Oregon State University recently studied the high economic cost of having too few safe places for commercial truck drivers to park and rest along Highway 97 through central Oregon.
Study Cites Millions Of Dollars Worth of “Crash-Harm” Caused By Lack Of Parking
They reported that , “Over a seven-year period on one 290-mile stretch of highway alone [U.S. Highway 97], at-fault truck crashes resulted in approximately $75 million of “crash harm.”
The study reveals that truck drivers not having enough places to park and rest is a contributing factor to a large number of crashes along the highway.
Salvador Hernandez, a transportation safety and logistics researcher at Oregon State, said, “Current crash data collection forms don’t have an explicit section for truck-parking-related crashes, but we can operate under the assumption that specific types of at-fault truck crashes, such as those due to fatigue, may be the result of inadequate parking.”
Hernandez and his graduate research assistant Jason Anderson studied Oregon’s portion of U.S. Highway 97. This portion runs the entire north-south distance of the state along the eastern slope of the Cascade Range.
“Jason’s Law”, which is a law that allocates federal funding to truck parking, was a contributing factor to the Oregon State Univerity’s study.
According to EurekAlert, “Jason’s Law is named for truck driver Jason Rivenburg, who was robbed and fatally shot in South Carolina in 2009 after pulling off to rest at an abandoned gas station.”
The law requires drivers to park and rest after 11 hours of driving. They must rest for at least 10 hours before they can drive again.
Study Highlights The Need For More CMV Parking
“Around the country, commercial drivers are often unable to find safe and adequate parking to meet hours-of-service regulations,” Hernandez said. “This holds true in Oregon, where rest areas and truck stops in high-use corridors have a demand for truck parking that exceeds capacity. That means an inherent safety concern for all highway users, primarily due to trucks parking in undesignated areas or drivers exceeding the rules to find a place to park.”
The study also surveyed 200 truck drivers about the demand for parking along Highway 97. The study also analyzed crash data to identify trends and hot spots for accidents.
“Crash trends in terms of time of day, a day of the week, and month of the year follow the time periods drivers stated having trouble finding places to park,” Hernandez added. “In Oregon, if we do nothing to address the problem and freight-related traffic continues to grow, we’ll face greater truck parking shortages. A possible solution is finding ways to promote public-private partnerships, the state working together with industry.”
Hernandez also commented on the increase in autonomous truck research in recent months.
“There are many issues yet to be worked out with autonomous commercial motor vehicles,” he said, “and even if autonomous commercial motor vehicles become commonplace, we’re still going to need truck drivers in some capacity. For now and in the foreseeable future, we need truck drivers and safe and adequate places for the drivers to park and rest.”
He plainly states that the solution to driver fatigue is not to abandon truck drivers by replacing them with self-driving trucks, but rather to invest in more parking areas and spots for truck drivers to rest.
The financial cost to repair roadways and other damage caused by large truck crashes is estimated to be higher than the cost of providing drivers with more parking space. These preventative measures not only could save state funding but more importantly could save lives.
To read more about autonomous truck driving click here.
The sleep and rest schedules of truck drivers have become a hot topic recently as Trump halted a year-old effort to seek better ways to diagnose truckers and railroad workers who have sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a health condition commonly linked to deadly accidents on the road. Rather, the federal government chose to focus efforts on addressing fatigue risk management, according to the Insurance Journal.
Oregon State University’s study highlighting the complete lack of sufficient parking, and sufficient safe parking, hopes to launch further efforts to correct this life-threatening problem.