This urban legend is based on true events. Truck driver John William “Pete” drove a tanker truck with 4,600 gallons of gasoline. On the way he sacrificed his life with crashing the tanker into the bridge abutment to avoid a school bus full of kids.
The legend says that this man pick up hitchhikers from that intersection over the years and give them a ride to some rest station.
For this event Red Sovine in the song Phantom 309 sings about a hitchhiker who was lifted to a truck stop by the trucker Big Joe, when he informs the people in that diner who give him a ride, waiter tell him the story of the truck driver who died to save school bus full of kids. The waiter also says that he was not the first who experience this, many other hitchhikers were picked up from the Big Joe.