OOIDA members react to Virginia State Police’s ‘get a room’ advice

| 2/3/2009

Many truckers have weighed in on the Virginia State Police’s recent advice to “get a room” if they are out of hours and needing to take a break when passing through the state. “Get a clue” has been the overwhelming response from truckers to the VSP’s recommendation.

Get a room – that’s the advice Corinne Geller, spokeswoman for VSP, recommended as a solution, along with better trip planning, for truckers who must take their 10-hour mandatory break.

Several drivers, including Lyman Lincoln of Huber Heights, OH, have been ticketed in Virginia for exceeding the state’s two-hour parking maximum at rest areas because they couldn’t find a spot elsewhere to pull off. Some truck stops only allow parking for up to four hours before they force drivers to move on.

OOIDA member Matthew Maier of Richmond, VA, e-mailed Land Line after reading about Lincoln’s plight in a Land Line article on Monday, Feb. 2. Click here to read the article.

Maier also sent an e-mail to Geller outlining the struggles and challenges truckers face daily to comply with federal regulations and then try to juggle federal laws with state laws as well.

His response back from Geller was – well, he really didn’t get a response back to the questions he posed.

“The State Police are tasked with enforcing all existing state law,” Geller wrote in an e-mail to Maier. “It is not a matter of picking and choosing which laws to enforce and which ones not to enforce.”

Geller told Land Line recently that it’s not VSP’s responsibility to “make sure (drivers) are in compliance with the hours of service.”

Before he moved to Virginia, Maier said he was ticketed for parking at a rest area after pulling in because he was “struggling to keep (his) eyes open” after waiting nearly five hours to get loaded in Scranton, PA.

He, like Lincoln, was awakened from a deep sleep, ticketed and told to move on.

“I did finally ask if (the trooper) was going to also give me a ticket for driving during my sleeper berth (time) and he said that he could if he wanted to and again added that it’s not his problem that I didn’t plan for a place to park,” Maier said.

OOIDA members Keith and Shan Russell of Dothan, AL, wrote their lawmakers and attached the Land Line article as “another example of what difficulties we must endure to do our jobs for the American economy and consumer.”

“Every day we are faced with inconsistent and ridiculous state laws, regulations and policies that fly directly in the face of our federally-mandated requirements regarding hours-of-service,” the Russells wrote in the letter. “We hope that you will take a serious look … and help us meet our federally mandated requirements without state intervention with unsafe and unreasonable interference.”

As for Maier, he just wanted an answer to the question he posed to Geller and the VSP.

“If you are truly looking out for the greater public safety, then ask yourself what poses the greater threat to that safety; a rest area full of sleeping truckers or the countless tired truck drivers you wake up and force to drive down the highway every night,” he wrote. “I think the answer to that question speaks for itself.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer