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Outbreak of Violence Has Truck Drivers on Edge


As violent protests erupt throughout the country, drivers are once again finding themselves on the front line and have, once again, been deemed essential.

Throughout the country, protestors have shut down interstates and streets.

Over the weekend, two tractor trailers were surrounded by protestors and looted.

In one of those incidents, one of the protestors was killed when he got caught between the truck’s trailers.

In response to these events, many drivers have taken to social media to share images of Reginald Denny, a truck driver who was pulled from his truck during the 1992 L.A. Riots and brutally beaten.

On a  April 29, 1992, Denny was heading from the Santa Monica Freeway heading to a plant in Inglewood. Loaded down with 27 tons of sand, Denny took a shortcut across Florence Avenue, straight into the path of danger.

Denny was unaware of the chaos that was unfolding just ahead. Denny’s truck was not equipped with a radio, so he had no way of knowing what he was driving into. At 6:46 pm, Denny pulled up to the intersection of Florence and Normandie. Rioters, angered over the Rodney King verdict, threw rocks at the cab’s windows.

A news helicopter captured the entire scene as it unfolded and went live across the country.  Millions of viewers watched as the rioters pulled Denny from his truck.  Antoine Miller opened the truck’s door, while others pulled Denny from the cab, on to the street.  Denny was punched, kicked and beat about the head.  Henry Wilson held Denny’s head down with his foot as another int he group kicked Denny in the abdomen. Denny was also bludgeoned with a claw hammer.  Toward the end of his beating, Damien Williams threw a concrete slab at Denny’s head, knocking him unconscious.

As Denny was lying on the ground, other rioters walked by, throwing bottles, spitting at him and kicking him. As a result of the beatings, Denny sustained 91 skull fractures and a badly dislocated eye, along with several other injuries.

Drivers are posting their concerns to Facebook groups. Many say they’re refusing freight to major cities.

Nearly 30 years later, carriers are scrambling to create policies to keep their drivers safe as violence erupts in major cities nationwide in response to the police officer involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

CDLLife reached out to multiple trucking companies to find how how they’re keeping their drivers safe.

Heather Robinson, Vice President of Operations at Riverside Transport said, “We are … not forcing drivers to go into areas where they feel unsafe. If they feel unsafe, they communicate that to us and we don’t send them to that area. The customers have been told that our driver’s safety and the safety of others are our main concern so we aren’t sending drivers into unsafe areas and adjusting appointment times to deliver during the day in areas with curfews.”

“We are intentionally routing around hot areas.  We do have loads in riot cities and so far its been ok. We do stage outside the city and then call the customer and review options.Each load is unique and different,” said Joe Richey from Great Plains Transport.

“We get operational alerts from customers in each area as things kick off.  Then we alert driver with messages and plans of attack. We will wait a hot area out for a safer window! That’s fine. Safety first.”

“We don’t currently have any trucks going into major cities at the moment — a lot of our freight has us in remote locations most of the time. That being said, we have had drivers going through some cities that have received local alerts. In the event we have a delivery or pick up inside an area where there are active protests, we will be checking with local authorities to ensure we can help the driver secure safe parking out of the effected area and will be encouraging drivers to stay in their truck for their own safety,” said Chase Patterson PDQ America Trucking Manager.

If you are a driver who is concerned about going into an area where there are active protests, we recommend that you contact your driver manager or call ahead and speak with the shipper or receiver to find out if the area is safe.


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