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Public CMV parking a victim of Minnesota government shutdown

Minnesota has closed at its public rest areas, which means there is a big shortage of truck parking in the state. (The Trucker file photo)

By LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff

7/1/2011

MINNEAPOLIS — If you’re heading toward Minnesota with a load or are already there, be prepared. The shutdown of the Minnesota state government Friday is already spilling over into the trucking industry with short- and long-term ramifications.

“Public rest areas have been closed and barricaded, so truck drivers do not have access to public parking,” John Hausladen, president of the Minnesota Trucking Association, told The Trucker. “So there are not nearly enough safe parking places with facilities to take the mandated 10-hour break.”

Hausladen said the total number of rest areas closed was 67, but did not know the total number of parking places affected by the closures.

He said there had been discussions between the association and Minnesota representatives of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration about a waiver to the Hours of Service regulations because of the lack of parking, but “there is a dynamic between the federal government respecting the state’s authority in these matters and unfortunately, truck drivers get caught in the middle.”

Hausladen anticipates that truckers will choose to pull over to take their hours off anywhere they can to avoid breaking the rules.

“If a driver is faced with getting a log violation or parking somewhere without facilities, they are probably thinking that a bad CSA score is a lot worse than not having a bathroom,” he said, adding that he’d already heard about some drivers stopping at rest areas just outside the Minnesota border.

Another issue is license renewal.

Hausladen said the MTA began telling members two weeks ago that the shutdown was imminent and suggested anyone with a CDL renewal in July get their new license immediately.

“If you’re a driver and your CDL expires during the shutdown, you can’t functionally get it renewed as a CDL,” he said      .

Once a driver’s CDL expires, he or she can’t drive unless they have a verification number from CDLIS and none of those will be forthcoming during the shutdown.

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Another problem during the shutdown would occur if a driver with a Minnesota CDL gets pulled over in another state and there is an issue with the credentialing. There will be no employees at driver services to help resolve the issue, Hausladen said.

For the long term, Hausladen said the shutdown puts the state technically in default with federal grants, such as dollars for doing inspections. Only sworn state patrol officers will be on duty during the shutdown, and while they will do some roadside inspections, there will be a lot fewer conducted, Hausladen said.

New entrant compliance reviews are also a victim of the shutdown.

The oversized weight permit office will remain open.

“In 2005 when we last had a shutdown, the association went to the special magistrate appointed to handle such matters and got the oversized weight permit office declared as a critical function that had to remain operational,” he said. “We didn’t succeed in getting rest areas and credentialing declared as critical functions that year, but we are going back to court next Tuesday and plead for those two functions to be operational during the current shutdown.”

The shutdown started at 12:01 a.m. Friday, the product of an ongoing dispute over taxes and spending between Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative majorities. Talks fell apart well before the deadline, and no talks are currently planned.

Lyndon Finney of The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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