MONROE, Ohio (AP) — The amount of semitrailers on the road has climbed in recent years, but the number of parking spots for drivers to stop and rest hasn’t kept pace, leading to what truck drivers and industry leaders describe as a safety hazard that puts truckers on the road for too long.
The Dayton Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/1HZHGjj) the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s count of trucks registered across the country has grown from 8.2 million in 2004 to 10.6 million in 2013. The increase has been accompanied by more truck accidents. Ohio, for example, saw a record of nearly 21,300 truck crashes last year, involving 143 fatalities.
Under federal regulations, drivers can put in 11 hours a day driving and work no more than a total of 14 hours before 10 hours of mandatory down time. But truckers say a lack of parking spots prevents them from meeting that standard.
“Sometimes people have driven miles illegally just trying to find a place to park and that’s not good,” truck driver Angela Sanders of Toledo said at a crowded rest stop on Interstate 75 between Dayton and Cincinnati.
The regulations for rest are important, but parking is often an afterthought, said Jet Express President Kevin Burch, who also serves as a vice chairman of the American Trucking Associations.
“These truckers have to have rest, so where do they go?” Burch said. “The truck stops are full. The rest stops are full. The shopping centers have no parking. It is a big problem that no one seems to care about.”
Encounters with tired drivers on the road can prove costly for motorists. Linda Copeland of Darke County was stopped at an intersection in 2011 when she noticed a truck in her rear-view mirror speeding up instead of slowing down.
The truck, driven by a fatigued driver, destroyed her car and left her with emotional scars that linger today, said Copeland’s attorney, Andy Young.