Want Fewer Truck Accidents? Give Drivers a Place to Sleep

Truck Accidents in North DakotaAt the end of a long day – or even in the middle of one – truck drivers, like everyone, need a place to sleep. This is not just a suggestion, but the law. Long-haul truckers are required to take rest and sleep breaks regularly in order to prevent fatigued truck drivers on the road. Have you ever wondered where exactly these truckers take their sleep breaks?

Sleeper cabs are the most common type of sleeping arrangement for drivers – especially those who spend several days on the road. These cabs are small rooms located behind the driver’s seat and contain things like a bed, television set, microwave, and other small comforts. Typically, sleeper cabs do not come with a bathroom or shower, leaving truck drivers to utilize those at truck and rest stops.

CloudTrucks offers some fast facts about truckers and sleeper cabs:

Where a truck driver sleeps is dependent on several factors, including which career path a truck driver has selected (over the road, regional, or local), and the type of truck they drive (one with a sleeper berth or one without, known as a day cab).

Thus, long-haul drivers have a sleeping cab while local drivers do not as they are home by the end of the work day. This type of truck is commonly referred to as a day cab.

Due to regulations related to sleeper berths and required rest, if a local driver happens to be on an extended trip, where they are required to be away from home a day or two, they are not permitted to sleep in their day cab trucks. Usually, their company will arrange for them to stay at a motel in these rare instances. This is because truck drivers are required to take a break after driving for 10 hours straight.

Where do truckers sleep?

Per CloudTrucks, “When their shift is over and it’s time to park for the night, drivers have several options for a place to park. The safe options are rest areas (also known as rest stops), truck stops (also known as travel plazas), a company terminal if one is available, and in some instances, at a customer’s facility.”

Truckers are urged to park only in designated truck/rest stops and to ensure their doors are locked.

What happens if a truck driver can’t find a place to sleep?

CloudTrucks published a survey this past March about truckers and parking. What they found was that most Americans did not know there is a nationwide shortage of parking for long-haul truckers. CloudTrucks reports:

There is currently a shortage of parking for long-haul truck drivers in the United States. This is due to several factors, including an increase in the number of trucks on the road, limited space for parking, and restrictive regulations on where trucks can park overnight. The shortage has led to safety concerns as drivers are often forced to park in unsafe or illegal locations, leading to accidents and fines. Additionally, the lack of parking has led to increased stress and fatigue for drivers, which can negatively impact their performance and safety on the road. According to a report by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the shortage of truck parking is a top concern for the industry. ATRI’s survey found that nearly 63% of drivers reported having difficulty finding safe and legal parking, with over 90% saying that the shortage of parking had a negative impact on their quality of life on the road. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that there is a nationwide shortage of more than 40,000 truck parking spaces.

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When asked if they could connect trucking safety to a lack of trucker parking, 41% of respondents noted they have experienced trucks parked on the side of the road, making it unsafe to pass. Another 38% stated they had seen trucks with drivers who appeared drowsy or even falling asleep at the wheel. As you can see, this lack of parking can set the stage for catastrophic truck accidents.

CloudTrucks further reports, “Once made aware of the shortage, respondents showed overwhelming support for government action to address the issue. 90% of those surveyed said that federal, state, and/or local governments should devote more funding to the problem, with most (57%) recommending that the federal government serve as a source of funds.

Even with this knowledge, however, the majority of respondents stated they would not want overnight parking facilities close to their homes. “Only 15% said they are comfortable with facilities being within 2 miles of their homes.”

The Truck Park Safety Improvement Act

The Truck Park Safety Improvement Act, currently before Congress, is a bill that would provide funding to create thousands of safe parking spots for trucks. The bill would also improve existing truck parking areas. The bill was reintroduced in March 2023 by U.S. Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and would authorize $755 million in competitive grants over the 2024-2026 period. The Department of Transportation would provide grants to build or improve public parking facilities for commercial motor vehicles.

The bill would also convert existing weigh stations and rest areas into parking spaces for truck drivers.

Said Todd Spencer, President of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association:

Most folks probably don’t realize that 70% of American freight is transported by truck, yet incredibly there is only 1 parking spot for every 11 trucks on the road. When truck drivers don’t have a designated place to park, they end up parking on the side of the road, near exit ramps, or elsewhere. This isn’t safe for the driver and it’s not safe for others on the road. Senator Lummis, Senator Kelly, Representative Bost, and Representative Craig have heard from small business truckers across America and are leading the charge in Congress to improve road safety through expanded truck parking.

Were you or a loved one injured in a truck accident? The skilled North Dakota personal injury attorneys at Larson Law Firm, PC are here to help. To talk to us about your accident and find out how we can work to secure you compensation for your accident, schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney. We represent all clients injured in accidents, including injured truck drivers. Call our offices or complete our contact form today. We handle accident cases on a contingency fee basis. We have offices in Fargo, Bismarck, and Minot.