New Jersey bill would aid truck parking

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/28/2015

As states await the federal government to complete a truck parking survey, two New Jersey state lawmakers are pursuing changes to rules on parking alongside roads and ramps and to make additional truck parking spaces available.

Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson of Mercer/Middlesex and John Wisniewski of Middlesex have introduced a bill to require the state’s transportation commissioner to analyze the shortage of parking available for large trucks on state highways.

A3918 would require the commissioner to determine the number and location of additional parking spaces necessary to reduce the number of trucks parked on the shoulders of highways in the state by 75 percent.

The bill would also require a list to be put together of projects that will make additional parking available for trucks or publicize the availability of existing parking along state highways.

Benson and Wisniewski wrote about recent studies that have shown there is not enough parking available to drivers where they can safely stop to rest.

“As a result, commercial motor vehicle drivers often find themselves in a position where they have few options than to park on the shoulder, causing a public safety hazard.”

The Legislature would be responsible for appropriating from revenues and other funds of the state’s Transportation Trust Fund Authority the amount needed to complete the projects.

Standards would also be changed for how a vehicle should be parked or left standing on a roadway.

New Jersey law now authorizes a driver to park along a roadway if a “clear and unobstructed width” of at least 15 feet is available for other vehicles to pass. In addition, a vehicle can only be parked if a clear view up to 200 feet in each direction is available.

The bill awaiting consideration in the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee would increase the distances to 20 feet and 300 feet, respectively.

Offenders would face fines starting at $100. Subsequent violations would start at $250.

One more change would set a separate violation for parking or leaving a vehicle standing on the shoulder of an exit ramp on a state highway, or within 1,000 feet of an entry or exit ramp at $100 for first-time offenders and $250 for repeat offenders.

The Federal Highway Administration continues to work on a truck parking survey as directed in the current highway law. The provision on truck parking is known as “Jason’s Law.”

Jason’s Law, named after slain truck driver Jason Rivenburg, directs the FHWA to conduct a study to evaluate the capability of states to provide adequate parking, assess truck traffic and to develop a system to measure the adequacy of parking.

Officials at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association urge states to develop a system to best provide truckers with information about available safe truck parking locations, especially in situations where an available rest area may be full.

“Low-cost signage that can inform an out-of-area trucker that parking is available a few miles down the road can help a trucker park in a safe location instead of on the shoulder of a highway,” said Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs.

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