Unsafe Parked Trucks

This document examines the truck parking issues in the U.S. but should be applicable to decrease parked truck fatalities in any country, sub-standard underride guards and trucks and trailers with poor conspicuity are a problem around the world!


Quote from the Wall Street Journal:

“The FHA found that one of the most critical issues cited by law enforcement and safety regulators in the study is the dilemma they face when they encounter trucks parked—often illegally—on road shoulders.”

“Police know the reason is often that the trucker got tired or ran out of his 11 hours of drive time but couldn’t find a parking place. “A driver sleeping in a truck parked on the side of a highway may be more of a danger if he or she is awakened and ordered to vacate the premises,” the study noted.”

This is the sad outcome that control of this issue has been given to trucking unions and parked truck victims are not allowed to be part of the conversation. It takes 5 seconds to place triangles and a minute or two to find a slow speed parking location. Any law enforcement officer allowing illegal parking on freeway ramps or high-speed locations should be cited for homicide if this activity more dangerous than drinking and driving results in deaths. This has been a problem for fifty years and the ATA and U.S. Government refuse to publicly provide safety guidance on this critical issue. Do not park on ramps or high-speed roadways, whenever parked or disabled place triangles or other safety devices. Stay out of the CRASH lane!

It is the responsibility of the shipper, receiver, and truck driver to pre-plan safe truck parking. Contact the receiver and establish best time for local parking, availability of spaces, does receiver have on-site parking and if not can this be accomplished for future regular shipments as part of cost of doing business. Contact local private parking and make sure spaces will be available upon your arrival. Know the location of nearby rest areas. In case of emergency, establish locations of safer lower speed roadways. Shipper, regular customer or route, buy parking location as part of doing business. Safety train to always place triangles and light hazard flashers. If you live in the big city you usually must buy or rent a parking space, businesses have the same responsibility. Never park or disable on high-speed roadways or shoulders, never if avoidable. It is never fatigue, illegal parking is always a dangerous choice, parking deaths are the most preventable trucking safety issue. It is never fatigue!



Safe parking tips:

Trucks should never be parked on high-speed roadways (above 25 mph or 40 km/h) unless disabled, studies have shown the severity of crashes increase from non-fatal to fatal at 25 mph (40 km/h) and above with the current stiff underride guards on U.S. trucks. Roadway parking should always be your choice of last resort!

From the Canadian Rear Guard Standard:

The department’s research also indicated that, for compact and sub-compact vehicles, the requirements of FMVSS 223 were unlikely to prevent underride and passenger compartment intrusion in collisions with speed differentials of 48 km/h (30 mph) or more. According to a study cited by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the severity of collisions involving underride shifts from non-fatal to fatal at speed differentials of 40 km/h (25 mph) and more, with no fatalities in collisions at relative speeds below 32 km/h (20 mph) and very few in the 32 km/h (20 mph) to 40 km/h (25 mph) range. Graph 1 indicates that collisions involving underride with speed differentials greater than 40 km/h (25 mph) are invariably fatal.

Furthermore, the data cited by the NHTSA indicate that, of the fatal rear- and side-impact collisions involving underride between passenger vehicles and trailers that were analyzed, only 30 percent occurred when the speed differential was 48 km/h (30 mph) or less. An additional 27 percent occurred when the differential was between 48 km/h (30 mph) and 56 km/h (35 mph), while the remaining 43 percent occurred at speed differentials greater than 56 km/h (35 mph). According to these data, the U.S. requirements governing rear impact guards do not address a significant proportion of the fatal collisions involving rear underride that would be survivable based on vehicle design alone.

Graph 1: Relative Distribution of the Incidence of Collisions as a Function of Speed Differential






Triangles should always be placed when parking or stopping on or near roadways both day and night.

Parking lights (Hazard Warning Flashers) should be lit (always with triangles due to “Moth to Flame Phenomenon”) whenever parking in non-daylight hours.

Trailers should never be parked facing oncoming traffic.

Never park in dark areas, street lighting can increase conspicuity.

