Indiana ramps up ramp parking fines

| 4/19/2005

Indiana law-enforcement officials won’t be doing anything to ease the state’s truck parking crisis, but they will issue you a bigger ticket when you can’t find a legal parking spot.

On May 1, the Indiana State Patrol will raise fines for parking along interstate highways to $500, up from the current ticket cost of $80 to $150, depending on the county. State officials said the increase is designed to keep commercial vehicles from parking on roadsides and on- and off-ramps.

“This has been a longtime issue we’ve been trying to resolve,” said Maj. Ed Reuter, commander of the Indiana State Police’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division. “There’s a lot of people who think that we’re adversaries of the trucking industry, and we’re not – we want to work with them.”

Besides citing complaints from residents along interstates who say the trucks create a safety risk by limiting visibility for passenger vehicles, Reuter said truckers have left some unwanted parting gifts behind after their departure.

“Our people are finding urine bottles and human waste and trash, and the ramps are breaking down, “ Reuter said. “We felt that we needed to make this thing more of a public issue, to bring it to their attention and educate them, because come May 1, we’re going to start citing them for the illegal parking.”

Additionally, Reuter said drivers who are ticketed for ramp parking may also face Level II or Level III inspections of their rigs.

The added fine does not bode well for truckers already taxed to find parking in the state. According to a 2002 study on commercial truck parking by the Federal Highway Administration, Indiana was classified as having a shortage of available spots, ranking 39th out of all 50 states for available truck parking.

The lack of parking is compounded by the lukewarm reception truckers are receiving at the state’s rest areas. Steve McAvoy, facilities management director for operations support division of the Indiana DOT, said that although the state doesn’t have a policy prohibiting overnight parking, it’s not encouraged.

“The way we kind of look at it now is that if they don’t park there, they (truckers) are going to be a safety hazard driving on the interstate tired,” McAvoy said. “We basically kind of have to let them stay there.”

To help inform drivers, Reuter said the state police are partnering with media outlets to get the word out about the stiffened penalties, and may begin posting information on the large electronic signs located over the interstate. So far, he has already seen the ramp-parking situation improve. However, he said his organization had no intention of adding or looking into adding commercial truck parking spaces

“That (lack of parking in the state) could be an issue, but it’s going to be a point where they need to study the routes. The burden is going to be on the driver to try to find it,” Reuter said. “They (the drivers) will make do; they’ll find places. Just don’t use the ramps is all we’re asking.

“We feel that we can educate them, and once we educate them, we feel that they’re really on their own.”

– By Aaron Ladage, staff writer