by: Tracy Zafian, Research Fellow
Statistics have shown that truck driver fatigue is often a contributing factor in truck crashes. A truck driver was killed in a fatal multi-vehicle collision on Interstate 91 in Massachusetts near the Connecticut state line on January 20, 2018. This crash included two tractor-trailers and 4 cars and driver fatigue may have been a contributing cause.
Attention to the need for safe parking and rest areas for commercial truck drivers has grown since the 2012 passage of Jason’s Law, federal legislation in honor of Jason Rivenburg, a truck driver who was killed while pulled over to rest at an abandoned gas station. As discussed in a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) report, after Jason’s death, his spouse Hope Rivenburg sponsored a study on truck driver’s parking needs. Among the study’s key findings:
- 39% percent of the drivers responding take 1 hour or longer to find parking.
- 53% of drivers regularly use a commercial truck stop for rest and 20% regularly use a rest area. Other options used regularly include shipper/receiver location (20%), on/off ramp (8%), abandoned lot/isolated area (10%), and behind a shopping center (11%).
- 88% of drivers reported feeling unsafe while parked during mandatory rest or waiting for pickup or delivery of a load over the previous 12 months.
FHWA is working to address this issue. After its passage, Jason’s Law was incorporated into the MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century) transportation funding bill, and a thorough analysis of truck parking needs was conducted.
Safety and economic impacts of inadequate parking for Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) were evaluated in a recent study conducted at Oregon State University (OSU). The study looked at crashes on U.S. Highway 97, which runs north-south across the state, over a 7-year period. The main finding was that at-fault truck crashes resulted in approximately $75 million of “crash harm.” The researchers estimated that at-fault truck crashes resulted from factors such as driver fatigue which can result from inadequate truck parking options. Researchers found a high need for more safe truck parking, both in Oregon, on Highway 97, and elsewhere. Federal law restricts drivers from being behind the wheel for more than 11 hours at a time and requires them to park and rest for at least 10 hours before driving again.
Information on the OSU study was based on this Science Daily news report.