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I-4 through Central Florida is short hundreds of parking spots needed for truckers, FDOT says

LONGWOOD, Fla. — Federal law requires big-rig drivers to get rest along their routes, but in Central Florida, there aren’t enough parking spots to allow them to pull off the road.

The Florida Department of Transportation said it’s a big safety concern that they’re now trying to fix.

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Out of everywhere in the state, FDOT said the most critical need for parking spots is along the I-4 corridor. At the Longwood rest stop, there are only 36 spots. And on Wednesday at 4 p.m., they were all already full.

FDOT said the area needs 481 spaces just to meet current demand.

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JD Yanotti was a truck driver for more than a decade before he started teaching at Roadmaster Driving School. One of the first lessons his commercial driving students are taught is when it’s time to stop driving.

Federal law says after driving 11 hours straight truckers need 10 hours to rest.

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“The reason they put those rules in place is because of safety issues,” Yanotti said. “You get a lot of fatalities. Drivers falling asleep at the wheel not getting the correct rest.”

FDOT is wrapping up a study that pinpointed five locations along I-4 as good options for new truck parking sites. The sites would be equipped with restrooms and vending machines and would create more than 1,000 new parking spaces for drivers.

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But those spots won’t be opening anytime soon. The five projects won’t enter the design phase until 2025, and FDOT said funding for that construction hasn’t been secured.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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