Semitrucks shouldn't be roadside distractions

The News TribuneJuly 8, 2014 

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A truck and semi-trailer and another large trailer sit parked on Military Road South at 22 Ave. East, in Spanaway, June 25, 2014.

PETER HALEY — Staff photographer Buy Photo

When most of us get off work, we drive home and park curbside or in a driveway or garage. But what if you drive a big rig?

Unfortunately, many independent truck drivers are parking their rigs or detached trailers on public rights of way in Pierce County residential neighborhoods — sometimes for days and even weeks at a time.

This can be a safety problem, creating blind spots for drivers and pedestrians and blight that invites others to leave junk items nearby. If parked near homes, the rigs can also create noise and pollution problems when drivers let the engines idle to warm up in winter.

Citizen complaints to the Pierce County Council about what seems to be a growing number of these roadside rigs is getting action. The council is poised to impose a ban on overnight parking of commercial semitrucks more than 10,001 pounds and trailers more than 20 feet long between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., with each violation subject to $175 fines. The residential area rights of way affected are within the county’s urban growth areas in Parkland, Spanaway, Frederickson, South Hill, Eatonville and Gig Harbor.

The proposed ban isn’t coming from out of left field; King County and Seattle have similar restrictitions, and Tacoma’s applies to all hours.

The ban is a good idea, but the fact that it’s become an issue points to a problem: Truckers need places to park their rigs. A spokesman for the Washington Trucking Association told The News Tribune’s Steve Maynard that Pierce County doesn’t have enough truck parking facilities.

That sounds like a business opportunity for someone. There are several vacant big-box store parking lots around. Why not make some of them available to truck drivers at a modest price? That hast to be better than a $175 per night ticket.

It’s understandable that many truck drivers would prefer to park close to home and be able to keep an eye of their rigs rather than have to find a ride to a site that might be miles away. But their convenience shouldn’t outweigh safety and neighborhood blight issues. The council is right to impose the same kind of restrictions already in place in other communities.

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