The lack of adequate, safe truck parking is a growing problem. States have been closing public rest areas to save money and truck stop parking is limited, leaving truckers to pull over on entrance and exit ramps and seek other alternatives when parking isn’t available. According to research by the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) the shortage of truck parking is forecasted to get worse as freight volumes are expected increase by as much as 25% by 2021.
The parking shortage will also get worse with new driver hours-of-service rules due to go into effect on July 1. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new HOS final rule reduces by 12 hours the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week. Under the old rule, truck drivers could work on average up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. The new HOS final rule limits a driver’s work week to 70 hours.
The rule requires also truck drivers who maximize their weekly work hours to take at least two nights’ rest from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. This rest requirement is part of the rule’s “34-hour restart” provision that allows drivers to restart the clock on their work week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. The final rule allows drivers to use the restart provision only once during a seven-day period.
By requiring drivers to park during the same time period twice a week, demand for truck parking spaces during the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. period is likely to become even more dear.
The lack of adequate truck parking isn’t just an inconvenience, it can be a danger to truck drivers.
Consider the case of Jason Rivenburg of Schoharie County, NY.
Jason wasn’t even supposed to be on that run on March 6, 2009. He picked up the load to help a friend with a small trucking company who was a driver down.
Jason had been a truck driver for 14 years. He was a good guy, a family man who adored his son Josh and was looking forward to the birth of his twins. He and Hope laughed a lot. His favorite color was blue and he was a sucker for chrome.
He had three stops in this trip, the first in Virginia the second in South Carolina, the last in North Carolina, then home. He never made it past the second stop.
Jason was ahead of schedule as he drove toward his delivery in South Carolina. He wasn’t allowed to arrive at the delivery site any earlier than an hour before the designated drop time, so he had to find a place to park overnight.
He parked at an abandoned gas station on I-26 near exit 136.
Wille Pelzer was hanging out at a convenience store across the highway, allegedly looking for someone to rob. He watched Jason pull in and park. He crossed over the highway and slid underneath Jason’s trailer, waiting for him to settle down to sleep.
At roughly 10:30 p.m., Pelzer shot Jason in the head, then he took the $7 in change from Jason’s dinner.
By the next morning, Hope Rivenburg, Jason’s wife, was frantic. She couldn’t reach him — his phone went straight to voice mail and he hadn’t delivered his load.
On March 7, a passing motorist called the police suspicious about the parked truck and they found Jason’s body. Hope got the news from the truck’s owner over the phone. On March 18th, she entered the hospital and gave birth to twins, Logan and Hekikah.
The senseless murder led Hope to push for a new bill, which would pave the way to additional safe and secure parking areas for the nation’s truckers. What is now known as “Jason’s Law,” was included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which was signed into law on July 6, 2012. The law is to allow funding to be provided for the states, which are in most need of truck parking areas.
When Truth About Trucking, LLC conducted a recent survey on drivers’ biggest concerns, truck driver wages came in at number one, while truck parking was still the second major concern among drivers.
The Department of Transportation is presently conducting a survey on the truck parking issue, and Hope says that the best source to provide data, input and feedback are the professional drivers; thus she continues her crusade for safe truck parking and is asking for help from drivers.
Hope is once again taking the initiative to ensure safe parking areas are presented for drivers by conducting a new focus study to be performed in two stages: (1) a survey conducted by professional drivers and (2) a two month study for an OTR Driver Focus Group.
The goal for this study is to collect data regarding the various aspects and causes of inadequate truck parking and then present it to government officials.
The study will need over-the-road drivers who are willing to help in the two-month study. Drivers who frequently run long-haul into Western and Eastern port areas including South Florida, the Northeast and West Coast, as well as all drivers who continually have difficulty finding parking are encouraged to participate.
Study participants will be needed for the following assistance:
– Take notes regarding their experiences attempting to find parking. Notes can be photos or videos of the specific parking facility, noting the day and time it was taken. Included in these notes can also be the security and safety of the parking area and can include a note regarding the shipper or receiver, if they allowed you to park on their facility or not;
– Take part in a once-a-week conference call;
– Be willing to have their name included as part of the presentation at the Truck Driver Convention and in correspondence with government officials.
Professional truck drivers interested in being a part of this two-month study may contact Hope Rivenburg directly via email at: [email protected]