Thursday, August 18, 2016

Missing the point

More often than I like to admit, I come across articles from the mainstream media that attempt to explain local issues with truck parking. Few get it right. Some never mention hours-of-service regulations. Others do not even realize the parking capacity issues despite federal attention in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.

A recent truck parking story on NJ.com managed to fire up all cylinders regarding truck parking. Although the journalist did cover many of the major talking points regarding the issue, he let the people he interviewed highlight everything that is wrong with the situation. It was a good technique.

The story is about trucks parked along the shoulder of Interstate 287 in Mahwah, N.J., and how law enforcement and the city are getting fed up with it. As one would imagine, truckers told a completely different story.

Mahwah Chief of Police James Batelli complained about wasting resources on a revolving door of trucks parking on the shoulder. Batelli blamed the state, but not in terms of parking. Rather, he wished the state would do more engineering studies to make shoulders less dangerous, completely missing the point.

When NJ.com reached out to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the agency noted that they have not heard from Mahwah officials. This lack of communication is something I reported on when covering North Bend’s parking issue in Washington State. NJDOT then stated there are several private rest stops throughout the state and that it is illegal to stop on the shoulder. Again, the point flies right by.

And check out this excerpt from the article:

“Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet argues that truckers choose the 287 shoulder for ease, instead of taking the time to get on and off Route 17.”

Yeah, he totally accuses truckers of being lazy rather than acknowledging a potential issue with a lack of parking, thus missing the point. In his defense, Laforet did mention truckers need a place to park but the price of real estate makes that difficult.

Meanwhile, a trucker interviewed by NJ.com pointed out the problem with hours of service and running out of time to find a legal spot. The South Dakota driver took it a step further and mentioned if you don’t arrive at a truck stop by 1 or 2 p.m. in New York or New Jersey, good luck finding a spot.

In other words, truckers don’t want to park along the shoulder as much as law enforcement or the mayor think they do, but they have no option. That is the point.

The Jason’s Law truck parking survey supports this point. New Jersey ranked at the very top of the list of states with parking shortages. An Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association member who lives in Mahwah and wished to remain anonymous confirmed this. He told Land Line that there is virtually no parking in the area. He mentioned that the two truck stops in town have very few parking spaces.

The silver lining: In a follow-up article, the mayor of Mahwah seemed to get the point. He had reached out to NJDOT and urged them to do something. A similar situation happened in North Bend, Wash., after communication had broken down between the city and state. NJDOT’s response: “…the department had nothing to add to their original statement that it is unlawful to stop on a highway unless for an emergency.”

This was in NJDOT’s original statement: “It's important to remember that it is unlawful to stop on the shoulders of state highways except for emergencies, which makes this a law enforcement issue.”

At least everyone else got the point.

5 comments:

  1. Everybody wants the stuff, but nobody wants us! Drop your load and get out of my TOWN! We don't want your kind here! Don't like trucks, STOP buying Stuff, PROBLEM solved.

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  2. Solution to the problem is easy, Jack the freight rates up to these areas that don't want to fix the problem. When they start paying more for their goods and products perhaps it may open some eyes! We all know the freight going in to the northeast pays slightly better than that which comes back out. In order to haul the products out, there should be a parking fee sent to the shipper for having to drag a truck into their area. You want your freight moved, it's going to cost you extra until you contribute to the parking problems. Either pay the fee or build some parking for the truck traffic that you expect to come in!

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  3. NJ is the armpit of new England.

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    Replies
    1. North NJ. Southern NJ is a different state (in the opinion of this southern NJ resident)!

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  4. I've had to travel 173 miles to find a parking spot knowing there's a HUGE shortage to find myself going to truck stop to truck stop, Walmart to Walmart, rest area to rest area, to have to park on the I78 E shoulder due to my HOS and getting poor sleep all night. If parking is available, rush hour commute times would be at least 25% reduced for people trying to get to and from work. If we start pointing this out, then the light would go on because they don't want traffic and they don't like trucks or getting behind one. Thus is solving the issue in all metropolitan areas and cities across America!

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