Study finds Oklahoma one of 12 states without enough parking spaces for truckers

Tuesday, July 2nd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ There aren't enough parking spaces in highway rest areas for truckers in 35 states, the Federal Highway Administration reported Tuesday.

In many cases, drivers can use private truck stops instead, but 12 states, including Oklahoma, don't have enough room at the commercial facilities either, the study found.

The report, commissioned by Congress, counted an estimated 315,850 parking spaces at public rest areas, travel plazas and private truck stops along interstate highways and other routes in the National Highway System. Just 10 percent were in rest areas.

It recommended that private industry continue shouldering most of the burden of giving truckers a place to rest.

``Public rest areas ... were never intended and will never be sufficient to accommodate truck-parking demand,'' the report said.

The president of the trucking industry's trade group, the American Trucking Associations, said the government needs to give truckers a place to park.

``The bottom line is that if federal law _ and common sense safe driving _ require truck drivers to pull over for a prescribed period of rest, then the federal government has an obligation to help provide enough safe, secure parking spaces for them to do so,'' association president William Canary said.

Around 800 people a year die in truck crashes where driver fatigue was a factor, according to the Transportation Department.

``Safety is our highest transportation priority, and we must find ways to reduce fatigue-related crashes,'' FHWA Administrator Mary Peters said. ``We are working with our state and local partners, as well as with the private sector, to make sure that drivers of trucks and buses have sufficient parking areas for rest stops.''

The report recommended that states expand the rest areas and work with the private sector to expand both travel plazas and truck stops. And it recommended that states no longer force truckers who have driven the maximum number of hours they can under federal law to leave public rest areas even if they exceed limits on how long they can park there.

The 12 states without enough truck parking are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas and Washington.

Another 23 states do not have enough public spaces, but private spaces fill the gap. Those states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.