Drivers are facing a serious problem out here on the road.
On March 5, 2009 Jason Rivenburg was shot twice in the head and killed. He was a truck driver. He was parked at an abandoned gas station near Interstate 26 in South Carolina waiting to deliver his load, because the load's receiver wouldn't allow him to wait on their property.
On March 13, 2009 a driver was shot and injured in North Memphis when he stopped on an exit ramp to switch places with his co-driver. There are no truck stops or rest areas on that stretch of Interstate 240.
On February 22, 2008 truck driver Robert Earl Lee was fatally shot and robbed while trying to sleep in his truck. He had arrived early for his delivery in Tampa, FL and was told by the gate guard that he couldn't enter the property until 8:00 am. He had no choice but to park on the street. http://blogs.tampabay.com/breakingnews/2008/02/truck-driver-sh.html
On October 12, 1986 truck driver Robert Campbell was shot and robbed of $6 as he was taking his rest break at a rest area along Interstate 95. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A0DE4DF123AF931A25753C1A960948260
Drivers are forced to park along streets, on highway ramps, and in empty lots due to a shortage of safe parking. At the same time several states are closing down their rest areas – most notably Virginia, but Vermont, New Hampshire, Arizona and California all have plans to close rest areas that provide valuable parking space for tired truckers.
Truckstops are filled to capacity and overflowing, forcing drivers to waste time circling the lot hoping for a space, then drive on down the road while tired to find a place to park.
Many shippers and receivers won't allow drivers to arrive early for appointments and require them to leave immediately after delivering – even if they are out of hours and can't legally drive.
The federal government, through the Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFTEA-LU), provides $6.25 million for states to provide rest areas and safe parking for commercial vehicles. This drop in the bucket has to be shared out between all 50 states, and is woefully inadequate. To give you an idea of where truck driver safety rates on the federal priority scale – the 2009 Omnibus spending bill included $6.6 million dollars for termite research. Apparently we rate just behind bugs.
Jason Rivenburg's family is working to raise awareness of this issue and they have built a website and started a petition asking lawmakers to work to improve the parking situation for truckers. Please visit their site and sign the petition for Jason's Law: http://www.jhlrivenburg.com/
Please write to your representatives in your state and the federal government and ask them to increase the funding for safe rest areas and to pass laws providing for safe places for truck drivers to rest while we are taking the breaks that federal law requires us to take.