Recently, a truck driver found himself feeling fatigued as he was driving his vehicle at 2 o'clock in the morning on a highway. The truck driver wanted to stop, but he had heard there was a local crackdown by the highway patrol on trucks stopped on the side of the road. This crackdown was reportedly caused by concerns about safety, since some reports indicated around 20 percent of interstate crash deaths happened due to stopped cars on highway road shoulders. While it would later turn out the crackdown was politically-motivated and death rates may have been overstated slightly, the trucker's legitimate fear of being ticketed prompted him to keep driving even when he was too tired to do so safely.
Unfortunately, this resulted in a truck accident. No one was hurt, but 50,000 pounds of potatoes spilled out across the interstate and the trucker will face charges. Trucking Info indicates there is no evidence to suggest the driver had violated requirements limiting the total number of on-duty hours, and no evidence to suggest the driver had not been complying with requirements for keeping log books of on duty time. However, drivers can still get tired even if they have not exceeded federal regulations for maximum drive time. If a driver gets tired, he needs to be provided with a safe place to park to avoid truck accidents caused by fatigued driving. Too often, this does not happen.
Lack of Parking Increases Fatigued Truck Accidents
Wall Street Journal reports lack of parking is a common problem for truckers and is one of the primary reasons why fatigued truck accidents are so common. A study conducted by Federal Highway Administration found: "Parking shortages that could cause truck drivers to continue driving while tired or to stop and spend the night on road shoulders and exit ramps are a national safety concern."
More than 75 percent of professional truck drivers expressed concerns about having a hard time finding safe places to park and around 90 percent said they had problems finding a safe spot to park at night. When a trucker has no place to stop and is tired, he has a choice between illegally parking to get some rest (and risking causing a crash) or continuing to drive until he gets to a rest stop even though he knows he is too tired to be safe while driving.
Illegal parking is common, with officials in 48 states indicating they knew of spots where illegal parking was happening. Officials in 11 states said they knew of at least 11 spots where truckers parked unlawfully. Close to 50 percent of illegal parking areas were freeway ramps and 27 percent of illegal parking spots were on freeway shoulders. Truckers parked in these locations increase crash risks, but the drivers could also cause crashes if they kept driving so they are in a bad spot no matter what. Obviously better solutions need to be provided to avoid this dangerous Catch 22.