story about my getting my CDL
http://www.thetrucker.com 9:55 AM Jan 18th from web
     
91. I did not have to take a written or practical test to
transfer my Ohio CDL to Wisconsin. 4:25 PM Jan
15th from web
     
92. I completed the driving test in Ohio, then came back
to Wisconsin and transferred my license. I am now a
CLD holder! 4:24 PM Jan 15th from web
     
93. I passed!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I got my CDL today. 8:22 AM Jan
9th from txt
     
94. This week I will be returning to Canton Ohio to take
my driving test over. I’m scheduled for 8 am
Thursday. Wish me luck! 2:42 PM Jan 6th from web
     
95. I made a left turn and the light down the road turned
green in my turn, so he claims that I made them slow
down. Darn! I’ll be back! 9:49 AM Dec 22nd, 2008
from web

96. So, the bad news is that the examiner did not pass me
on the driving test. He said that I impeded traffic. 9:48
AM Dec 22nd, 2008 from web
     
97. I took my CDL test on Saturday. I passed the pre-trip
with an 89 out of 90. I passed the skills test also
(parallel parking was not fun!) 9:47 AM Dec 22nd,
2008 from web
     
98. Today is the day. I am up early, after spending the
night in Canton. My test is at 8 am. Next time I log in
I hope to have my CDL! 4:08 AM Dec 20th, 2008
from web
     
99. This afternoon I was able to get my last hour of
driving time in to complete my 10 hours of driving. It
was slushy outside. 5:20 PM Dec 19th, 2008 from web
     
100. The freezing rain caused us to stay in the classroom
all morning. We watched videos and practiced our
pretrip inspection by memory. 10:26 AM Dec 19th,

I spent my own meager salary on two occasions to attend trucking conventions to meet Ellen Voie in person to see for myself. Is she only trying to collect a paycheck from a non-profit organization off the backs of Real Women Truckers or what?

On a number of occasions she had told me that “WE” cannot say anything disparaging about certain companies because “they might be our sponsers”. That’s pretty sick when you consider that CRST is one of them.

When time permits I will chronicle all the emails, all the bullying, all reasons that the idea of a Women’s Trucking Organization is wonderful but in order to be responsible it is imperative to be clear that you WILL NOT help those entering Trucking if they get raped, beaten or harrassed. It is esspecially important because of the frequent radio appearences made by Ellen Voie that encourage Women to use her book as a guide to help them through CDL Training.

That is not radical feminism, it just being clear that you represent the industry, not the Women who drive the actual Truck.

Allen Smith did two shows on the topic of “Bullying in the Workplace” both of those links for the archived shows are in my FAQ section. The topic was in part inspired by the CRST Sexual Harrassment Case which was occuring at the same time the situation on the WIT forum was going on. Remarks putting down other Women and making Judgements on Women were frequent. One particular thread commented on was about how a crocheted valance had been seen on a big rig and this was looked down upon, as that female was just advertising her presence. This was sort of funny because at the same time a female crocheting trucker on Twitter seemed like she could handle herself pretty well if someone came to give her any shit about her hobby.

I delibrately persisted on the WIT forum. I wanted to see for myself and for the other Women who had been contacting me what sort of support WIT truly could offer to overcome obstacles in their trucking carreer. 

Ellen Voie was invited to participate in these radio programs. She even had us rearrange the schedule to accomadate her schedule, which we did. Unfortunately, she later declined citing her lawyer advised her against it, but she would love to do a follow-up show.

In Las Vegas, the general consensus from Women Truckers I met is that Ellen Voie is not doing anything for Women Truckers.  She did manage to land a reality TV Producer though, but that’s actually not too hard if you have ever been to Vegas or anywhere in California. You just have to be willing to make an ass of yourself on TV. Selling the idea of Women Truckers very easy but the image Ellen & the ATA are trying to sell the general public may not be helping Real Women Truckers at all.

In Dallas, Ellen Voie took credit for something she had absolutely nothing to do with and in fact wanted no part in asking for a company to address the subject matter. I had seen her do this with articles as well. I was beginning to get the picture.

As I get time I will chronicle all of this because what she is doing is actually detrimental to Women. There is a problem in the trucking industry for female students and Ellen is recruting them with her book and radio appearences, therefore she needs to clarify to these women that should they be harmed, she is not the person to go to.

Please watch this Video Clip in Ellen’s own words for and upcoming documentry on Bullying in the Workplace by filmaker Beverly Peterson.

