A truck is parked on the ramp from State Route 734 to I-75 southbound in Fayette County at 7:30 a.m. The increase in truck traffic, mandatory rest periods for drivers and the lack of adequate space for truck parking has left many drivers no alternative other than the side of the ramps for rest breaks. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

5 things to know about those big rigs

Those big rig trucks barreling down the highway are a key part of how America moves its goods. But the industry faces some challenges as it continues recovering from a downturn during the Great Recession.

Here are five things to know about the U.S. trucking industry:

1. Finding qualified workers remains a huge challenge for trucking companies. The industry projects it will need more than 898,000 new truck drivers over the next decade. About half of them would replace retiring drivers.

RELATED: Jobs expert: ‘This is going to be an epidemic’

Increased truck traffic and rest requirements crowd highway ramps

2. The trucking industry is growing along with the economy but large trucks traveled fewer miles in 2016 than they did in 2007, the last full year before the nation tumbled into the Great Recession. Large trucks traveled more than 304 million miles that year, compared to 288 million in 2016, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

RELATED: Trucking industry must overcome challenges to continue growth

3.Trucks have gotten safer over the years, outfitted with a variety of driver assist technology. The rate of fatal crashes involving large trucks was 1.34 per 100 million miles traveled in 2016. That was a 2.7 percent decline from 2007.

RELATED: As large truck traffic increases on US roadways, is safety taking a hit?

Fatal crashes involving large trucks, 2007-2016
Photo: Staff Writer

4. Drivers of tractor-trailer trucks now keep track of hours on the road using a mandatory Electronic Logging Device that federal rules require be installed in each truck. That device replaced hand-kept logs used to make sure drivers complied with limits on how long they could drive.

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5. Drivers of large trucks are increasingly finding it difficult to find parking, causing some to park along rest area berms. Ohio has added truck parking counter devices at rest areas. Electronic signs along the roadway report the number of available parking spots at upcoming rest areas.

RELATED: Major disconnect: Jobs unfilled despite thousands of unemployed


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