The article "No Rest for the Weary" [front page, Nov. 24] overlooked the principal reason that professional truckers are driving tired.

Given the way that drivers are compensated, they are pressured to drive until they are fatigued, rather than stopping in areas where parking is plentiful. Had the driver mentioned in The Post's story been compensated on an hourly basis rather than by the mile, he probably would have parked safely at a truck stop before he becamed fatigued. But professional drivers have no financial incentive to plan ahead because of "pressure to stay on schedule."

A 1995 National Transportation Safety Board study identified driver compensation as one factor contributing to fatigue-related crashes. At no time did it mention lack of parking as a reason for these accidents. Because industry practices would be expensive to change, however, trucking companies choose to ignore the recommendations of the report and blame the government for inadequate rest areas.

The travel plaza and truck-stop industry, on the other hand, has an obvious financial incentive to add more parking, and the eight largest truck stop and travel plaza chains will add between 20,000 and 38,000 parking places in the next three years. Despite the article's assertions, in nearly every case these free spaces will be within a quarter mile of an interstate exit.



The writer works for a group that represents travel plazas and truck stops.

"No Rest for the Weary" raised the question of responsibility for the provision of facilities for truckers' rest. Once again the public is being asked to subsidize a profit-making enterprise that already takes excessive advantage of public facilities.

The trend toward owner-operators has intensified this problem. A lot of truckers are wandering around unfamiliar territory trying to figure out where they are going. Needing sleep in the middle of a trip is one of the results. Now that they have developed a reliance on being able to stop and rest any time, they want someone else to provide facilities convenient to the highway.

If the truckers need to have places to rest, they should provide them themselves or use private facilities that already exist.

Truck drivers deserve to make a living, but they should not be subsidized by the rest of us to a greater degree than they already are.



The writer works for a company that does consulting with Metro and railroads.