In 2009 a trucker named Jason Rivenburg was killed as he tried to get rest at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina. He chose to park there because there were no other places for him to park his big-rig in the area. And this was not an isolated incident; Michael Boeglin and Truman Smith were also killed because they did not have safe places to park their trucks to get the rest they needed.
These incidents, and others, led a portion of the MAP-21 legislation passed in 2012 being named “Jason’s Law,” and mandated the DOT to conduct a study on trucking parking throughout the United States. That study was recently released, and has built a coalition on how to address the problem of trucking parking.
Overview of the Study
The study addresses two primary concerns with the state of trucking parking in the country. First, tired truck drivers may choose to continue driving in search of safe parking before taking needed rest, putting both drivers and the public at large in danger from overworked, fatigued drivers.
The second main concern is the problem that Jason encountered; that drivers will choose to stop and rest in a location that puts them at risk. When a truck is parked at an exit, abandoned gas station, or other unsecured location, they are sitting targets. The public knows that drivers only pull over in these areas to rest, so they can attack and assault them easily.
In addressing these two concerns the study looked at several aspects of truck parking in each state. They looked at:
- The demand for truck parking in each state;
- The amount of truck parking available (or supply);
- How safe each truck parking locale is; and
- What the industry needs are on a state-by-state basis.
Looking at each of these elements revealed some startling trends in the country. In their survey 37 State Departments of Transportation replied that their state has shortages of official parking, and that where there is official parking, it is consistently overcrowded.
Additionally the study reported a number of other parking problems facing the trucking industry, such as:
- Lack of public rest areas;
- Lack of private truck stops where truckers can get fuel and food;
- Shortage of parking in commercial areas;
- Trucks parking along interstate interchange ramps; and
- Parking on local streets.
In the end the study recommends that a broad coalition be built across state, federal, and private entities to ensure that safe and adequate parking become a priority. The study identifies and focuses on specific areas of improvement in areas where parking availability is worse, and it reiterates that any funds available from the MAP-21 legislation and Jason’s Law will be used to advance the goals the study identifies.
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