The fact is this: Even the most skilled, professional truck driver will wind up having issues driving if he or she becomes too tired while on the road. Still, finding a good place to stop and take some rest time isn’t that easy. It can actually be quite a challenge for many a truck driver.
In a recent survey, a shocking 80 percent of respondents stated that they drive past the point of feeling “safe and alert” because they have problems finding a safe place to stop. So what’s a truck driver to do?
A Puzzling Situation
The parking situation can certainly be a puzzle, there’s no doubt about that. There are a different number of ways that both the industry and regulators can come to describe the current rest and parking situation.
One of the problems here is that both the private truck stop industry and the trucking industry as a whole disagree with each other on how bad the problem is, or what the best way to address it may be.
As an example, the trucking industry firmly believes that there just aren’t enough places for truck drivers to stop for a rest, and many operators out there on the roads can attest to this fact.
They cite a survey conducted by the Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) that showed more than 90 percent of respondents stated they have a problem finding a decent parking spot at least once a week.
Even more bizarre? 10 percent stated they have problems up to five times a week. These are likely long haulers who operate in areas with sparse available parking.
Truck Stop Opinion
On the other side of the argument, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) reports that truck drivers who can’t find a place to rest are either unaware of the spaces available or they are deliberately passing truck stops.
They site a private survey showing that even at the busiest times in the busiest transportation corridors, there was still at least a 17 percent parking availability. The problem here is that the study relies on monitoring only busiest corridors, rather than all potential routes and where truckers may stop on those routes.
The problem doesn’t stop at discord within the trucking industry and private operators, however. Safety advocates are also at loggerheads with state agencies over how many spaces should be available to truckers and how many truckers should be allowed to stay there.
While the majority of states allow truckers to sleep undisturbed at public rest areas, others mandate that they must move on if they have been seen stationary at a public rest area for more than few hours.
A Final Word?
According to a separate OOIDA survey, approximately 15 percent of truckers surveyed reported having been pushed out of public rest areas, even if they had completed their maximum driving time for that day.
So what are some of the solutions? There are a number of concerns related to safety at truck stops. Safety recommendations can include things like locating enforcement substations or increasing police presence, though there are some logistical challenges to this proposal.
Some have even suggested a rating system for certain private facilities. Other questions surround whether rest areas are properly staffed or have security or camera systems installed. Are signs openly available to show where to go to report on a crime?
There are a number of questions surrounding safety at truck stops and rest areas. As the weeks go on we will continue reporting on these many issues and the solutions proposed to alleviate them. What will the future of trucking safety at rest stops look like? We’ll be right there to let you know.