Broke state ignoring safety with truckstop closures: MTA

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota’s politicians can’t agree on a debt-reduction plan and until they do, the state has effectively shut down all sorts of state services. Some, as schools, are considered critical and therefore left open.

But others, for instance state-operated rest areas for trucks and roadside-inspection processing, are shut down.

The Minnesota Trucking Association (MTA) believes that rest areas and roadside inspections are crucial for state safety, so it is trying to convince the government that they be re-opened.

"Federal and state regulations require truck drivers to rest for 10 consecutive hours after being on duty for 14 hours each day,” MTA President John Hausladen told a special commission that is looking into the shut down Tuesday.

Legally, truckers must stop at either private truck stops or public rest areas. But if they can’t access the public areas, that removes hundreds of spaces from the already shrinking pool of rest areas.

Truck drivers who can’t access a private stop will have to drive in excess of their allowable hours to find an acceptable parking spot, or they can park on shoulders and ramps, creating a hazard for other motorists and put themselves in danger, Hausladen points out.

The MTA also contends that the state is bound to fulfill obligations such as roadside inspections, maintaining the CDL information system [CDLIS] and conducting new entrant audits.

Meantime, nobody can predict how long the shutdown will last.

Legislative leaders met Wednesday to try to settle the dispute, which arose because the two parties can’t agree on how to erase a $5-billion deficit. 

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