Overdrive Extra

Max Heine

The link between highways and murder

| September 06, 2012

Everyone in trucking knows about the dangers of overnight parking, whether it’s at truck stops, rest stops or elsewhere. That knowledge isn’t known as deeply outside the industry, though a new book, Ginger Strand’s “Killer on the Road,” can close that gap for readers.

The book tackles a broader subject: the link between murders and the Interstate Highway System. Some serial killers, Strand argues,  find the system’s mobility and anonymity to their liking, such as Ted Bundy, whose spree covered seven states.

Strand, quoted in a New York Times review, writes that “at least 25 former truckers are currently serving time in American prisons for serial murder.” She says truck stops are hot spots for lots of crime, including murder. They could be safe, lively spots to spend time, but instead offer little more than a TV room.

She doesn’t stop there. Truckers themselves are “less educated, less stable, less tied to unions, less rooted in family life” than they used to be. Many are depressed. Their pay sucks.

When it comes to typical victims of truck stop murders – lot lizards – the situation is equally sad. They earn little, risk much and are considered by many to have throw-away lives.

“Those devalued lives, like the truckers’,” Strand writes, “are unimaginable outside the landscapes highway federalism built: the anonymous world of exit ramps, right-of-ways and travel plazas where places are numbers, people are anonymous, and human interaction is entirely mediated by commerce.”

Sound off: Do you think truck stops and rest areas breed crime?

Are today’s truckers worse off than those on the road decades ago?

What’s missing at truck stops?