18-Wheelers Using More Rest Stops in Iowa
The highways of Iowa are famous for their rest stops. These stops are attracting truck drivers in large numbers and Iowa has become a must stop at location for drivers that are driving through the state. Additional installation of recreational things such as picnic areas, well-equipped bathrooms, internet accessibility, and installation of vending machines has been done to most of the rest stops.
Dennis Mabie, the rest area manager of Department of Transportation, said that bigger parking lots are made for bigger trucks which are in use by 18-wheelers. However, at the rest area near Mitchellville, semi-trucks are parked along the exit and entrance of the ramps which means that the already present parking space for trucks is not enough.
The law only lets truck drivers drive for 11 hours straight, and not being able to pull off the road for a break is becoming troublesome for the drivers. Phil Mescher, who is the transportation planner, observed the spillover and said, “We definitely have an increase in freight traffic and its projected to continue to grow at an exponential rate.”
One of the drivers, Kevin Stewart, who parked his truck on the side of road shared that he was scared of being approached by some angry person because of the way he had to park. He clarified, “That is technically kind of a bad thing, but you got to do what you got to do.”
Ken Sayers, another driver who stopped on his journey to Salt Lake City said, “Trying to find a parking spot at truck stops is miserable and it’s unsafe. The way it is, I have to spend at least the last hour of the day looking for a place.”
The crowd at the commercial truck stop is just as frustrated at public rest areas. One of the solutions of this mishap could be informing the drivers about parking spaces beforehand.
A system with digital road signs and smart phone apps is being introduced, and Iowa with other Midwest states, is working on a federal grant. This new technology will facilitate the drivers in finding available parking spaces early and in lesser time duration. Nevertheless, this initiative will be useless if there aren’t any spaces left to park. One of the administrators with DOT, Steve McMenamin explained, “We have 16 million people that use the rest areas every year. We found that almost every rest area at some point during the day is at 120 to 150 to 200 percent capacity, yea, that’s a problem.”
For now, it is not just a parking issue but a safety issue as well because the trucks are parked along the interstate, which blocks the way, and drivers are also too exhausted after an 11 hour drive to move on to the next rest stop.
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