Have you ever seen a big rig parked on the shoulder of the Interstate? How about twenty of them? In the town of Mahwah, New Jersey, this is a daily occurrence. Every night truckers turn the shoulder of Interstate 287 into an improvised truck stop. This is both a nuisance and a danger.
The area where the truckers stop has steep inclines and the highway shrinks from three lanes to two, which is dangerous enough without big rigs blocking the shoulder. Truckers claim that they have no choice—the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says they have to stop driving after 11 hours and that’s what they do—right there in the emergency lane of I-287. However, if trucking companies and truck drivers responsibly planned their routes, there would not be such a large number of trucks dangerously and illegally parked on the roadway each night.
Bill Laforet, the Mayor of Mahwah, does not believe that illegally parking on the interstate is the only choice for truckers. And really, how can one believe it? The idea that a steady stream of truckers max out their drive times at the exact same location is inconceivable. Mr. Laforet says they stop because they do not want to spend time getting off of the interstate and driving to a safe, legal truck stop. Both the State Police and the Mahwah Police Department are actively patrolling the area. Despite tickets, signs and police patrols, the trucks quickly lineup and park again.
For local residents, the noise from the trucks has become a nuisance. For motorists on the interstate, the trucks present a significant safety hazard. Having big rigs parked in the emergency shoulder of the interstate is dangerous for a number of reasons. Most obviously, when there is a ¼ mile long line of tractor-trailers blocking the emergency shoulder, what is a car or truck supposed to do if they encounter an emergency? There has already been one fatality in this area, as a result of a car crashing into the back of a parked big rig. The practice of illegally parking trucks on the roadway must end before there are other innocent motorists who are needlessly killed or injured.
Crashes with big rigs cause terrible injuries and often result in death for car drivers and truckers alike. If you or anyone you know has been hit by a big rig truck you should seek advice from an experienced attorney who can analyze the liability and insurance issues related to commercial driver crashes.