Extra care should be taken when parking in adverse weather conditions.

Never park near corners or other obstructions to motorists view.

Do not park near driveways or side streets, trailers can obstruct the view of motorists entering the roadway.

Use rest areas to refresh.

Freeway ramps and shoulders: Stationary truck and trailer crashes present a greater risk of fatality due to the great speed differential of the moving and non-moving vehicle. A study in Virginia found 1 out of 2 shoulder parked crashes involved a fatality. Increased hazard from slow moving vehicle re-entering the traffic stream.

Ramp parking creates a risk to motor vehicles accelerating or decelerating to or from freeway ramps.

Pre-plan your trip to include at least two safe parking locations. Most commercial and company parking locations provide free parking that is safe and secure. Include these parking locations in your pre-trip plan and use them to save lives!

A statement by the captain of the ATA America’s Road Team in the February 14, 2000, issue of Transport Topics further underscores the need for information and planning. He had been on a 2-week roundtrip from Vermont to the West Coast and, because of his careful planning, was able to find parking each night. He said, “Less experienced drivers or drivers who work for carriers that put a lot of pressure on them [to reach their destination on time] tend to have trouble finding places to park.” (NTSB Special Investigation Report -Truck Parking Areas.)

Truck Stop Directories to assist in pre-trip planning:

http ://www.gocomchek.com/


Truck Driver education programs must improve their coverage of pre-trip planning topics to include using directories and other resources to choose multiple parking destinations in case the first choice would be full or inaccessible.

Stop and park to rest before fatigue sets in, never after!





Trailer facing oncoming traffic, disabling safety features such as tape and underride guards.






Parked on blind corner, triangles would at least provide some warning to unsuspecting motorists.

Fog disables tape and is deadly!






Modern tape is ineffective without car headlights, just after dawn and just prior to dusk.





Small delivery trucks must also park safely, would parking around the corner on a lower speed roadway require very much effort?







Too many have died or been injured in crashes with parked trucks. Safe parking costs nothing to implement, it is one of the most cost-effective safety improvements. Professional drivers include safe parking skills in the safe operation of their commercial vehicle. All Companies must include a zero-tolerance policy in their employee safety manual. Back this up with targeted and regular parking safety training and restatement of your company’s zero-tolerance policy.

Unsafe parking fatalities are not and should not be counted as fatigue related. This misconception has been used as an excuse for deliberate violation of U.S. Federal Parking Regulations. Parking victims have an absolute right to criminal prosecution for these deliberate acts of negligent homicide. It takes 10 minutes to find a low speed roadway for safe parking. It takes two minutes to light parking lamps and place triangles. The U.S. government must replace the critical laws designed to protect the American People from unsafe truck parking that were removed. CFR 392.21 banned trucks and buses from parking on the shoulder or the traveled portion of the roadway, the experts from the Highway Safety Deskbook tell us the State and local laws are not being enforced, we desperately need this Federal regulation reinstated. The portion of CFR 393.95 requiring safety triangles as equipment to be carried on modern trucks and buses saved thousands of lives. A truck driver when stopping to grab a piece of pizza will not place burning fusees on the roadway, with strong Federal enforcement of the triangle laws they might place triangles. The deaths and injuries from the removal of these critical life-saving laws must be tallied!

The U.S. Government has not counted the fatalities and injuries from unsafe truck parking. This is an insult to all those who lost their lives so needlessly and so violently. We the survivors and those who support us call on the Officials at the U.S. DOT to make an immediate public accounting of the thousands of deaths and injuries and assess the costs to the American People!

Federal truck parking law has never been enforced at the Federal level in the U.S., the U.S. DOT must immediately encourage enforcement of Federal Truck parking laws that have been adopted by the States by local law enforcement. Federal fines should be levied against those companies whose drivers violate these lifesaving laws. When a life is lost due to non-placement of triangles, or parking on a high-speed roadway there should be an automatic investigation and severe fines and penalties assessed against the driver and/or the company.

U.S. DOT CMV Enforcement Guide on Shoulder Parking and it’s failure to recommend enforcement of parking laws.

