National Connections, Local Ownership
National Connections, Local Ownership

The Truck Parking Shortage Finally Gets the Attention It Deserves

Earlier this year, I posted a blog on the lack of parking for truckers and how that can impact not just the driver, but the company as well. Now, it looks like that concern is being addressed.

It seems as though shortages of every kind are plaguing our industry: equipment shortages, parts shortages, driver shortages, technician shortages, etc. When dealing with so many challenges, it should come as no surprise that the shortage of parking spaces for drivers doesn’t get much coverage. But it should. Just consider a driver’s plight. They are subjected to HOS regulations and then have to spend time looking for available spots to park legally.

Over-the-road drivers face this dilemma daily, especially along the heavily trafficked I-95 corridor and I-5 in California. In 2020, the Federal Highway Administration said that 98 percent of drivers indicated they had difficulty finding safe parking. Last year, the truck parking issue became the fifth most important issue on ATRI’s list of top industry issues, following only driver retention, driver shortage, driver pay, and lawsuit abuse reform. But when professional drivers were asked for their biggest concerns, truck parking actually tied for first place alongside compensation.

There are approximately 313,000 truck parking spaces nationwide, but how many is less important than where they are. In a posting in the DOT’s, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) note that, “98% of drivers report problems finding safe parking, costing drivers more than 56 minutes of drive-time to find parking. That wasted time is estimated to cause a $5,500 loss in annual compensation, roughly a 12% pay cut.” The reality is that 38 percent of truck tonnage travels through areas that have only 8.5 percent of the legal truck parking spaces.

Change is coming…the question is, “how long will it take?”

What the industry has always known has now been acknowledged by the government. As I noted in my earlier blog, “ATA and OOIDA, two groups that often don’t agree on certain policies are of one voice on this. A recent article in FreightWaves noted that both groups worked together on a letter to Pete Buttigieg, asking for $755 million over five years that would go towards funding truck parking projects. This is an issue that has had bipartisan support in Congress as well. The letter noted that 70 percent of drivers found themselves violating HOS rules due to a lack of parking availability.

An article in Transport Topics shows that Buttigieg read that letter. When he spoke at a National Coalition on Truck Parking Virtual Workshop recently, Buttigieg stated, “Just about every truck driver in America has been in a situation where you’re on a long trip or ahead of schedule and have to pull up on the shoulder of a highway on the side of an exit ramp into a vacant space in order to rest because of the lack of proper truck parking.”

Now, for the first time, the issue of truck parking has reached the project stage with one project in Florida and one in Tennessee being awarded federal Infrastructure for Rebuilding America competitive grants. That’s great, but just a drop in a bathtub full of troubled waters. We certainly hope this is just the beginning of such projects. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) just issued a guidebook, the Truck Parking Development Handbook, that explains how states can use available resources to increase more and safer truck parking.

It’s not just the driver who pays the price.

Although on the face of it, this might seem like a driver issue. It is, but it’s also an issue for the carrier the driver is working for. Time spent looking for parking is less time spent reaching the destination…and since time is money in this business, that’s a loss for everyone. If the Federal government works with the trucking industry in addition to working with state leaders, there is some hope that the worst of this situation might be mitigated.

Read more of my NationaLease blogs.

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