Roadways Becoming Dangerous Parking Lots: Parked Semi-Trucks on the Interstate
Have you noticed lately that lots of semitrucks are parked along interstate exit ramps, rest areas, and sometimes just on the side of the road? Well, Congress has noticed it, too, and is taking steps to increase the number of safe parking spots for tractor-trailers and semis across the county.
The importance of making sure truck drivers have a safe place to park their semis while taking breaks cannot be overstated. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that driver fatigue is responsible for 30-40% of big truck wrecks and fatalities. More concerningly, the NTSB reports that deaths in crashes involving semi-trucks increased by over 13% between 2020 to 2021, entering a “crisis level” of over 5,601 fatalities from truck wrecks in 2021, the highest recorded in over 15 years.
Because of the increased likelihood of a fatality when a truck driver is fatigued, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandates truck drivers take 30 minute break every 8 hours of driving and a 10 hour break every 14 hours of driving. Because of the growing amount of semitruck shipping and a deteriorating transportation infrastructure, there aren’t enough parking spaces available for truckers to take a break every 8 hours or to sleep every 14 hours.
In a recent survey, over 98% of truck drivers reported regularly experience problems finding safe parking. As a result, far too many truck drivers are choosing to stop for breaks or to sleep while their trucks are parked on the shoulders of America’s interstates. Importantly, it is illegal in Kentucky to park a semi-truck weighing more than 44,000 pounds on a shoulder of an interstate, expect in emergencies. Indiana and all other states have similar laws.
Parking a semitruck on the shoulder of an interstate creates a serious safety risk. A semitruck on the side of the road is like a sitting duck—it can obstruct views on curves, cause traffic to veer into a neighboring lane to avoid it, and can lead to collisions. This includes a fatal semi-on-semi wreck in El Paso in November 2021, another semi-on-semi wreck in Indiana in February 2022, and a fatal July 2022 wreck in Florida where a car struck a parked semi on an off-ramp to a rest area.
As America’s interstates become busier with truck shipping, the likelihood of parked semitrucks on the side of the road will continue to increase, along with the likelihood of accidents, property damage, serious injuries, and deaths. Hopefully, with Congress and the tucking industry taking the matter seriously, more safe parking places will be added to the nation’s road network over the coming years.
Here at the Poppe Law Firm, we have represented numerous clients for their roadway injuries, as well as grieving family members who lost loved ones in a car, semitruck, or motorcycle accidents, securing substantial verdicts and settlements to compensate them for their loss. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car, semitruck, or motorcycle wreck, please contact us online on by telephone at 502-895-3400.