Despite making claims that North Carolina needs “fewer journalists and lawyers and more truck drivers and technical workers”, Governor Pat McCrory allegedly allowed himself to be swayed by a campaign donor into using the Highway Patrol to enforce a policy to keep napping truckers off of I-77 in the northwestern part of the state.
Aggressive Enforcement of No Parking Law
The North Carolina Highway Patrol has been aggressively targeting truck drivers parked on the on and off ramps of I-77 around exit 93 to enforce an “obscure” no parking law — General Statute 20-140.3(5), which states that it is illegal to “stop, park or leave standing any vehicle” on the right-of-way of a highway.
The language of the law can be interpreted to include the shoulders of the on and off ramps, where many truck drivers are forced to park when they are out of hours and facing truck parking shortages at commercial truck stops and rest areas. One truck driver who was ticketed by a trooper said, “I told him: You know that fatigued driving is a hazard on the road. There was nowhere for me to park. He told me I should have planned better.”
The troopers are handing out tickets amounting to over $200 for illegal parking. The troopers wrote just 70 tickets for illegal parking last year. This year, 261 tickets have been issued in June, July, and August alone.
Enhanced Enforcement Allegedly Stems From Complaints From Campaign Donor
Other truck drivers report that the troopers have been apologetic and that they say they have been ordered to patrol the I-77 on and off ramps.
The enhanced truck parking enforcement comes after numerous complaints to Governor McCrory’s office from one of his donors and long time supporter, 80-year-old Charlie Shelton. Shelton owns a vineyard in Dobson, North Carolina, but claims that his professional stake in keeping truck traffic off the road has nothing to do with his complaints about truck parking. Instead, he said that truck parking is “unsightly. It’s against the law to park a tractor-trailer and go to sleep there and throw your trash out on the road.“
A Highway Patrol memo confirmed that the I-77 parking enforcement effort was a response to complaints funneled to them from McCrory’s office.
Governor McCrory signed a proclamation honoring truck drivers during Truck Driver Appreciation week in September.