These violations are easy to recognize and enforce but seldom receive law enforcement attention. They are recognized as a major cause of fatalities and the U.S. DOT seems to give excuses for trucks violating these regulations in their law enforcement training guidelines rather than recommending strict enforcement to save lives! In fact, they recommend lending assistance and advice and do not once mention enforcement! They do not mention warning devices at all! One has to question the DOT’s statement that most unsafe parking occurs due to mechanical breakdown; this seems to be an excuse for the lack of enforcement rather than a statement of fact. “Drivers stopping on shoulders to shop for snacks” is an often-cited excuse after fatal crashes. Can tired drivers place warning devices? We think so, and it is time the U.S. DOT and law enforcement stop ignoring the dire consequences of non-enforcement.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Traffic Enforcement Guide DOT HS 809 422 July 2002

This guide is for law enforcement agencies to develop traffic safety programs to address serious moving violations committed by drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles.

Published by:

U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (Excerpt from the guide below):

Parking on the shoulder

Parking on the shoulder of controlled access or other roadways by CMV drivers can be a significant contributing factor to injury or fatal crashes. The main reason CMVs are parked on highway shoulders and other unsafe locations is mechanical breakdown. However, drivers are often in need of rest, particularly in the early morning hours, and may not know the locations of nearby rest areas or truck stops. Also, deliveries scheduled for early morning often cause a driver to park at the city limits or near the delivery point to wait for the delivery location to open. Many crashes involve vehicles striking trucks parked on the shoulder. Studies indicate that CMVs were involved in the major portion of these crashes and that they occurred primarily between midnight and 6 a.m. Alcohol involvement or fatigue were the two main causes noted. Officers should be aware of the potential for serious crashes associated with CMVs parking on highway shoulders. Providing assistance for disabled vehicles and informing drivers of safe parking areas will contribute to a reduction of CMV crashes.

The U.S. DOT must immediately do an official clarification of CFR 392.22 (the truck parking and triangle use law.) Many local courts and law enforcement agencies do not enforce this important safety regulation. Without clarification, a message decreasing the critical importance of this regulation has been sent to truckers and law enforcement.

Death by exemption: Allowing parking without safety devices within city limits during daylight is a tragedy waiting to happen. A majority of fatal crashes within the U.S. occur during daylight hours. Cities incorporate miles of very high speed roadways and enforcement may become lax due to this complication of the law.

Enforcement will only become consistent when a parked truck must place triangles or other safety devices at all times when parking on or near the roadway. The killer exemption must be removed!

(b)(2)(iii) Business or residential districts. The placement of warning devices is not required within the business or residential district of a municipality, except during the time lighted lamps are required and when street or highway lighting is insufficient to make a commercial motor vehicle clearly discernable at a distance of 500 feet to persons on the highway.

Many states have regulations that refer to the parking of disabled trucks, and truckers have claimed they needed to place warning devices only when broken down, not when parking voluntarily. These regulations cause confusion and unnecessary deaths. They have been used to increase costs or deny victim families justice in court for many years. Triangles must be placed in both emergency and non-emergency parking situations! States should immediately amend these laws to include non-emergency parking and end this contradiction to the Federal Regulations.

It is illegal in most, or possibly all states to park on the shoulder or traveled way of county roads, and it is certainly never a safe practice!

Trucks are 3.2 times more likely to be struck in the rear than cars in truck accidents.

Parking Safety News:

The University of Tennessee conducted nighttime observational studies at all public rest areas in Tennessee for each day of the week. Availability of space in commercial truck stops and travel plazas near interchanges was also examined. The results of the occupancy studies showed that the rest areas were overflowing with trucks at night, as evidenced by trucks parked along the shoulders of highway exit and entrance ramps as well as on

interchange ramps. While the rest areas were overflowing, approximately 30 percent of the private truck parking spaces were not occupied, and the unoccupied private parking spaces outnumbered the trucks parked along the highways by nearly three-to-one. To understand why some truck drivers park along the highway when there are available private parking spaces, in-depth interviews were held with drivers. The opinions of the drivers interviewed were quite consistent. The findings were that commercial truck stops and public rest areas are not substitutes for each other because they meet different needs. (FHWA Study of Adequacy of Commercial Truck Parking Facilities – Technical Report)

