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Lessons learned from this winter’s storms

The strong storms across the northeast this winter were a nightmare for everyone. Perhaps no one felt their sting more than truck drivers.

In some instances, when state highways were shut down, truckers moved on to secondary roads with disastrous results. Many of those drivers felt they had no other options as they were seeking to find somewhere to park their trucks. Others were following instructions of dispatchers who wrongly advised them to keep driving.

The bad weather situation was made worse by lack of planning on the part of drivers, dispatchers as well as state and local governments. Local officials need to take into consideration the impact of road closures on truckers and alert them in a timely manner so they can make alternate arrangements for parking. Truck parking is already at a premium and when weather forces trucks to stay off the road, arrangements need to be made so drivers can get to a safe place rather than resorting to traveling on local roads hoping to get to their destination.

Dispatchers can play a significant role in keeping drivers safe during bad weather. They need to monitor weather conditions in the corridors their drivers are traversing and stay on top of road conditions so they can advise drivers to get off the road as conditions deteriorate, even if it means late or missed deliveries.

But solving the problem goes beyond that. It will take a concerted effort on the part of state and local law enforcement working with state trucking associations and local businesses to design plans for rerouting truckers and identifying designated parking areas for trucks in the event of emergencies that require highways to be shut down. Otherwise, we can expect more trucks to be stuck on secondary roads or causing major disruption in areas not prepared to deal with truck traffic.

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