Letter: Enforcement Decision May Put Fatigued Truck Drivers on I-83

The president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association says increased enforcement will actually cause a safety risk

The Maryland State Police recently announced that, starting Sept. 7, officers would implement a to truck drivers who park on the shoulders of I-83.

In the release, it was stated that commercial drivers should plan in advance where they want to park when they need a break—saying parking on the shoulder leads to "extremely dangerous conditions."

These actions reveal a misunderstanding of why truck drivers are parked on the shoulders of roadways. Simply put, there is insufficient truck parking in Maryland and around the country. This problem is growing. In its 2006 Truck Parking Partnership Study, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council reported: The Baltimore metropolitan region, and specifically the Northeast Corridor, has seen unparalleled growth in truck traffic over the past 20 years—and truck traffic is expected to keep growing.

In the next 25 years, the BMC travel model forecasts a more than 30 percent increase in truck vehicle trips. This increase in commercial traffic and the restrictions on driver operation time create a growing demand for truck parking facilities throughout the country, and particularly in densely populated areas such as the Baltimore region.

Drivers park on the I-83 shoulders not because they want to, but because they have to, since there are no truck parking facilities along I-83 in Baltimore County. To expect that this parking shortage can be overcome by “urging truck drivers to pre-plan for safe parking” ignores the challenges that professional drivers face.

These include continued reductions in the driving hours allowed under federal law, and unpredictable delays caused by traffic congestion, weather, or excessive wait times while loading or unloading. These delays cannot be anticipated and are outside of a truck driver’s control. Recently trucks were forced out of another Baltimore County location—Brooks Robinson Drive—where they had been parking to avoid the shoulders of I-695.

This begs the question, “Where do the trucks go?” Truck parking is like an air mattress. When you push down on one side, it pops up on the other. Only time will tell where those displaced trucks will park next.

Parking on the shoulder of a busy highway does create a dangerous situation, but the alternative of forcing a fatigued trucker to continue driving because he cannot find a parking place is much worse.

Issuing citations to these professional truck drivers will only force them to either:

• Continue to park on the I-83 shoulders so they can rest when tired (while paying the citation); or

• Remain on the highway while looking for new locations that will likely be inappropriate for truck parking.

Without trucks, Maryland stops. Truck drivers are the backbone of our state’s economy. Every day, truck drivers deliver 400,000 tons of essential goods, such as clothing, medicine, electronics, fuel, and food. Over 93 percent of all Maryland communities depend exclusively on trucks for freight, making us one of the most truck-dependent states in the country.

Those drivers who are trying to safely and efficiently deliver the state’s goods don’t deserve a citation for pulling off when needing a rest. They deserve our thanks.

Louis Campion

President, Maryland Motor Truck Association

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Roger September 08, 2012 at 08:53 AM
State police are just highway bandits. Low paid. You get what you pay for. They are cold and have no idea about who their customer is. Hiding like sneaks trying to get regular people going 11 miles over - even if done safely - is not what I want my cops doing. (no i have never had a speeding ticket) I want them doing real service for my safety - go after aggressive drivers. Really help people that break down. Pull those truck tire treads off the highway. Find places for trucks to rest. How quick we forget the fatal truck wrecks. They are our nations blood cells driving our interstate arteries. And they are real small business people working hard to make a very modest living. I support providing real service to the truckers too.
Jill Dudley Cohen September 08, 2012 at 11:51 AM
I like the idea of creating a new space for the truck drivers. These hard working people are often working crazy hours to bring us products that we need and want. The way they are treated is appalling.
John T. September 08, 2012 at 05:12 PM
The trucking industry has proven to be a lucrative place to extort quite a bit of money. Just look at the number of checkpoints that state police set up to try to find a violoation and award stiff fines. It's become too much of a revenue source for the state. That cost like almost all others eventually finds its way into the consumers pocket.
Mike Jones September 10, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Shows how ignorant the trucking industry is....cant even sleep...
Reido November 15, 2012 at 10:31 PM
The truck stop in Pennsylvania can't handle the amount of trucks now! Most nights I go by there, usually about 12 AM, trucks are lined up on the shoulder 6 trucks, or so, before and after it. People have suggested someone buy some land and make another stop, but that won't fly either. People will complain and write their representatives about the noise and "prostitution" that "accompany" anything like this. Remember the protests about the Baltimore Travel Plaza off of O'Donnell Street? Trucks were banned from parking on the shoulders, but it's good to see they can park again. If someone wants to see why the drivers need to pull off, all you have to do is look at the guard rails and skid marks from drivers who are tired. The fact that there are no lights, except at exits from York, PA to the Shawan Rd. exit make it a long and dark stretch for guys and gals who are only trying to make a living.


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