Like I told Ellen Voie in a recent email, “I support Women in Trucking but I do not Support a Women who has never driven a truck making money off the backs of those who do, there in a name for that you know!”

Also, I am including this post I made about the CRST Sexual Harrassment Case which is Ellen Voie’s Sponser. It is from this post I came to know Tracey Tuttle-Hamm and “OKCSafety” who is “Tom” in the Dan Rather Segment called “Queen of the Road”  read it HERE

 

 

 

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Dan Rather Interview - "Queen of the Road"

Dan Rather Interview - "Queen of the Road"

Big Week Y’all

Yes, I was interviewed by Dan Rather and as it turns out this is not the first time he has covered the American Trucker.

The episode called “Queen of the Road” , was so popular that the Dan Rather Producers made the video FREE which is HUGE for us poor peons who have trouble getting online in the first place. It is also available for purchase on DVD or download on itunes for $1.99, it took a long time to download so I’m glad about the free link. Watch it now :

“Dan Rather Report – \”Queen of the Road\”

Despite a fleet message telling our drivers to NOT talk to media, I know some were eager to find an outlet to share their story.
Here is an email for the Dan Rather Report to share your CDL School Story and/or Training Company Story to the Dan Rather Report viewer@HD.net

A follow up show is planned so please take this opportunity to share your experience.

Most of the feedback has been positive but I have had some haters, the usual suspects of course. One guy from my company who has worked there 8 years showed how he practices his “Commitment to CARE” by calling me some names that Allen & Donna Smith at “Ask the Trucker” did not feel comfortable posting on their site.

Here is a link to the post on “Ask the Trucker” about “Queen of the Road” with comments section. Remember that not even a smidgen of my Student Trucker Story was told on this show because of the time constraints, so before the speculators start speculating you have lots of research to do before you make commentary. Remember, I scattered around the internet to create a puzzle. ( for social media experiment)

I have been busy responding to comments and emails in the last couple days but one of my comments has not been published. It is one that I made  regarding the following article about the ATA response.

In this article on TheTrucker.com I did not have a place to make a comment but it did provide an email to the editor so I wrote the following:

“Subj: Want my comment?
Date: Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:43 pm

To: editor@thetrucker.com

All interviews were cut down for time constraints and many more drivers were interviewed.
As I stated in the HDNet Blog and on the “Ask the Trucker” post, all original
uninvestigated statements I was ASKED to write by my company plus photos, police
report and emails were provided to Dan Rather Report.

I even called the Head of Security of the location where the bleach incident occurred
to ask if anyone from my company has EVER contacted him about my co-driver who threw
bleach on me and was highly intoxicated and took possession of the high dollar freight
that night on I-40 has ever contacted him, he said NO, never has anyone tried to
investigate why an intoxicated driver drove their truck with high security freight
after having several long island ice teas.

That is but ONE complaint in a 9 month training fiasco which is NOT uncommon from
the standpoint of us minions down here behind the wheel.

Thanks,
Desiree”

That’s what I wrote but I have not seen it published anywhere.

The ATA response does prompt some questions , I have copied and pasted a paragraph here:

“The open road has always lured its share of dreamers, and with the trucking industry’s chronic driver shortage, it was an easy match for Desiree Wood,” Rather said, apparently without noting that the industry doesn’t have a driver shortage now and that, in fact, it’s lost almost 200,000 jobs in the past three years.”

It seems that the ATA is upset that Dan Rather did not say that there is NO DRIVER SHORTAGE. This is something Allen Smith has been saying in “Truth about Trucking” for a very longtime.

I know at my company we still get many students each week and so does CRST , so what is happening to the experienced ones?

Also, why don’t the tell the CDL Schools there is no driver shortage and to stop giving loans to people for a job that does not exist?

A good deal of people who have paid to go to truck driving school cannot get a job right now as a truck driver but they still have a loan payment for CDL School, is that fair?

The story is about the “Student Trucker Industry” which includes, selling loans to people under false pretenses, using people to work for less than minimum wage with a promise of a long term career in the trucking industry.

There was a lot cut out from this broadcast and other people did interview and corroborate, I’m pretty confident the ATA, my Company and CRST do not want to hear from those who ended up on the cutting room floor.

One really funny coincidence is that one of the characters in my story was at my CDL School when this camera crew was there, that was not planned. He was in a brand new truck in Miami!

I wonder what he was doing???? recruiting maybe??? Hmmm….. Interesting fer sure.

Anyways, looks like there is going to be a followup show , so KOOL! Right On!

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