Putting the Brakes on Highway Killings

This map shows the more than 500 cases in the FBI's Highway Serial Killings Initiative database the red dots mark where bodies or remains have been found along highways over the past 30 years.

Last week, USA Today ran a fascinating story on the FBI’s Highway Serial Killer Initiative, shedding light on a disturbing subculture of long-haul truck drivers who kill. Turns out they kill a lot. Or maybe there’s just a lot of them. No one really knows. Regardless, the body count is rising.

Over the last 30 years, more than 500 people, mostly prostitutes, hitchhikers and, to a lesser extent, travelers, have been found dead along highways in 48 states. Since the initiative launched in 2004, the FBI has drawn up a list of more than 200 suspects, most of whom are truckers.

The FBI speculates that people inclined to rape and kill are sometimes drawn to the profession due to the anonymity it offers, access to victims, and plenty of open land on which to dump the remains.

In the article, Norita Taylor, spokesman for a trucking trade group, says, as paraphrased by the paper, “Millions of truckers are on the roads each day. Even if all of the highway serial killers happen to be truckers, that’s still a tiny minority of the profession.”

Millions on the road each day? That seems like a lot. But lets say it is true. Is 200 serial killers per million truckers a good ratio? Is 200 an acceptable number of homicidal people criss-crossing the country in 18-wheelers with little oversight? Taylor seems comfortable with that. It’s palatable. It’s just one of those things.

What if we applied this logic to teaching? Or medicine? How about bus drivers? Or any other profession you might reasonably expect to not enable maniacs. Why can the trucking industry be so cavalier about murder? Then again, what is it they could do? Just how do you go about ensuring the truckers aren’t killing? Maybe it really is just one of those things.

1 Comment

  1. John says:

    Well, as long as they come in on time and under mileage, it’s all good, right?Bottom line is profits, not some hippie or prostitute. Yeh, I would say 200 serial killers per million is a bit high. . . .

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