It is a potential law to address the ongoing and escalating problems with truck driver safety and security. In the last month we have been doing a great deal of research into the problems of trucker safety. The following is a list of current problems, suggested solutions, and side benefits if these solutions were to be adopted.
1) On time supply is a common business practice used by most large corporations today. It lowers operating expenses because inventories are reduced. This business model can only be successful if goods can be shipped and delivered exactly when they are needed; therefore, most pick-ups and deliveries are made by appointment. However, virtually all shippers and receivers will only allow common carriers into their facilities long enough to load or unload. Truck drivers, on the other hand, must allow for circumstances such as traffic, equipment failure, weigh stations, and delays being loaded or unloaded that may delay them. Often they reach their destination early. Because they are not allowed into the facility until the appointed hour, they must find somewhere to “stage.” (This is exactly what Jason was doing when he was shot.) We have also heard many stories about drivers being “put out” of facilities (often by the police) when they have exceeded their hours of service and can no longer legally drive.
If shippers and receivers were required to let drivers stage inside their facilities up to twelve hours before and/or after their appointment in order for them to drive legally, this would not only give drivers a safe harbor, but it could take a percentage of the trucks out of the rush hour traffic and off secondary streets. Many companies do this for their own drivers.
2) For businesses that lack the required space or facilities for these drivers, the “bull pen” concept can be applied. An area off the highway but close to an industrial or warehouse area that is secure and has basic
3) Rest areas seem to be where most of the focus currently rests. We have included California’s Safety Roadside Rest Area System Master Plan. It is, as far as we can tell, the most comprehensive plan in the country.
The simple truth is rest areas safe lives. The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) estimates that:
· The absence of rest areas increases shoulder related accidents due to parked vehicles on the side of the road by 52%
· Reducing driver fatigue accounted for a 3.7% reduction in accident rates.
· Motorist’s use of rest areas reduced accidents by 3.7% representing a benefit to society of 148 million dollars.
In an article titled, A Safe Place to Rest,” by Maria Koklanaris (enclosed) it is reported that 80% of the drivers surveyed reported that they were always or often unable to find a parking space in a public rest area at night. When rest areas are full, people (not just truck drivers) either drive drowsy or park where they’re in danger. Either way, everyone suffers.
The commonly accepted distance between rest areas (for the maximum affect) is thirty minutes of driving time.
There is and has been Title 23 money for up to 100% of the cost of rest stops! However, truck stop owners and other businesses that cater to the traveling public mistakenly see rest areas as competition. Also the non-traveling public doesn’t view rest areas as a high priority.
There is a building consensus that the federal government should allow states to take on commercial partners to develop rest areas. This makes a lot of sense in this economy.
4) Another misconception is that on highway (public) and off highway (private truck stop) parking is interchangeable. This is only slightly true. Most drivers we talk to will go to a truck stop to get fuel, a hot meal and a shower and then they look for a “quiet” place to rest, usually a rest area. If not a rest area, they find a place anywhere close to the highway so they can maximize the next day’s eleven hour driving time regulation. Also, virtually every truck stop has become a hot bed of activity for prostitutes, drug dealers and common thieves selling stolen goods.
Hours of service rules were developed with the expectation that a driver will be rested and ready to drive for the next eleven hours. That’s not likely in most truck stops.
A revolving loan fund can be set up for truck stop owners to upgrade security, install cameras and lighting, increase parking spaces, etc.
5) Businesses can also partner with their state’s department of transportation to provide auxiliary lots. These would be located less than on-half mile from the highway, be secure, and maintained by the businesses. These would take some pressure off the rest areas.
6) Another approach that is relatively cheap and could be implemented quickly would be to develop signage to direct truckers to off highway parking. Here distance is key. At $2.00 plus per mile in operating expenses, drivers won’t go far off route to park.
In summary, everything we do to help truck drivers do their jobs helps us all. Providing truckers with safe places to rest on or near the highways keeps everyone safer. Giving them a place at or near their destination to wait makes our mad dash to work safer. Our economy and our lifestyles depend on moving products from their source to market and you can’t do that without a truck. More than that, they pay more taxes than any other profession.