The State of Iowa completed field observations of truck parking on Interstate highways in 1999. This study divided the Interstates in Iowa into six segments. Parking at public rest areas was observed to be above capacity for almost every segment and almost every day during the observation period, and trucks were observed parking on the shoulder at exit and entrance ramps. On the other hand, parking at commercial truck stops and travel plazas was observed to be above capacity for only a single segment, and then for only two of the seven days during the observation period. These observations suggest that drivers do differentiate between parking at public rest areas and other commercial parking areas. (FHWA Study of

Adequacy of Commercial Truck Parking Facilities – Technical Report)

In 1999, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council sponsored a study of truck parking in the Baltimore area that concluded that, even though there was a sufficient supply of parking spaces available to truck drivers, trucks were often parked illegally along the highways at night. These observations suggest that truck drivers do differentiate between parking spaces by choosing to park in illegal spaces along the highway rather than legally at other locations. (FHWA Study of Adequacy of Commercial Truck Parking Facilities -Technical Report)

Franklin County, Kentucky – One day after an Ohio man was killed when he struck an illegally parked truck on Interstate 75, state transportation officials announced the addition of 10 rest havens. To enforce rest haven use, tickets will be issued to illegally parked trucks.

Truck Rest Havens

Overnight parking is available at designated weigh stations (regardless of open or closed status). You will not be disturbed except for emergencies.

To locate Rest Havens and weigh stations with rest havens, visit our 511 Traffic and Travel Info page. Click on Travel Info, then Weigh Stations and then select a location. “Kentucky Law Prohibits Parking on Interstate Ramps and Shoulders.”

In 1991, the American Trucking Association published a poster titled “Trucks are Targets on Shoulders”, recommending that trucks should park at a location where you are not exposed to high-speed traffic.

In 1987, the Federal Highway Administration Region 3 Office sent out a notice voicing concern over non-emergency parking on shoulders. (Why the long silence FHWA?)

May 2005: The State of Indiana increases Interstate parking fines to $500.

Rumble strips seem to reduce crashes by as much as one third where they are present!

NATSO (National Association of Travel plazas and Truckstops) initiated the only national campaign to promote safe truck parking in the U.S., and truck parking victims thank them for saving lives. We would like to see entities like the American Trucking Association and trucking unions conduct similar life saving campaigns!

The Highway Safety Desk Book – Read about shoulder parking enforcement.

Quote from the Desk Book:

“The Washington State Department of Transportation has stated, “Millions of dollars are spent each year to make highways safer and the roadside features more forgiving to errant drivers. Why, then, do we tolerate parked or abandoned vehicles to remain along our highways for extended periods of time? We have designed standards that require a ‘clear zone’ on limited access highways. Nothing can be placed in this zone without providing protection to the motorist in the form of a guardrail, barrier, crash cushions, or breakaway supports. Yet, we allow heavy vehicles to stand a few feet or even inches from the traveled lanes”

The tragic loss of a Texas family in a crash with a non-emergency parked truck on a Texas Interstate made the national media in the U.S., the investigating officer proclaimed the truck “legally parked”! This truck had not placed triangles, or lit emergency flashers, and was non-emergency parked on the shoulder of an Interstate Highway. Police and the media cannot allow these exemptions to our laws to continue. These stories in the media appear almost daily in the U.S., and the proclamations of legality are used to cheat surviving victims of justice in court proceedings. These errant reports cause more illegal parking to occur, and result in more deaths and injuries! The media have a responsibility to the motoring public to question an officers judgment when they print these stories. Properly training police officers in trucking law is desperately needed to stem the tide of needless and immoral parked truck crashes. Enforcement of truck parking laws will save thousands of lives, it could not be simpler!!!

