By Blake Spurney
Harvey County Now Staff
NEWTON—When the rest area in McPherson County was closed for a week recently, truckers had to find alternative places to stop for their breaks.
But what do they do when there’s no available spaces remaining at the rest area in Harvey County?
“You need to pull over to a safe place,” Patrice Lumumba of Ogden, Utah, said. “Make sure it’s a safe place for you and others.”
Lumumba, who has visited Newell Travel Center several times previously, said he would look for the next truck stop, which is something that happens nearly every day for a trucker. He said truckers were limited to 11 hours of driving time a day.
“When you get there and there’s no spots, try to use your phone or device to see where you can find a free spot,” he said.
Tim Potter, public affairs manager with the Kansas Department of Transportation, said the northbound McPherson County rest area was closed from Feb. 24 to 28 for plumbing repairs. He said the rest area in Harvey County had 12 parking spaces on each side for trucks.
Kris McKris of Indianapolis said he parked along the side of a highway Thursday night because he only had 30 miles of driving left, and he couldn’t find a spot.
“I check for the first shoulder on the highway and hope I get lucky there,” he said.
McKris said parking along an exit ramp was illegal, but sometimes law enforcement cuts him a break. He said state troopers in Georgia almost always ticketed truckers when they parked along an interstate. He said by the time someone knocked on the door of his truck, he hopefully had enough time to reset his hours so he could start his day again. Even when he’s not awakened by law enforcement, he said every passing vehicle rocked his cab.
“So it’s not like you’re getting a peaceful night’s sleep,” he said.
McKris said he didn’t want to get hit with a parking violation, because eventually, he would get written up for it.
State Trooper Nick Wright said shoulders along the exit and entry ramps were still considered part of the interstate. He said one only could park along the interstate in the event of an emergency.
“We’re all aware there’s some truck parking shortage,” he said. “We’re kind of forgiving about that it.”
Wright said the Kansas Highway Patrol enforced federal regulations that govern truckers. He said truckers could be on duty for 14 hours, but they’re capped at 11 hours of driving time. He said truckers were required to take a 30-minute break within eight hours of driving time, which can be accomplished while refueling or while their trailer is being loaded or unloaded. He said truckers were required to be off duty for 10 hours a day, at least seven of which must be spent in a sleeper. He said truckers kept track of their schedules with electronic logging devices.