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Drivers Turn Highways Into Personal Parking Lots While Waiting To Pick Up Passengers From Tri-State Area Airports

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Officials say drivers are parking on highways by airports while waiting for passengers to land.

Not only is it dangerous, but it's also illegal.

Fast-moving cars and planes flying above are both normal sights along the 1&9 by Newark Airport, but what has also become normal is drivers making a gravel-and-dirt patch on the highway their temporary parking lot.

Not far away, more people were doing the same thing. CBS2 saw 18 vehicles lining up and down the emergency lane.

"This is convenient, cheap and free," one driver said.

It's also illegal. As CBS2 started recording, some drivers started leaving. One person peeled off right as an 18-wheeler trailed behind at high speeds.

"And if police came and ticketed you, would you be OK with that?" CBS2's Cory James asked one driver.

"Not really," the driver said.

"Do I feel safe? Do I feel safe? That's a good question," said Eddie Portis.

Portis is a taxi driver and says that's the reason he parks on the highway.

"They have cell phone parking, but taxi drivers are not allowed to park there," he said.

Signage at the cell phone lot on Brewster Road near the entrance of the airport states "no limousines or commercial vehicles," but most drivers parked on the highway can use the designated area.

People who were parked there say others should, too.

"Those cars, they could, like, pull out in traffic and cause traffic to back up or they could cause accidents," one driver said.

"It's not safe, especially if it's raining," another driver said.

In a statement, Port Authority Police say they "work diligently to enforce traffic safety and parking rules," adding there is updated signage for the cell phone lot and the agency is working "with Waze to put the address of the lot in their system to help people find a safe place to wait for their passengers."

While police try to stop the illegal parking, some say their efforts do not lead to permanent change.

"I see them a lot going by, but they will just wait until the police go by and make a lap and park on the side of the road again," one driver said.

"For the most part, they let us park here," Portis said.

The NYPD says it is looking into cases at LaGuardia Airport and JFK Airport.

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