A common query in the age of COVID: Can that delivery van park there?
You love getting deliveries from FedEx, Amazon, UPS and the like. But you love their vans and trucks a lot less when they block your traffic lane so the driver can drop off someone else's packages.
With COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020, reliance on shipping has catapulted, resulting in delivery vehicles sprouting up on roads across the U.S.
"It's the norm now," Kane County Sheriff Chief Deputy Patrick Gengler said. "In most areas, it's really not a big deal. They pull up, park, put their hazards on and go in."
The concern is with stopping on roads with hills, curves and other blind spots, he explained. "I'm sure there have been places where this has caused an accident (and) probably caused quite a bit of frustration."
FedEx spokeswoman Rae Lyn Rushing noted that "drivers are expected to comply with all local traffic regulations. Parking limitations and congested metropolitan areas can create challenges as we strive to meet our daily customer service commitments."
State law, in summary, prohibits drivers from stopping, parking or leaving vehicles upon the roadway outside a business or residential district when it is practical to stop, park or leave vehicles off the roadway. When drivers do stop or park on a roadway, there should be another lane available for other motorists to pass on and vehicles should be visible for 200 feet in both directions, Illinois State Police officials said.
Exceptions do apply, such as on a bridge, within a crosswalk, and on highways.
"Sometimes, you will have delivery trucks stopping and blocking the lane that do not have a second lane in that direction," said Illinois Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker. "In situations like that, municipalities can write tickets. Many places that receive deliveries do not have parking, and the street becomes the only choice."
UPS drivers "are taught to be as expeditious as possible and to use their four-way flashers to let traffic know we are temporarily stopped," UPS spokesman Dan McMackin said. "Our drivers are taught not to use driveways as they can be areas where children play, pets move around and various other homeowner elements exist."
Amazon instructs drivers to chose street, shoulder, or side street parking if it's safe, out of the flow of traffic and not obstructing other vehicles, officials said.
"It can be very difficult for some delivery drivers to maneuver into certain driveways with large trucks, and we are always cognizant of that fact (when it comes to ticketing them) -- unless they've been warned or it's a habitual problem," Lake County Sheriff Lt. Chris Covelli said. "However, if they are responsible for a traffic crash, they could very well be cited."
Often enforcement is problematic because by the time someone reports a parking violation, "they could be a town over," Gengler said.
During the pandemic, retail e-commerce sales spiked, increasing by 39% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2020, federal data shows. UPS went from delivering 18 million packages a day nationwide in the first quarter of 2020 to 20.3 million in 2021, officials said.
COVID-19 "did in one year what otherwise would have taken three to five to accomplish," Northwestern University logistics professor Hani Mahmassani said.
That means "it's still a very dynamic area. It's not quite stabilized. And, there's many players," he said, explaining that Amazon is building up its own fleet and also hiring contractors to deliver parcels.
Gengler advises delivery drivers to "use common sense. Be aware of where you're parking at. If you're on a rural road that's got big hills and you're on the back of a hill -- if you can't see to the other side -- neither can those people coming in the other direction. Hit those flashers so people know that you're stopped."
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One more thing
AAA is warning teens and parents that the stretch between Memorial Day and Labor Day is called the "100 Deadliest Days" for young drivers. New drivers, ages 16 to 17, are three times more likely to be in a deadly crash compared to adults, AAA reports. During the summer, an average of 22 teen drivers are involved in a fatal crash in Illinois.
You should know
Got deep thoughts about Metra? Amtrak? Freight rail? IDOT is inviting comments on the future of the state's rail system now through June 14. To opine, go to illinoisrailneeds.org.
Sorry, Lake Zurich. IDOT crews are resurfacing Rand Road from Route 22 to Old Rand Road with work expected to wrap up later this summer.