In this issue, we are introducing a new column titled “Off the Network,” written especially for Land Line by OOIDA members Don and Debbe Morrow, authors of “For the Long Haul, A State-to-State Guide for Professional Drivers.” “Off the Network,” of course, refers to driving off the national network, or designated truck routes. The federal government has left the regulations off the national network up to the individual states. Each state is concerned about its own regulations and has little or no interest in what other states are doing. The only place this information is critical is in the driver’s seat of a truck.
Our intent is to bring you an interesting column that you can clip and save for reference on the road. For easy reference, each column will focus on one state or one subject at a time. This first column, as an example, will focus on the subject of 10-hour breaks in rest areas. With the new hours-of-service rules going into effect this January, it is important to understand which states allow 10-hour rest-area stops and which do not.
About Don and Debbe Morrow
Don started driving commercial vehicles in 1971. Coming from a farm background, driving trucks seemed a natural next step.
Over the years, Don has been involved with several industries, including manufacturing, farming and construction. During this time, he stayed active with material handling and driving. Don ended up back on the road pulling flatbed and curtain-side trailers, responding to his need to see what is over the next hill.
Don is also the co-author of “For the Long Haul,” a state-by-state guide for professional drivers. Currently, Don is teaching truck driving at a tech school in Wisconsin and operating a publishing company, publishing books for professional drivers.
Debbe also comes from a farm background and has plenty of experience around big equipment (and is a pretty good mechanic in her own right). Debbe, who has worked in customer service for years, joined Don the last four years he drove over the road. The time on the road gave Debbe the opportunity to research the information used in “For the Long Haul,” the book she co-wrote with Don.
Debbe is also involved with each group of new drivers at the tech school, helping them prepare for life on the road.
So where can you park to take your mandatory 10-hour breaks?
Every night at countless truck stops across the country, a beautiful ballet takes place.
Drivers repeatedly circle around truck stops unwillingly playing a serious game of musical chairs. Each trucker is looking for that elusive parking spot. When your schedule allows you to stop early enough to secure your own spot, you are in for an interesting show as evening arrives. The truck stop ballet is where the trucks of the road are maneuvered with grace and precision that is amazing to watch as tired drivers look for a safe place to rest.
The ballet may be a beautiful thing to watch, but it is not the least bit enjoyable to be a participant. All you need to do is turn on your CB radio to realize the frustration level of the drivers.
With the mandatory rest period changing from eight to 10 hours, even more pressure will be put on drivers to find that elusive safe parking spot. We can read all the government reports indicating there is no overall shortage of available parking, but the reports don’t hold water when you need only one spot and there aren’t any to be found.
Based on available numbers, we will continue to utilize truck stops for our primary long-term parking. Another option worth investigating is the use of public parking.
Public parking in the form of ramp parking is not safe and is not recommended. Some states tolerate this practice. If you decide ramp parking is for you, please remember it is safer to park on the entrance ramp, not the exit ramp (drivers are moving slower). Some states do allow parking at closed weigh stations. Refer to map for weigh station parking.
Although rest areas are intended for short rest periods, we were surprised to find that 23 states will allow parking for up to 10 hours. Even though parking 10 hours may be allowed in these states, it doesn’t mean enough parking spaces are available. Most of the states we approached were outspoken that parking was allowed in marked spaces only. Parking anywhere else will draw the negative attention of law enforcement. Refer to map for state rest-area parking limits.
Some states deserve a “rose” for their efforts to support drivers’ rest. Kentucky has built impressive “rest havens.” Iowa and Wyoming maintain truck-parking-only areas. Missouri and OOIDA collaborated to establish truck parking at a closed public facility on I-70. On the other end of the spectrum are states such as our home state of Wisconsin, which closes rest areas and removes them instead of leaving the area for truck parking. In Montana, they close several of their rest areas for the winter months.
If we were migrating wildlife, any change as significant as the hours of service would have an environmental impact study done. Does that mean if we were ducks, someone would make us a place to land?
Have a safe trip and enjoy the ride.
Don and Debbe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.