Trucks Parked Illegally Could Pose Major Safety Threat

As one of the primary means of transport for goods in this country, it seems the road is always packed with tractor-trailers. No matter what time of day you find yourself behind the wheel, chances are high that you will share the road with several large trucks. And they can be intimidating – drifting out of their lane, losing tire tread, barreling down on cars. But have you ever considered that they are also a danger when they are sitting still?

A lack of available parking combined with restrictions on how long a truck driver is allowed to be behind the wheel leaves many such drivers to feel they have no option other than to park in undesignated or unauthorized spaces. This illegal parking on the side of the road presents a serious hazard for the rest of the motoring public.

Last November, an 18-wheeler parked on the shoulder of an I-95 onramp in Western Palm City was struck by a car, killing the passenger. The truck driver had stopped to check his tires, leaving three feet of the left side of the truck protruding onto the onramp. Just two months prior, a South Florida TV station monitored about 20 miles of I-95 between Riviera Beach and Del Rey Beach to gauge how often tractor-trailer drivers were wrongfully using highway shoulders for rest stops. That investigation found many truckers had “precariously pulled off the interstate, posing a grave danger to drivers,” parking illegally without properly displaying traffic cones, signs, or hazard lights.

You might think the solution is simple: truckers should just keep driving until they find a safe, legal place to park that's not already full. Turns out, it's not that easy, because truck drivers aren't free to drive as long as they like. After a certain number of hours, they are contractually and legally required to stop. There is also a shortage of available truck parking lots, a problem with non-commercial motor vehicles taking designated truck parking spots, and time limitations on parking in public rest areas. In fact, a recent poll suggests that drivers feel like they are being forced to park in undesignated or unauthorized areas:

  • 9.5 percent say they have to park illegally every day
  • 12.2 percent say they have to park illegally 5 to 7 times each week
  • 36.5 percent say they have to park illegally 3 to 4 times each week
  • 25.7 percent say they have to park illegally 1 to 2 times each week
  • 5.4 percent say they have to park illegally twice a month
  • Only 10.8 percent say they never have to park illegally.

Here in the Sunshine State, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) conducted a study with Florida International University to assess the parking situation. They discovered that there is indeed an imbalance between the number of trucks on the road and truck parking capacity, with some locations overflowing while others are underutilized. To help address the situation, FDOT is installing a Truck Parking Availability System (TPAS) along I-4, I-10, I-75 and I-95 at locations such as welcome centers, weigh stations, and rest areas. The idea is that drivers can find real-time information about the availability of commercial vehicle parking along their route. The hope is that with time and further development, the system will also be able to predict lot availability.

Although TPAS is a step in the right direction, inadequate truck parking is one of truck drivers' and carriers' top concerns. The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) ranked this issue as the 4th most prevalent trucking industry issue. Until more solutions are found to this continuing problem, drivers will continue to park illegally – making even the edges of the road a dangerous place to be.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you need an experienced attorney to effectively represent your interests. At Stabinski Law, we have successfully represented victims throughout Florida who have been seriously hurt by negligent drivers. We have also assisted families who have lost loved ones in traffic accidents. For over 45 years, we have been helping injured motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists put their lives back on track and we are ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next, or if you have any questions about this topic, call 305-964-8644 or fill out a free case evaluation form.
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