State Lawmaker Pushes Plan to Help Alleviate Truck Parking Shortage
Tupelo, MS – A Mississippi lawmaker is pushing a plan that would allow big rigs to park overnight at state operated weigh stations as a way to alleviate the widespread parking shortage.
Republican state legislator Rep. Jerry Turner is urging the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) to drop its ban on overnight parking at scale houses.
In an interview with the Daily Journal, Rep. Turner said the lack of truck parking presents a significant safety issue for truckers and the motoring public.
“One night I came by where the truck stop is at Belden. Both ramp sides had trucks lined up, coming off and on the entrance ramp,” Turner said. “Truckers were there sleeping. That’s not the safest thing in the world, and the truckers don’t like it.”
Northern District Transportation Commissioner John Caldwell told the Daily Journal Turner’s plan is receiving serious consideration by lawmakers, but legislation is likely not needed to enact the change.
However, some are pointing out that allowing truckers to park overnight at weigh stations will do little to solve the growing problem.
“Our biggest dilemma is space,” Caldwell said. “Because we didn’t build for it, it’d be pretty limited benefit. Some of these places in Florida, they have 20 truck spaces. We don’t have weigh scales with 20 spaces available. So it’d be a pretty limited benefit.”
Many truckers expressed gratitude about these parking relief measures at the time.
Still, the nationwide parking shortage continues to worsen.
In fact, it is cited as one of the biggest problems facing truckers and the trucking industry in surveys each year.
Transportation Nation Network frequently reports on violence erupting between truckers at truck stops over parking disputes.
Headlines like “Trucker Arrested for Attempted Homicide After Stabbing Driver in Parking Space Dispute,” and “Trucker Indicted in Brutal Stabbing of Fellow Trucker in Truck Stop Parking Fight” are all too common.
In February of last year, a security guard at a TravelCenters of America in Oklahoma City shot a trucker during a confrontation over an unpaid parking space and another security officer at a Love’s in Memphis threatened to shoot a trucker in a similar dispute in May.
Despite these realities, most state and federal lawmakers are simply not providing many solutions.
The Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) continues to make securing federal funding for more truck parking a top priority.
OOIDA is urging U.S. Rep. Mike Bost (R-Illinois) to once again sponsor and build support for the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act (TPSIA).
TPSIA seeks more than $750 million to be set aside over five years for the construction of new rest areas and truck parking facilities.
TransportationNation.com will continue to bring you the latest on this crucial issue.