MARION — U.S. Rep. Mike Bost knows the trucking business — his family owns Bost Truck Service Inc. in Murphysboro.
“I grew up in the business. I came home from the Marines and was involved in the business for 10 years,” he said during a visit Monday to Marion to highlight a key issue he's hoping to tackle during this year's legislative session.
One issue for commercial drivers is finding a safe place to park and rest. Bost visited Vernell’s Interstate Service in Marion Monday to talk about a bill to help called the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act.
Commercial truck drivers, who are required to stop and rest periodically under federal law, often find themselves parking alongside exit ramps or roadways or in areas that are not safe.
Bost said this puts the drivers in danger of theft, robbery, damage to their vehicle — or even murder.
It also becomes dangerous to other drivers of personal vehicles on the roadway who may be tired and encounter a commercial vehicle in an unexpected place. They can drive up underneath a truck or hit them.
The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act would provide funding for states to increase the number of spots for trucks to park.
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“We realized (during the COVID-19 pandemic) how important trucks are,” Bost said.
Shelves were empty waiting on trucks to deliver goods. As more people move to online shopping, Bost said trucking industry will be even more important.
Before an order can be delivered by U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx or another delivery service, it is likely to have been on a commercial truck.
Vernell’s Interstate Service takes care of the needs of those commercial trucks by providing secure parking lots, repair and tire service and towing.
Shawn Hughes, operation manager at Vernell’s, said they service commercial drivers on Interstates 57, 24 and 64, as well as other local roads.
The business offers parking for 40 tractor-trailer trucks, and the lot often fills up.
“Trucks are parking on the side of the road. They have to get off the road enough. A lot of times, they turn over when they are ready to leave,” he said.
That puts their drivers on the side of the Interstate working to get the commercial vehicles back on the road.
“Our guys wouldn’t have to be out on the road. When our guys are called out, they would be in a secure parking lot,” Hughes said.
Bost said he became aware of another issue related to the bill while meeting with people at Vernell’s. The bill currently only allows states to apply for funding. There needs to be a way to make funding available to businesses.
Bost also answered questions about other topics.
Bost is pleased with the roll-out of vaccines for COVID-19, adding that he would have expected to see the same numbers from either administration. He also said he’s happy that his bill to allow all veterans and their caregivers to receive vaccines was signed two weeks ago.
“They are rolling it out as fast as they can,” he said.
Bost said he believes the immigration issue is being handled “terribly” by the Biden administration.
“They sent a clear message that the borders are open, come on over,” he said, adding that it is out of control. “We have to step back, quit complaining about the old administration and enact some rules.”
On the issue of mass shootings, Bost said we need to enforce existing laws and back the police officers who do that.
“We need to send a clear message that crime with guns will be prosecuted,” Bost said.