A recent study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration found that a shortage of parking spaces for truck drivers could be causing a “national safety concern”. Drivers who are unable to find parking spots are more likely to continue to drive while tired or to park in unsafe locations like road shoulders and exit ramps.
The study found that over 90 percent of truck drivers regularly struggle to find available, safe, long-term parking at night when they need to rest. In fact, the problem is so widespread that safety officials in all but two states say that they could identify the most popular unofficial or illegal truck parking places.
While this problem is not new, it has been getting worse as the economy has begun picking up. Since freight volumes are expected to increase by almost 30 percent over the next decade, truck drivers are expected to encounter even further difficulty unless action is taken to remedy the problem.
Truck drivers are also subject to recent changes to the FMCSA’s “hours of service” rules that require them to take 30-minute rest breaks after eight hours of driving, and even longer breaks after they hit eleven hours. Without the appropriate parking facilities, drivers may be encouraged to violate these regulations.
In addition, the study found that out of the 309,000 parking spaces documented, 88 percent of them were located in private truck stops rather than public rest areas. It may seem obvious that truck stop owners should expand their parking lots, but this is often difficult to achieve in areas near communities who do not want more truckers stopping near them overnight. Many truck stops have empty spaces, but they are in areas where truck drivers do not need them when they have to stop and rest.
Unfortunately, this problem is not easy to solve because there is not one single entity responsible for creating or maintaining truck-parking facilities. The chief executive of the National Association of Truck Stop Operators hopes that better planning and utilization of truck parking facilities will help combat the problem in the future.
The Daspit Law Firm represents victims of truck accidents throughout Texas. If you or a loved one has suffered injury in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, please contact a Houston truck accident lawyer from our firm for a free consultation.