Illegal Truck Stops Can Cause Accidents and Endanger Lives
If you’ve ever seen a truck parked for the night in the emergency shoulder area of a highway, you might have wondered what special law exists that gives truckers the right to park there and rest.
The answer: There is no such law, and truckers aren’t allowed to park in the highway shoulder any more than a typical car or truck driver. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop scores of truck drivers from pulling over at unsanctioned locations throughout the country each night to create makeshift (and completely illegal) truck stops.
Although a truck driver pulling over for some shuteye might seem harmless or even praiseworthy at first, these illegal truck stops create headaches for authorities and can pose a serious hazard to other drivers on the road.
Highway Stretch in Mahwah, New Jersey, Shows the Problems that Illegal Truck Stops Can Create
Many illegal truck stops pop up in random locations when a fatigued driver decides to pull over for the night on a whim; eventually, another trucker or two pulls up to join them. However, some areas deal with illegal truck stop “hotspots” that seem to attract a flock of tired truckers night after night.
One such stop exists in the town of Mahwah, New Jersey, on the highway shoulder along a stretch of Interstate 287, where authorities have said that they often find up to 20 big-rig trucks parked illegally. Truckers continue to park along this stretch despite signs, ticketing campaigns, and police patrols that are all intended to stamp out the unlawful behavior.
“Welcome along and move them, but an hour later, they’re back,” Mahwah Chief of Police James Batelli told the news website NJ.com last year. “We can’t continue to allocate resources [to this problem] every night.”
Residents in the area dislike the noise from the trucks, but the bigger issue is the danger that the illegal truck stop poses to motorists. If a passenger vehicle breaks down or gets into a crash along this stretch, the driver will have no safe place to pull over, as the shoulder is already crammed with tractor-trailer trucks.
Not only that, but the makeshift stop along a winding stretch of highway creates a significant crash risk for other drivers, especially in low-visibility or slippery conditions. One driver died on this span of highway in 2015 when he crashed into the rear-end of a truck that was illegally parked on the shoulder, and another driver died the same way in April 2017. Local authorities say they fear more injuries and fatalities in the future if they can’t get rid of the problem.
Arguments in Defense of Illegal Stops Don’t Hold Up
Many truckers defend illegal truck stops by saying that, thanks to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, they have no choice but to stop driving once they’ve been on the road for 11 hours — wherever and whenever that occurs.
The reality, though, is that trucking companies are responsible for planning their routes with FMCSA regulations in mind, and there should be no need for illegal stops along a properly-planned route. These stops only become necessary when irresponsible companies, acting in the interest of extra profit, create unfeasible route plans that leave truckers with no choice but to violate either FMCSA regulations or state and local traffic ordinances.
Unfortunately, in the absence of stricter regulations and more consistent enforcement of the law, trucking companies will continue to prioritize revenue over safety, which means that illegal truck stops will remain a fixture on our highways and a potentially deadly hazard for drivers on the road.
Contact the Seattle Truck Law Team If You’ve Been Injured in a Trucking Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident due to an illegally-parked truck or any other form of negligence, the Seattle Truck Law team at the Law Offices of Morgan Adams is here to stand up for your rights and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. With years of experience and a sole focus on commercial vehicle cases, Seattle Truck Law Attorney Morgan Adams has the skill and experience required to help you navigate the complex legal issues surrounding a trucking accident.
Please contact Seattle Truck Law at (866) 580-4878 or fill out our online contact form if you need advice and help after a large truck crash. We offer free consultations to help you gain a better understanding of your legal options, and we handle cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you won’t pay for fees or case expenses unless we achieve a financial recovery for you.
Hanley, R. (1994, November 13). Dozing on the shoulders can be deadly. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1994/11/13/nyregion/dozing-on-the-shoulders-can-be-deadly.html
Pinto, F.G. (2016, August 17). Illegal North Jersey truck stop has to go, town says. NJ.com. Retrieved from https://www.nj.com/bergen/index.ssf/2016/08/help_us_get_rid_of_illegal_north_jersey_truck_stop_town_urges_state.html
Wright, P. (2017, May 1). Driver killed on Route 287 after hitting parked truck. GannetNJ.com. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/05/01/driver-killed-after-striking-tractor-trailer-kinnelon-road-shoulder/101147342/
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.