Yes, you can park overnight on the on-ramp and off-ramp to a rest area in Texas. The Texas Transportation Code contains a section addressing parking in certain places, but does not prohibit parking along the shoulder of a highway, on-ramp, or off-ramp.
Can You Park Overnight On the On-Ramp or Off-Ramp to a Rest Area in Texas?
Because of federal laws limiting commercial truck drivers to 11-hours of service in a 14-hour window, rest areas have become crowded with long-haul drivers. The crowded conditions have resulted in trucks parking along the shoulders of the on-ramp and off-ramp to these rest areas.
The question is, is it legal to park a truck overnight along these shoulders?
Texas Transportation Statutes on Parked Vehicles
The laws for parking along public roads and highways are codified under Title 7 of the Texas Transportation Code, Subtitle C, Chapter 545, Subchapter G. However, the following laws do not address parking vehicles along an on-ramp or off-ramp…
Sec. 545.302. STOPPING, STANDING, OR PARKING PROHIBITED IN CERTAIN PLACES. (a) An operator may not stop, stand, or park a vehicle: (1) on the roadway side of a vehicle stopped or parked at the edge or curb of a street; (2) on a sidewalk; (3) in an intersection; (4) on a crosswalk; (5) between a safety zone and the adjacent curb or within 30 feet of a place on the curb immediately opposite the ends of a safety zone, unless the governing body of a municipality designates a different length by signs or markings; (6) alongside or opposite a street excavation or obstruction if stopping, standing, or parking the vehicle would obstruct traffic; (7) on a bridge or other elevated structure on a highway or in a highway tunnel; (8) on a railroad track; or (9) where an official sign prohibits stopping. (b) An operator may not, except momentarily to pick up or discharge a passenger, stand or park an occupied or unoccupied vehicle: (1) in front of a public or private driveway; (2) within 15 feet of a fire hydrant; (3) within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection; (4) within 30 feet on the approach to a flashing signal, stop sign, yield sign, or traffic-control signal located at the side of a roadway; (5) within 20 feet of the driveway entrance to a fire station and on the side of a street opposite the entrance to a fire station within 75 feet of the entrance, if the entrance is properly marked with a sign; or (6) where an official sign prohibits standing. (c) An operator may not, except temporarily to load or unload merchandise or passengers, park an occupied or unoccupied vehicle: (1) within 50 feet of the nearest rail of a railroad crossing; or (2) where an official sign prohibits parking. (d) A person may stop, stand, or park a bicycle on a sidewalk if the bicycle does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of pedestrian or other traffic on the sidewalk. (e) A municipality may adopt an ordinance exempting a private vehicle operated by an elevator constructor responding to an elevator emergency from Subsections (a)(1), (a)(5), (a)(6), (a)(9), (b), and (c). (f) Subsections (a), (b), and (c) do not apply if the avoidance of conflict with other traffic is necessary or if the operator is complying with the law or the directions of a police officer or official traffic-control device. (g) If the governing body of a municipality determines that it is necessary to improve the economic development of the municipality's central business district and that it will not adversely affect public safety, the governing body may adopt an ordinance regulating the standing, stopping, or parking of a vehicle at a place described by Subsection (a)(1), other than a road or highway in the state highway system, in the central business district of the municipality as defined in the ordinance. To the extent of any conflict between the ordinance and Subsection (a)(1), the ordinance controls. Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 814, Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 1999.
You can see in the above copy of the actual law that there is nothing prohibiting drivers from parking along a highway shoulder, let alone on the on-ramp or off-ramp to a rest area.
The only possible thing that could make this illegal is if your truck or RV is too far close to the travel lane where it presents a danger to traffic, or if there is a sign posted prohibiting parking.
Texas Laws Actually Allows You to Park on a Highway Shoulder
Texas Transportation Code also allows you to park along the shoulder of a highway in certain situations, among which is to park and stop. You can find this law under Title 7 of the Transportation Code, Subtitle C, Chapter 545, Subchapter B…
Sec. 545.058. DRIVING ON IMPROVED SHOULDER. (a) An operator may drive on an improved shoulder to the right of the main traveled portion of a roadway if that operation is necessary and may be done safely, but only: (1) to stop, stand, or park; (2) to accelerate before entering the main traveled lane of traffic; (3) to decelerate before making a right turn; (4) to pass another vehicle that is slowing or stopped on the main traveled portion of the highway, disabled, or preparing to make a left turn; (5) to allow another vehicle traveling faster to pass; (6) as permitted or required by an official traffic-control device; or (7) to avoid a collision. (b) An operator may drive on an improved shoulder to the left of the main traveled portion of a divided or limited-access or controlled-access highway if that operation may be done safely, but only: (1) to slow or stop when the vehicle is disabled and traffic or other circumstances prohibit the safe movement of the vehicle to the shoulder to the right of the main traveled portion of the roadway; (2) as permitted or required by an official traffic-control device; or (3) to avoid a collision. (c) A limitation in this section on driving on an improved shoulder does not apply to: (1) an authorized emergency vehicle responding to a call; (2) a police patrol; (3) a bicycle; or (4) a slow-moving vehicle, as defined by Section 547.001. Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by: Acts 2019, 86th Leg., R.S., Ch. 860 (H.B. 2837), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2019.
Note that an “improved shoulder” specifically means a paved shoulder under Texas Code. The above law was intended to address shoulders along the main thoroughfare of a highway, not an on-ramp or off-ramp.
So, Is It Legal to Park Overnight Along a Rest Area On-Ramp or Off-Ramp in Texas?
Yes. Based on the fact that Texas does not have laws prohibiting parking along the on-ramp or off-ramp of a rest area, it’s technically legal. However…
- Make sure your vehicle fully away from the flow of traffic, otherwise you’ll compel a law enforcement officer to knock on your door.
- Make sure there are no signs posted anywhere prohibiting parking there.
- Keep in mind that there are also federal regulations concerning the parking of commercial trucks along the shoulder of a highway, which includes turning on your hazard flashers, and placing warning reflectors.
More About Overnighting at Rest Areas & Truck Stops
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