You aren’t going to find safe parking between two yellow lines for a 75-to-80-foot tractor and trailer these days. I know when you pass a big semi parked on your exit ramp, at your local strip mall or at a few Walmart stores, you wonder why we’re there. I hear the general motoring public and residents everywhere asking why we aren’t parked at a truck stop or rest area or even at the shipper/receiver. The only answer is a simple one: “There is no parking available due to overcrowding and lack of space! It gets harder and harder!”
It’s 3:17 a.m. and I have 49 minutes left of drive time on my 11-hour clock and 1:16 on my 14-hour clock. My so-called plans go down the tubes right about this time every night out on the open road. If I don’t start looking for a safe place to park at least an hour before my drive time runs out, well, it’s going to be a long night chasing a clock.
After two rest areas, one weigh station, three truck stops and a Walmart with “No trucks allowed on property” signs, time is almost out! So now it’s a decision that nine out of 10 times ends in something illegal. My last resort before getting into a violation is parking on an exit or entrance ramp. Which is the most unsafe place I have ever had to park.
Why, you ask?
Believe me, I don’t like it anymore than anyone wants to see me parked there. Have you ever tried to sleep with speeding trucks and cars flying by several feet from your head? Every time I lie down on a ramp, I wonder how many are drivers whizzing by at 4 a.m., sleepy or possibly heading home from a night out on the town. But when there is nowhere else to go, I pray extra hard!
What’s disheartening is that in a recent survey put out by the American Transportation Research Institute, parking was tied for drivers’ top concern. It wasn’t in the carriers’ top 10.
What did truckers at MATS rank as their top issue? Parking.
Then there are several states that have a law against parking on exit and entrance ramps. But it’s a chance I and many others are forced to take. Tickets can be high for “illegal parking,” and we are usually asked to leave and find another safe location.
Now – you guessed it! Where am I going to go? It’s a never-ending nightly saga of safe parking.