CHARLOTTE, NC - Have you noticed a big increase in the number of tractor-trailer trucks parked on highway exit ramps?
There’s a reason. New federal rules went into effect in December that require truck drivers to have an electronic monitoring system in their trucks. It’s so they don't put others in danger by driving too long and falling asleep behind the wheel.
But the change is having an unintended fallout that could also impact public safety. Trucks parked along exit ramps can lead to accidents.
“It's very dangerous because you have people come off the exit ramp that might not be paying attention,” explained trucker Willis Magee.
But truckers say there are not enough rest areas along North Carolina interstates and the new federal rules mean they have to stop somewhere.
“We need to build bigger truck stops and get more parking,” said Magee.
“More space. You got a lot of rigs,” said trucker Jeremy Logan.
Despite the change in federal rules, the NC Department of Transportation says the truckers should not be parking on ramps. However, the NC Highway Patrol says it’s complicated to enforce.
“Knock on the doors and say you gotta keep moving. Well, then they're gonna be in federal violation,” said Ray Pierce with the North Carolina Highway Patrol. “Unfortunately, it's a nationwide problem. There's nowhere for them to rest.”
Some states have started to add rest stops just for trucks to help with the problem. Truckers we spoke with say North Carolina is behind the curve.
The Highway Patrol says it’s not waiting for someone to get hurt.
“What is the best way to solve this problem? And, that's what we're beginning to deal with and hopefully we'll have an answer soon,” said Pierce.
North Carolina's state traffic engineer told us truck parking is eligible for federal funding, but he is not aware of any projects in the works right now.
Some responsibility falls on truckers to plan their trips better, so they can find parking, but truckers argue their options are limited.
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