One of the most horrific murders in the state happened in 2009 when Jason Rivenburg, a long distance truck driver from New York, was tragically slain while parked to rest at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina.
Willie Pelzer, 22, apparently stalked the truck driver and then attempted to ambush him for a grand total of $7 to buy drugs. Rivenburg had parked his truck at the abandoned gas station to rest for the night just as most truck drivers do when they have mandatory hours of rest while on the road. Once Pelzer got a clear view of Rivenburg in the truck, he shot him through the window tragically ending his life.
Pelzer was found guilty and sentenced to life in a South Carolina prison without parole. Since the murder, Rivenburg’s widow, Hope Rivenburg, formulated “Jason’s Law”, a law to provide more secure rest areas for truckers. The bill provided $120 million to aid the program in the shortage of commercial vehicle parking across the United States.
Recently, “Jason’s Law” conducted a survey on the average space available for truck drivers to safely park. The results were less than satisfying. The survey found that almost half of the state departments of transportation said truck drivers were basically forced to unsafely park on highway ramps and shoulders. Most states even reported they had dangerous shortages all times of the day and week.
Interestingly enough, the states with the highest commercial safe parking were Montana and Missouri while the states with the least amount of safe commercial parking were Rhode Island and California.
Unfortunately, with the continued lack of safe parking, most truck drivers may continue to drive on lack of sleep or be forced to park in areas that are dangerous.
In the upcoming months, the federal DOT and National Coalition on Truck Parking will meet with state officials and the trucking communities to try to incorporate truck parking into future transportation plans.