Minnesota truck drivers: We need more parking

Minnesota truck drivers: We need more parking

Lual Akoon has a love-hate relationship with his job as an over-the-road truck driver. He enjoys the freedom to work when he wants and enjoys meeting people as he travels across the United States.

But every day when he’s on the road, Akun says he faces the biggest downside of his job: parking anxiety.

Like many truck drivers, Akon, 46, of Fridley, said he often struggles to find a place to pull off when he reaches the federally permitted 11-hour driving limit. This is especially true in Minnesota, which he described as one of the worst states for truck drivers.

“It’s a constant concern,” said Akon, who immigrated to the United States from South Sudan and has been a truck driver since 2016. “This is a big problem. We need truck parking.”

A 2019 report by the Minnesota Department of Transportation stated that “there is a clear public need and business case for increased truck parking in Minnesota.” MnDOT should consider ways to fund truck parking and actively seek federal grants, the report said.

The Minnesota Trucking Association in coordination with the American Trucking Associations recently sent a letter to Governor Tim Walz asking him to “prioritize and address this serious safety issue” and seek federal funding and US Department of Transportation grants to states to build new truck parking capacity at rest areas. Or next to private facilities.

“Take action to ensure truck drivers have a safe place to sleep when they are on the road delivering more than 70% of America’s goods,” the letter said.

A spokeswoman for the governor said he received the letter and will review it.

John Hausladen, of the Minnesota Truckers Association, said he hopes the letter will spark serious conversations with lawmakers when the Legislature returns to work in February.

“It affects delivery and productivity,” Hausladen said.

The MnDOT report found there are 4,846 truck parking spaces across the state. Of these, 677 (14%) are provided by MnDOT at roadside rest areas. The remainder is a mix of private truck stop operators.

Akone said he carefully plans his schedule to find safe and legal parking, but in his latest effort he parked his car on highway shoulders and on interstate on- and off-ramps, which is illegal.

“This is very scary and dangerous,” Akon said last week while driving from Dallas to Ohio. “I’ve had close calls.”

The dangers of a parking shortage were brought to the nation’s attention in July, when three passengers were killed and many others seriously injured when a Greyhound bus collided with three semi-trailer tractors parked on the shoulder of a rest area exit ramp on I-70 in Illinois. . Drivers had to park on the shoulder when the rest area was full.

“It shouldn’t happen,” Akon said. “We still need more truck stops in Minnesota. It’s good for driver safety. It’s good for on-time delivery. It’s very important.”

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