SOPHIA, WV (WVNS)– It is a sight becoming all too common here in the mountain state, 18-wheelers pulled over on the side of major highways and an increase in truck traffic on the West Virginia Turnpike.
59News wanted to find out why this is, so we spoke with an instructor at CL Assist, who also drove for over two decades.
“Tractor Trailers run a different rule set than a passenger car does,” said Steve Waldron.
It’s a rule set road trippers would turn their heads to — a mandatory inspection and monitored driving time.
“They have to do a pre-trip in the morning which starts a 14-hour clock,” explained Waldron.
“Once that 14-hour clock starts, it cannot be stopped unless you take a 10-hour consecutive break. Of that 14 hours you’re allowed to drive 11 hours. That log book does not care if you run into weather traffic accidents or anything that may hold you up.”
Which is where drivers run into problems. Once that time limit is reached, drivers are required to stop regardless of where they are.
“We don’t have enough parking,” Waldron told us. “We have all these places that could have plenty of parking for people in alongside the interstate. But we don’t have the infrastructure to do that right now. So for every time that you park a tractor-trailer there’s probably 4 to 5, that will not find parking that night.”
So what happens if a driver doesn’t find parking and decides to keep driving past the 11-hour limit?
“You’re in violation of the federal law,” said Waldron. “That means if you get stopped you’re going to be in a lot of trouble, you’re going to be shut down. They’re going to what they call red tag you. They can shut you down for 10 hours they can shut you down for 34 hours which is a reset.”
Red tagging can not only affect the driver and their company but also the economy as well. While hauling loads for big box stores like Target, Walmart, and Amazon, a full reset can also slow the stream of goods. Which is why Waldron said you see so many trucks on the side of the road.
Waldron added southern West Virginia is a dead zone with truck stops, especially between Beckley and Princeton, and the refurbishment of the Beckley and Bluestone Travel Plazas is an added hindrance.
“Once they cross into West Virginia every truck driver knows that you’re not going to find parking. You have to allow yourself to get through,” he said.
Waldron said in addition to tractor-trailer friendly rest areas he would like to see more brands like Petro, Flying J, and others expand into the southern part of the state and assist with the demands of life on the roads.
59News reached out to the West Virginia Department of Transportation for a comment on the lack of truck parking in the state, and so far, we have yet to receive a response.