Illegal parking, hours of service violations lead to more accidents
Commercial trucks carry over 80 percent of freight in the Sunshine State, which means they're an everyday sight on our roads and highways. For decades, we've understood how important it is for truck drivers to be awake and alert behind the wheel. An exhausted trucker is a danger to everyone else on the road.
That's why federal hours of service (HOS) regulations require that truckers work only a certain number of hours before taking mandatory rest breaks. But when it's time for a truck driver to stop and rest, the truck itself needs a place to physically stop.
Unfortunately, finding parking is not always easy. According to a Fleet Owner article, it's often difficult for truck drivers to find safe, legal parking places on Florida highways.
That lack of parking capacity isn't just a problem for the trucking industry; it's a safety risk for everyone else on the road. When there is no legal space available, some truckers resort to illegally parking on ramp shoulders, in vacant lots or on the interstate mainline itself. Those illegally parked trucks are a physical hazard to motorists who are legally using those roads.
Other truckers may simply drive on, unable to stop, and take the risk of falling asleep at the wheel. Those exhausted drivers are at serious risk of causing catastrophic truck accidents.
Poor utilization of parking capacity is at the root of the problem
According to a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) study cited in the Fleet Owner article, the biggest problem statewide is an imbalance of truck parking capacity. That is, some truck stops and other parking locations are overflowing with trucks, while others are underutilized.
This means that in order to find safe places to park, truck drivers need to spend a significant portion of their service hours looking for available parking spaces. That's at odds with the trucking companies' profit motive, which is to utilize as much of that time as possible to move goods rather than look for parking.
FDOT is in the process of installing a Truck Parking Availability System (TPAS) on several major interstate highways in our state, including I-10 and I-95 in the Jacksonville area. This new system should help truck drivers find parking more efficiently and comply with hours of service regulations, improving safety for truckers and motorists alike.
Trucking companies need to prioritize safety over profits
In the meantime, however, the ongoing issues with parking certainly do not absolve the trucking companies of responsibility. Truck drivers face significant pressure from their employers to maximize the amount of time they devote to moving cargo, not finding parking so that they can rest - and that dangerous attitude will not change simply because of the new system. In order to keep both truckers and the driving public safe, the trucking companies need to commit to prioritizing safety, not profit.
For over 40 years, the truck accident attorneys at The Law Firm of Pajcic & Pajcic have been representing victims of the trucking companies' negligence in the Jacksonville area and throughout Florida. We've seen firsthand the devastating impact of accidents caused by illegally parked trucks as well as exhausted truckers, and we're committed to helping victims recover and holding the trucking companies accountable.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, don't try to take on the trucking company alone. Contact the attorneys Jacksonville has trusted for decades to handle these complex cases. Call (888) 972-6649