In an effort to let drivers know where they can park safely, the state has begun posting signs at public rest areas that give directions and distances to private truckstops. That way, when a driver finds no room in the truck parking area of a public rest stop, he will know exactly how far he has to go for a place to park.
According to a 1996 study by the American Trucking Assns., there is not enough room at rest areas for truck drivers — a shortage that forces drivers to park on rest area exit ramps, where they are a risk to themselves and other motorists. But the Baltimore Region Freight Movement Task Force has found that in Maryland, at least, there is more than enough space within the network of public and private areas, including weigh stations and park-and-ride lots.
The signs give drivers the information they need, but sometimes information is not the problem, according to Marshall Moore, manager of a Petro Stopping Center in Elkton, MD.
"It's a matter of convenience," he explained. Even though truckstops generally do not charge for parking, some drivers simply don't want to make the trip off the highway. Also, some do not like to back up in crowded truckstop lots, or do not like feeling pressure to buy fuel or a meal, he said.
Moore and others, including Walter Thompson, president of the Maryland Motor Truck Assn., believe the signs are a simple, cost-effective way to take some of the pressure off of crowded public rest areas.
The first sign went up June 3 at the I-95 Northbound Welcome Center near Laurel, MD. More will follow at I-95 sites this summer.