State troopers on Friday will begin a new enforcement effort targeting truckers and other commercial vehicle drivers who illegally park along Interstate 83 in Baltimore County, according to the Maryland State Police.

The practice, which has increased in recent years, creates "extremely dangerous conditions" for other drivers on the road, police said.

Troopers will be enforcing the new "zero tolerance" policy by issuing a citation to any commercial driver parked on the highway's shoulders for a non-emergency reason, police said.

The citation carries a fine of $60 but adds no points to the driver's record, police said.

The enforcement efforts will be conducted by troopers from the state police Golden Ring Barrack and will focus on the stretch of I-83 between the Pennsylvania line and I-695, police said.

As The Baltimore Sun reported this week, an increase in truck traffic and federal rules that have further limited truckers' driving hours in recent years have made parking along highways a persistent national problem, particularly in the Northeast, according to drivers and trucking industry representatives.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said parking on the shoulder of controlled access highways or other roadways "can be a significant contributing factor to injury or fatal crashes," police said.

Efforts have begun elsewhere in the state to expand the number of parking spaces for truck drivers at designated rest areas.

For example, the State Highway Administration recently won a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for an $8 million project to nearly triple the number of truck parking spaces at the Interstate 95 South Welcome Center in Howard County, from 21 spaces to 61. The work is expected to begin in the spring and take about a year, said Charlie Gischlar, an SHA spokesman.

"It's for safety," Gischlar said.

State police have asked drivers along I-83 to "plan ahead" to ensure they don't need to park on the highway.

The SHA will be posting signs along the highway reminding drivers of the parking restrictions, police said.

krector@baltsun.com

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