2014 US Trucking News – Shortage of Truck Rest Areas in the United States
The lack of good rest areas for truck drivers has created problems throughout the country, but in one Bronx neighborhood, the circumstances has become really bad that the message that is being sent out to truckers is a clear “Stay out!”.
The Bronx is currently at a point where highways I-95, I-87, and I-287 meet, but truck parking is still extremely rare. So if these truck drivers need to find a place where they can take their mandatory breaks, they don’t have anywhere else to go except on the side of the road in neighborhoods where homes usually cost around $600,000. Kenneth Kearns, the district manager of Bronx Community Board 10, says that this problem regarding parking spaces for trucks is turning into a “quality of life issue” for those who live in the district.
Kearns says that these trucks have the tendency to be very large, old, and dirty. They sit there all night just grinding away, while their drivers are sleeping in the back of the truck. The community is not interested in turning into a truck stop.
The community board has installed a brand new fine for truck drivers who are caught being inoperative in the streets. One infraction costs up to $515. Kearns defended this fine, saying that the purpose of the board was to listen to the issues of the taxpayers who reside in the community, and that these trucks and other types of commercial vehicles are becoming a large concern. He mentions that the trucks occupy important parking spaces and produce a lot of disturbing noise at night while they idle away during the drivers’ resting hours.
A resident from the Bronx says that she doesn’t have any clue how to talk to these truck drivers. She is not familiar with their faces either, since they don’t even live in this neighborhood. The drivers usually wander off the highway, and eventually end up finding a parking spot on the city streets, where they shouldn’t be parking. The resident also says that nobody in the neighborhood wants to see these drivers, but they have no idea where to put them either.
Despite the fact that there is already a lack of good parking areas, there are also new plans to build up an outlet mall. The issue of overcrowding will definitely get worse as the years pass, but is it still okay to raise fines on truck drivers who have no place to park their vehicles?
Truck Rest Areas in the United States
In the United States, rest areas are usually non-commercial facilities that offer parking and restrooms for drivers. Some of these rest areas have information kiosks, vending machines, and picnic areas, but little else. Other rest areas have dump facilities, where truck drivers are able to empty their sewage holding tanks. These rest areas are preserved and funded by the Department of Transportation and the state governments. In 2008, some rest areas were closed by the government due to the late-200s recession.
Certain places, such as California, have rules that strongly prevent private sellers from occupying these rest stops. A federal decree that was passed by the Congress also prevents states from letting private retailers from occupying rest areas found in Interstate highways.
The relevant clause of 23 USC 111 affirms that the State will not permit automotive service stations, or other commercial establishments for serving motor vehicle users to be constructed or located on the rights-of-way of the Interstate System.
Special blue signs, meaning food, gas, camping, lodging, and attractions at an exit are also found on a lot of freeways in North America. And by paying the government a small fee, private retailers are allowed to add their logos to these signs.
Attempts to get rid of the federal ban on privatized rest areas are usually unsuccessful, because of the confrontation from other existing retailers that have already build large capital investments in their current locations.
In 2003, President George W. Bush’s bill about the federal highway funding reauthorization had a clause which allowed states to begin working with privatized rest areas on Interstate highways. This clause was strongly opposed by the National Association of Truck Stop Owners (NATSO) which argued these rest areas would shift income to state governments, through lease payments that would’ve belonged to local governments, in the form of sales and property taxes. The NATSO also argued that by removing private commercial truck stops, this bill would end up in an outbreak of sleepy and drowsy truck drivers, since these stops can only provide about 90% of the parking spaces that are used by truck drivers while they are in transit.
A driver named Rich Charles says that he kept hearing complaints from community boards and residents, as well as ridiculous answers from these truck drivers. No one could come up with a decent answer. There have been talks over the years to warehouse New York bound freight in New Jersey, and just use daycabs to deliver them, but it did not push through. Nighttime is not a good time for people to go to work, and truck drivers refuse to get caught up in New York’s daytime traffic. If rest areas were built in New York, then these drivers would not be safe.
Charles says that his answer would violate the rules of the FMCSA, but he believes that any driver who delivers in any of Manhattan’s five boroughs should be permitted to drive outside the city to a well-lit safe haven. But in order to be able to access these safe havens, a proof of delivery must be given. America’s highway tax dollars could be used to build more rest areas. A restroom for both male and female truck drivers would be all that is needed, as well as a moderately ample parking area containing trash receptacles as well as CCTV cameras for protection and law enforcement.
Another driver agrees, saying that no parking is definitely a large issue—Not just in the Bronx, but all over the US. When these drivers get exhausted because of simply trying to find a place to park, it can be quite difficult. Many states are already shutting down their rest areas since they can become too expensive to maintain, and those who are still open have rules against idling. Because of this, drivers get stressed out due to fatigue, and the lack of proper sleep since they are too hot or cold can lead to fatigue-related accidents, even though they already took their required breaks.