Most news stories about trucking accidents on Twin Cities highways involve a truck crashing into a passenger vehicle. But a growing number of truck crashes are happening when the 18-wheeler is not even in motion.
CBS News reports that a rising number of drivers are crashing into semis parked on the shoulder of exit ramps, highway shoulders and the edges of access roads. Truckers are reportedly parking in these locations because of a massive shortage of parking for commercial trucks. Instead of parking in lots away from busy highways, truckers are pulling over right on the edge of traffic — and exposing everyone else to grave danger.
Thousands of injuries
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, about 4,000 people were injured by collisions with trucks parked on the side of the road in 2020. Another 55 were killed that year. These crashes often happen at night, when lack of light can make 18-wheelers hard to see until it’s too late.
In one example, a man was killed in July when he crashed his pickup into the rear of a semi parked on a service road. It was late and the truck did not have its lights on. The man only tried to brake seconds before impact, suggesting that he could not see the truck in his path.
Why are truckers parking on the road?
The trucking industry claims that its drivers must park in unsafe spots because there is only one off-road parking space per 11 semis on the road. The U.S. Department of Transportation is providing grants to several states to pay for additional truck parking lots, and a bill in Congress would provide an additional $755 million in funding.
Even when they cannot find a conventional place to park, a trucker owes a duty to others on the road to separate themselves from traffic as much as possible and make their vehicle reasonably visible. A driver who fails to live up to this duty could be liable for resulting injuries, as could their trucking company.