Missing Truck Driver Alert Network Offers Vital Service to Industryby Jana Ritter - Published: 12/03/2013
Since it started almost two years ago, the Missing Truck Driver Alert Network’s Facebook page has almost 20,000 likes, its group has more than 7,000 members, and its Twitter account has almost 1,500 people following its tweets. “The ultimate goal of the Missing Truck Driver Alert Network is to locate and return drivers reported missing to their family, without loss,” Fisher said.
While the alert network cannot always return drivers to their families unharmed, Fisher said they work to get the word out to everyone in the trucking community with that goal in mind. The network also works with the law enforcement community and truck stops around the country to achieve its goal. The concept evolved because drivers do fail to make appointments “and are not missed until they fail to show up for a load or unload or fail to make the daily check call to their company or loved ones,” Fisher said. Not all trucks have electronic tracking devices. “In fact only the large ‘mega carriers’ have these devices, and they have been know to fail,” Fisher said.
To date, the network has been involved with more than 40 missing drivers, Fisher said. “Many (missing drivers) have been located safely, either because they had poor cell phone coverage or just lack of communication to family or employer,” she said. However, they have located two drivers who committed suicide, four they found in jail, one was the victim of homicide, and one left his family and moved out of the United States.
The Missing Truck Driver Alert Network runs 24/7. When someone contacts the network, staffers begin by collecting as much data as possible and then partnering with law enforcement and the missing driver’s carrier to facilitate the search, Fisher said. To protect the integrity of the organization, the network requires that a missing person report be filed with a law enforcement agency and entered into the National Crime Information Center before proceeding with a missing driver alert. Once the network verifies the report with the driver’s company or a law enforcement agency, the staff starts their process. The network begins by mapping out a route that a driver would have taken, Fisher said.
Administrators then begin the task of calling every truck stop on the driver’s route. Many times these phone calls include hospitals and Walmarts where a driver may have stopped to rest, she said. “We then send missing driver bulletins to sites and distribute photos and other gathered information so that truck drivers can be the eyes and ears of the highway,” Fisher said. One recent missing driver report had more than 100,000 page views and more than 3,000 page shares.
The network recently released a phone app. In addition to enabling text alerts to drivers’ phones when a verified missing-driver report comes through, the app provides a convenient method of reporting a sighting. If users “think they’ve spotted the truck,” drivers can use the “report a sighting” function within the app “to send a GPS alert back to the network to notify us of the possible sighting,” she said. The app is available on iPhone, iPad and Android platforms.
The alert network initially began raising money by selling T-shirts with the Missing Truck Driver Alert Network logo and decals with its phone number, Fisher said. Now the organization has started accepting sponsorships to offset the costs of incorporating, acquiring nonprofit status and maintaining and sustaining the network alert function. “We now have 11 sponsors who are supporting the efforts of (the network),” she said. “Many more are needed.”
Anyone who wants to help can contribute via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org. Individuals who donate between $25 and $10