Tech partnership could enable safer parking. 'Here’s all we have to do'

Bob Rutherford Headshot
semi truck parking lot
Most of the reporting about truck driver security has focused on secure truck parking. There is no money in the new transpo bill for secure truck parking and from what I have read, there is no money to reopen rest areas that were closed due to budget constraints.

Many times in my career, after spending many hours in meetings and on telephone conversations, a solution to the problem or opportunity being discussed would hit me.

When it did, I would say, “Here’s all we have to do.”

I next outline the solution and propose an implementation plan. 

Truck driver security has been in the news lately due to budget cuts and the infrastructure bill being debated in Congress. As a life member of OOIDA, I get the monthly Landline Magazine. This fine publication covers the trucking industry from the owner operators’ and independent drivers’ prospective.

As a retired Silver Spark Plug, I am a life member of the ATA/TMC and get my weekly copy of Transport Topics, which covers the trucking industry from most business angles. Between CCJ, Landline and Transport Topics, I read a lot, then think a lot, then write a little.

Between these three publications and my extensive trucking industry background, I have come up with a “Here’s all we have to do” about truck driver security. 

Most of the reporting about truck driver security has focused on secure truck parking. There is no money in the new bill for secure truck parking. From what I have read there is no money to reopen rest areas that were closed due to budget constraints. Truck cargo and truckers are at their most vulnerable when parked, hence the focus on secure parking. 

FreightWatch was founded in 1998 to provide security for high-value freight. They are still in business and going strong. I think they are the perfect company to start a new business enterprise in partnership with two other companies that I have written about in a previous column where I used the writing technique “Speculative Business Fiction," which I invented.  

The name of this new business enterprise should be something along the lines of DriverWatch. The partners in this new enterprise should be Tenstreet, because they already have an app that many truck drivers use daily for many reasons, and Tangerine for not only GPS, but for the artificial intelligence and machine learning running in the back office on all the data that is collected. 

Much of what I am about to say comes from comments on my research post on LinkedIn. 

There was one story reported that, due to closed rest areas and bad weather, a convoy of a few trucks decided for safety to pull over on the side of the interstate and catch some sleep. They knew they couldn’t make it to the next truck stop and there was no way of knowing if there would be parking spaces available if they did.

Yet, pulling over on the shoulder is not the best choice, either. According to the story, when the Highway Patrol showed up and assessed the situation, they did not roust the truckers out of their sleep, but brought in extra cars with blue lights flashing to provide safety for both the drivers and the motoring public.

This is not a substitute for secure parking. Until we have secure parking what can we do? The need for secure parking is summed up in a ballad by Joey Holiday, “Song for Jason."

But what else can we (should we) do? Here’s all we have to do, and by we, I mean FreightWatch, Tenstreet and Innovations. 

FreightWatch would use all their security and law enforcement connections in conjunction with Tenstreet to expand their driver app to include DriverWatch. The DriverWatch part of the app is used when a driver has to park in a less than secure location. With DriverWatch, the driver pushes a button on the Tenstreet app which notifies DriverWatch that he is stopping and would like someone to watch over him.

Through the app, the driver might get a response from local police, sheriffs department, or maybe a retired FBI agent that would love to relive the days of drinking coffee on a stakeout. Maybe private investigators and security agencies could help out pro bono or could get reimbursed from a trucking industry security fund?

I envision a scheduling function where security resources can coordinate security asset deployment. In my world of speculative business fiction, the possibilities are endless. 

In the case of Jason from "Jason’s Song," maybe someone in law enforcement or private security could have done a sweep of the area and runoff or arrested the perpetrators before the crime.

Welcome to my world of, “Here’s all we have to do!”

Bob Rutherford is a 50-year veteran of the trucking industry. Thirty of those years were as a member of the TMC where he earned both the Silver Spark Plug and Recognized Associate awards for his contributions to the industry. He is also an Ambassador for the Conference.