By Randy Appleton, Virginia Truck Accident Lawyer
Parking shortages along interstates could be causing truckers to continue to drive when they are tired. Or, they may end up spending the night on an exit ramp or shoulder and this could lead to severe accidents. This is according to a new study released last Friday by the Federal Highway Administration.
The 120-page study stated that each big rig driver that needs to park and rest should be able to find a full service parking space whenever it is necessary. However, there is often a lack of quality parking for tractor trailers, which can lead to increased driver fatigue and more crashes.
About 75% of the drivers surveyed stated that they often had problems finding a place to park when they needed to sleep. And 90% had difficulty finding a safe parking spot at night.
Unofficial and illegal truck parking along interstates are so common that public officials in 48 states reported that they could identify many of them. Almost half the time, the illegal parking places are freeway ramps, 27% of the time they are freeway shoulders. In 20% of cases, truckers use parking lots.
A shortage of truck parking is not new; it has gotten worse as the economy is improving. It also is being exacerbated by the changes that occurred in 2013 in hours of service rules that mandate truckers to take a 1/2 hour rest after eight hours of driving, and to stop after they have driven 11 hours.
This shortage isn’t being helped by freight volumes that are predicted to increase by 30% over the next 11 years, according to the American Trucking Association.
The parking problem has gotten more attention recently after a truck driver died in 2009 when he parked illegally at an abandoned gas station. There also have been many accidents and close calls involved with trucks parking along highway shoulders at night. The problem is made worse by the fact that there is no one government entity that has responsibility for providing more parking places for tired truckers.
Our Virginia trucking accident law firm hopes that solutions are devised to provide tired truckers with more parking along busy interstates. It is good that federal trucking rules now cap work weeks for truckers at 70 hours, and require them to rest for 34 hours after that. Fatigued truck drivers cause many deadly accidents each year; we have represented the families and the estates of innocent drivers whose lives were taken in a truck crash.