Tennessee bill covers truck parking rules along roadways

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/23/2015

If a Tennessee state lawmaker gets his way, large trucks would be permitted to park along entrance ramps for hours at a time.

Rep. Kelly Keisling, R-Byrdstown, has introduced a bill that would authorize truckers to stop, park or leave the vehicle on the shoulder of ramps along any highway for up to 12 hours.

The bill states that parking on ramps would be permitted as long as “it is not practicable to stop, park or so leave the vehicle off the shoulder of the highway; and the vehicle does not obstruct the passage of other motor vehicles.”

State troopers would determine the practicability of parking off the highway.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation reports there are 1,000 entrance ramps around the state that are able to facilitate truck parking. The agency also reports the cost to repair shoulders of ramps where damages have been caused by large vehicles parked along the side is in excess of $23,000.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, has said the lack of truck parking available in Tennessee and other states creates legitimate public safety issues for motorists and truckers.

“Truckers do not park on shoulders or entry or exit ramps by choice – they do so only if there is not a safe and viable alternative,” Matousek said.

The bill, HB209, awaits consideration in the House Transportation Committee. The Senate version, SB353, is in the Senate Transportation and Safety Committee.

Some help is on the way for truckers looking for a place to park while traveling along the Interstate 75 corridor in East Tennessee. TDOT has activated a system that assesses truck parking availability at two spots along the corridor and “delivers real-time parking availability information to truck drivers.”

The project, dubbed SmartPark, is federally funded by the Federal Highway Administration. It allows truckers to make reservations to park when spots are available.

To aid professional drivers looking for a spot to rest, TDOT is using multiple methods to share parking availability information. The methods include dynamic roadside truck parking signs, the SmartPark website and smartphone app.

Specifically, two sites along I-75 will take part in the program. One study site is already opened on the northbound side of the interstate at the rest area near mile marker 45 in the Athens area. Another site nearing completion is along the northbound lanes near mile marker 23 in the Cleveland area.

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