All of the parking victim families that have contacted the Underride Network over the years have shared similar stories. The truck was illegally parked on the shoulder, the driver failed to place triangles, the investigating officer found the truck legally parked. The local media report the truck as legally parked according to the investigating police officer, never questioning how this could be on a no-parking roadway. Even when children are killed this occurs, thinking of the morality of all of this is sickening. This goes on year after year in the U.S. with no end in sight!

Victims have been fighting back, usually at great emotional and financial cost. For decades, many courts would not even allow the introduction of evidence of violations of law by these killer parked trucks, even though the government has viewed these violations as causative and dangerous practices.

On July 14, 2000, the Fourth District Court of Appeals in California reversed the decision of the earlier court that disallowed FMCSR 392.22 (Federal truck parking law) to come in as evidence and erred by not giving negligence per se instructions to the jury on the same. The order stated “We hold that the trial court erred in refusing to give the jury a negligence per se instruction based on FMCSR section 392.22.” And concluded “We agree with the Balascios’ first contention and conclude this error requires reversal of judgment.” They also stated that other evidence, that was kept out, was admissible as well, namely, the Idaho CDL Manual and the Company’s Safety Manual.

We hope this legal precedent will put a stop to such unfair practices by U.S. Courts and Judges, but unfortunately, many judges still rely on campaign contributions from these large corporations and not from trucking victims! There exist partnerships between politicians, government agencies, police agencies, and trucking interests that exert pressure to continue lax law enforcement and interference in victims legal proceedings. States are pressured to pass illegal laws that hamper parking enforcement by limiting enforcement to only include disabled trucks, not voluntary non-emergency parking. Proper coding of accidents is resisted. Fines are often miniscule, if parking law is even enforced. Even though illegal truck parking is likely the most statistically lethal illegal act a truck driver can commit, it is treated as an infraction with a small fine and not as a felony that the numbers and percentage of fatalities would demand! A State of Virginia study showed 50% of shoulder parked truck crashes in that state resulted in a fatality, does this most lethal act truly merit a $100 fine and no black mark at all on the truck drivers driving record even when fatalities are involved!

Please park cars and trucks safely to save lives!





This is an ongoing project, please email your tips, pictures, and news items.

U.S. Truck Parking Safety Links:

FHWA Fact Sheet for Highway Provisions in the (SAFETEA-LU) Section 1305


FHWA REPORT TO CONGRESS – Study of Adequacy of Parking Facilities


Study of Adequacy of Commercial Truck Parking Facilities–Technical Report (FHWA-RD-01-158):




NTSB HIGHWAY SPECIAL INVESTIGATION REPORT – Truck Parking Areas (Note: Parking victims and their experts have been excluded from participation and thus from inclusion as interested partners in the discussion of solutions)


Commercial Driver Rest and Parking Requirements: Making Space for Safety, Final Report


Rest Area Forum: Summary of Proceedings (Note: Parking victims and their experts have been excluded from participation and thus from inclusion as interested partners in the discussion of solutions)


Model Development For National Assessment of Commercial Vehicle Parking FHWA-RD-01-159


Commercial Vehicle Driver Survey: Assessment of Parking Needs and Preferences


NATSO on Truck Parking Issues


NATSO Interstate Oasis Program


Intelligent Transportation Systems and Truck Parking


Virginia House Document No. 17 – Passenger Vehicle Crashes Into Stationary Large Trucks (All States should follow these recommendations)


Study – Passenger Vehicle Crashes Into Stationary Large Trucks in PDF Format

Shows 1 out of 2 shoulder parked truck crashes in Virginia resulted in a fatality! Provides further examples of improper government involvement in discouraging strict enforcement of federal trucking laws. Dedicated for the “families that grieve and for those who will not because of these efforts”! This is the first and only government acknowledgement of truck parking victims in the U.S. and these efforts by the State of Virginia will truly save lives!

FHWA Report on Truck Parking Facilities Shows Adequate Supply Nationwide


NATSO Senate Letter on Parking


CFR 392.22 Stopped Vehicles (U.S. Truck Parking Regulation)


Copyright 2014 by Underride Network