Truck driving is a dangerous profession, but not just because of the wide turns or low clearances.
Because drivers in the freight transportation industry are often heading into unfamiliar territory, usually while alone and with few contacts around, they’re more likely to be targeted by criminals.
This was the case with a South Carolina-based trucker who was traveling to Georgia. After stopping at a Chevron fuel station near Highway 116 and I-75, the driver decided to get some sleep. The spot is reportedly a popular location for truck drivers, especially when nearby truck stops don’t have any available parking.
But the driver left his door unlocked, and he awoke to two men who had broken in. They put a gun to his chest and demanded money and personal belongings. He surrendered almost $900, along with his phone, debit card, and PIN number at the robbers’ command.
A source in the Butts County Sheriff’s Office said: “He wakes up to it. Two people climb inside of his truck. He opens the curtains and he’s held at gunpoint, gun to his chest. They ended up taking one of his debit cards and his whole wallet and his cell phone.”
Officers say the robbers made off in a 2015, red KIA Sportage with a black tinned window roof. They also said it was likely the suspects would strike again and were able to get pictures of their faces thanks to security camera footage from a convenience store nearby.
While the driver escaped unharmed, not every trucker has been so lucky. Last year, the epidemic of violence against drivers increased. Two assaults took place within the span of a few days. One driver was jumped by two men in the bathroom of a tourist welcoming center, and officers discovered the wounded man in the parking lot at the end of a trail of blood.
Another man had two attackers jump the stall of a bathroom and beat him so severely he had to have part of his ear reattached.
The series of brutal incidents helped start the “Trucker Lives Matter” movement, which has used hashtags and protests to raise awareness about the dangerous work environment truck drivers face. The group has also pushed for legislative action, promoting Michael’s Law amendment, named after trucker Michael Boeglin who was shot and burned in his truck in 2014.
The law would amend an existing statute that allows drivers to transport guns in all 50 states like they would transport any other type of freight, allowing them to also carry a concealed handgun. The aim is to help drivers get around the complexities that come with protecting themselves while working in jurisdictions with different gun laws. The idea behind it is that a driver’s license works in all 50 states, so a gun permit should, too.
The law has yet to pass, but a recent legislated switch to electronic logging devices may have made things worse – with this mandate, drivers must stop whenever their break time comes up, even if there are no safe areas around.