Just a couple of months ago, in October, I wrote a blog about how the truck parking shortage was finally getting the attention is deserved. Now we see how it’s gotten one step closer to significant resolution.
Up until recently, with all of the challenges that fleets face…driver shortages, equipment shortages, parts shortages, and tech shortages…parking shortages, at least to those not in the industry, might seem to not be such a big deal. But, according to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) Top Industry Issues Report, the industry regards parking shortages as their No. 3 challenge; however, drivers rank it as their No. 1 concern. 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.
That’s why new Senate bi-partisan legislation, The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, sponsored by Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona and Sen. Cynthia Loomis (R-Wyoming) is so important, especially when you’re talking about over-the-road drivers, who face this issue daily. In 2020, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) said that 98 percent of drivers indicated they had difficulty finding safe parking.
Safety concerns have numerous negative outcomes. According to an article in FleetOwner discussing this news in FleetOwner, safety is a huge issue for women and may, in fact, suppress the number of women willing to look at driving as a career. The article further cites Senator Kelly who said, “A lack of accessible and reliable truck parking makes our roads less safe. Our bipartisan legislation will expand freight truck parking to ensure that truck drivers can safely and efficiently move the good that support our nation’s economy and supply chains.”
As I noted in my earlier blog, 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 transportation.gov, 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.” This while inflation makes every dollar precious.
How much will be dedicated to mitigating the parking shortage?
This proposed legislation, which is companion to House legislation passed in 2021, would include competitive grants of $750 million to be granted over four years. As we come to the end of the 2022 legislative session, there is unfortunately not a guarantee that this legislation will pass; however, it is an issue that affects politicians on both sides of the aisle and on every route in the country.
Everyone pays the price for this problem
Although on the face of it, this might seem like a driver issue, 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 this legislation passes, it will take time to see the kind of parking availability that the industry and drivers are hoping for…but it is a start and it does give some hope that something will finally get done.
Read my earlier blog on the parking shortage.