There’s been a lot of talk about VDOT proposal to close down more than half of the rest stops in Virginia, with most on the I-81 corridor. If this proposal were to pass, more than 300 miles would exist between rest stops on I-81 in Va. Since drivers are required to stop after 11 hours of driving, what happens if there is no parking available? Do they continue driving illegally or do they park illegally? Either way, it could become a serious safety issue for them.
Truck drivers all over are extremely concerned ( to put it mildly). Parking was a problem before the new proposal, how much worse it will be? A major factor we need to look at is the safety of the driver. Recently, a young man was shot twice in the head while parked at an abandoned gas station in a rural area in South Carolina. Jason Rivenburg was only 35 years old with a small child and two more on the way. The reaon for his death? Seven dollars that he was carrying. This story has outraged many, and it should! When those of us, who already know the lack of parking situation, hear about senseless murders like this, taking advantage of tired, sleeping, defenseless drivers, we become angry.
Now, lets look at something else for a moment. The economy as everyone knows, is not at its best. People are losing jobs daily and many become desperate. For a small group of individuals, desperate means that they’ll do anything!
Just think for a moment what the combination is for a falling economy and truck parking closings:
If truck driver Jason Rivenburg was shot and killed for seven dollars, and more rest stops for drivers are going to be closed, what kind of sitting duck targets do you think truck drivers will be when they are forced to pull over in areas so they may legally rest.
Are you seeing the picture? Does everyone see the potential for the risk and safety hazards drivers will be faced with? And what is the major reason for the VDOT rest stop closings? It’s a remedy to save 12 million dollars towards an anticipated 2.6 budget billion dollar shortage. If this proposal goes through, I’m just wondering how many more tragedies would have to occur before someone would admit that perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea.
Personally, I don’t think the proposal will be passed. It will take many of us voicing our opinions though. We have to get the general public involved. When more people outside of trucking are made aware of the seriousness of this situation, they will become involved…it’s just making them aware.
Regulations are always calling out for “safety” first! Where is the safety in causing weary, out of hours drivers being forced to continue on in order to find a safe and secure parking area?
Call your represetatives, contact your local news, contact the DOT.
© 2009 – 2013, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.