The state’s largest trucking association embraced Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s travel restrictions Monday.

But a shortage of highway truck stops means some drivers may be waiting out Hurricane Sandy in a local supermarket or mall parking lot.

“Governor Malloy is leading the state through a very difficult weather emergency,” Michael Riley, president of the Motor Transportation Association of Connecticut, said Monday. “We agree that light, empty or high-profile trucks should not be on the state’s highways during this extraordinarily perilous storm.”

While the governor’s order banned many trucks from using limited-access highways, it did allow for trucks hauling food, water, fuel and medical supplies, as well as those involved in public safety and utility restoration services.

“We urge all trucks not carrying essential cargo to get off the road and seek refuge in safe areas,” added Riley, whose association represents more than 900 freight haulers, landscapers, construction firms and other businesses that rely heavily on trucks.

Malloy urged Connecticut residents to help these trucks find a safe place to ride out the storm, and Riley said this assistance is more essential than many realize.

truck stop

This truck stop is on I-84 in Willington.

That’s because the state has fewer than two dozen truck stops on its highways. Some offer fuel, food, restrooms and parking spaces — but others offer just the last two.

The association managed to block a legislative proposal in 2011 to close two rest stops on Interstate 84 in Willington to save funds.

And Riley said his group, after studying the issue in recent years, concluded that an additional 1,200 parking spaces are needed statewide.

“This is a real problem,” he said. “On a good day we don’t have enough places for drivers to get their needed rest. Today they may have to park in some public parking lot and hope someone doesn’t throw them out.”

Both large tractor-trailers and smaller trucks can be particularly susceptible to heavy winds, depending on their shape, the total surface area they take up and the weight they are carrying, Riley said.

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Keith M. PhaneufState Budget Reporter

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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