CARBONDALE, Ill. — A resolution introduced this month by an Illinois congressman could ease a longtime concern for truckers — lack of safe truck parking.
“One concern for truck drivers is the lack of enough safe parking spots,” said Rep. Mike Bost, R-12, in introducing HR 6104, the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act.
The bill, introduced March 5, is a bipartisan effort with Rep. Angie Craig, D-2, Minnesota.
“Right now, there is a lack of places for truck drivers to safely stop,” Craig said.
Bost said he understands the truck parking headaches from the perspective of a truck company owner and as someone who has driven big rigs.
His grandfather started Bost Truck Service in Murphysboro in 1935. The business, which Bost ran prior to his election to the U.S. House, is now operated by Bost’s brother and cousin.
Bost said that the mandatory use of electronic logging devices adds to the truck parking challenges for drivers.
“If a driver is coming up on the time they are going to run out of hours, they can’t always make it to a rest area that’s safe. They will be penalized if they don’t stop exactly when they are supposed to stop,” Bost said.
He pointed to increased numbers of trucks parked on ramps and shoulders.
“That’s why you have a lot of these trucks — the rest areas get full or overfull and then they are parking on the off ramp or on any ramp or they are parking out somewhere and that’s unsafe. You can have drivers getting robbed and shot or killed,” he said.
The leader of one of the Midwest’s major truck groups agreed that the lack of safe truck parking has been highlighted by ELDs, as well as the increase in the number of trucks on the road.
“This is an issue, it’s always been an issue. The problem is we get more and more trucks, we need more and more parking spaces and we have never really caught up in terms of the inventory,” said Don Schaefer, executive vice president of the Mid-West Truckers Association.
Schaefer said ELDs make a hard stop mandatory and require a driver to either stop or be penalized.
“The clock is ticking. With the clock ticking, you’ve got a definite shutoff time and that may mean you are on the side of the road or on an off ramp or you are desperately searching for a location where you can pull over and safely park. It’s made it a lot more difficult because it used to be that a driver had minutes and time to make it up,” Schaefer said.
Bost said his legislation would make $755 million in funds available over five years through a competitive grant program specifically for the construction of new truck parking spaces.
“What is so important about this legislation, this money can’t be shifted. The money is committed specifically for truck parking. The language focuses only on truck parking, it can’t be used for other things. This has to be for the creation of new truck parking spaces,” Bost said.
Bost said that while the legislation could add spaces, other issues impact the demand for truck parking.
“Is this going to cure all the problems? No. I still think we need to look at Hours of Service. We need to put common sense back into the decision-making process and not automatically think that everybody is in the same situation,” Bost said.