Recently, a passionate driver left a well articulated comment on one of our Facebook posts. In it, he expressed his frustration with what he believes to be one of the biggest issues currently impacting the wellbeing of truck drivers across the country - a lack of parking. He mentioned a few other factors that, in his view, discourage existing drivers and new drivers entering the profession. However, his point about parking amenities was especially interesting.
He wrote: ”Any OTR driver will confess to the daily frustration of finding safe & convenient parking when their hours of service are over. (The problem) is so serious that it’s forced many of us out here to leave OTR trucking altogether. Most companies don’t bother to facilitate parking fees, leaving the headache to the driver.”
Popular opinion seems to echo this driver’s thoughts. His comment garnered many responses and encouraging likes from drivers facing a similar situation.
Currently, there are more than 11 truck drivers for every one parking space, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA). 98% of drivers report problems finding safe truck parking, and the average driver spends 56 minutes of available drive time every day looking for parking.
That leads to a $5,500 loss in annual compensation – or a 12% annual pay cut. Furthermore, 58% of drivers admit to parking in unauthorized or undesignated spots at least three times per week to meet their parking needs.
Why is it that the lack of parking has become such a big problem, and why are companies doing little to help drivers out? Let’s find out.
For a long time, there was little regulation for hours of service(HOS) requirements in the United States. This changed in 2004, when the FMCSA mandated a 34 hour reset rule. This voluntary (at the time) rule made it so that truck drivers could formally end one workweek before beginning the next to stay compliant with federal HOS regulations.
If a driver works many days in a row, his or her work may be limited later in the week, or the following week. Taking a break would reset the driver’s work week to day one and allow them to work another 60 to 70 cumulative hours in the following 7 - 8 days.
Electronic logging devices (ELDs) became mandated in December 2015, marking a big change in a driver’s ability to control their own schedules. Instead of being in control of their own schedules, drivers were now being tracked digitally as opposed to the ‘honor’ system that existed prior and was in use for 78 years.
With ELDs in place, drivers now have to secure safe and available parking locations ahead of time, causing them to lose valuable time driving. Staying productive and taking a chance on finding parking at the right time rarely works out, and many drivers will find themselves sleeping on the side of the highway for the night.
The lack of parking and stress on available rest areas was worsened when drivers lost control of their HOS. With more trucks stopped at times outside of each individual driver’s control, the more demand for available parking increased. Supply of the much needed parking, however, did not increase significantly.Source.
Whenever there’s a lingering problem that needs solving, you can bet some tech companies are out there trying their best to solve it.
There are a few players currently trying to connect drivers looking for a place to park with companies that have space available… for a price. TruckPark, one of the more popular options on the market, gives drivers an opportunity to reserve spots in real time or up to 90 days in advance.
Companies such as TruckPark are partnering with big companies with plenty of yard space, many of which are not initially available or marketed to truck drivers.
Though pay-to-park apps are not a solution to this behemoth of an issue, they do alleviate some of the pain by giving drivers the option to find good parking spots when they’re needed.
As for who should pay, well, that’s up to you to decide. Many drivers naturally think that companies should be open to fronting the cost of parking at truck stops. Many drivers will agree that parking is a necessity required to carry out OTR work, not a privilege that they should have to go out of pocket for.
The truck parking problem is too big for a few apps to solve. Many industry stakeholders say what is really needed is federal money. That’s right, funding, leadership, initiatives, and innovation mandated by the federal government.
The thing is, lack of parking space for CDL drivers isn’t just an issue that affects drivers. It’s a problem for everyone on the road. Findings from the National Coalition on Truck Parking, headed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that freight corridors and large metropolitan areas are most affected by acute shortages of parking spaces. They further specify that these shortages exist at all times of the day, from dawn to dusk.
The National Coalition on Truck Parking is intent on helping solve the parking problem through influence in industry associations, state government, and law enforcement.
Who’s fighting the good fight? For the last 10+ years, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has been campaigning and bringing the issue of the driver parking shortage to light. Check out their site to find out more about their fight for the rights of all drivers across the country.
The OOIDA has been building support for the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act in Congress. This legislation would dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars in existing highway safety funding to parking projects. The program would take a multi-faceted approach to solving parking capacity issues by constructing new parking spaces and converting existing spaces.
On March 29th 2021, the Truck Parkign Safety Improvement Act was introduced by US reps Mike Bost and Angie Craig.
“I grew up in a family trucking business and spent years driving over the road,” said Rep. Bost. “Since then, we’ve seen the need for more trucks and drivers increase significantly, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when trucking helped to keep our economy going. However, the number of truck parking spaces hasn’t kept pace. That means that drivers are forced to park in unsafe locations, which puts both them and other motorists at risk. Creating sufficient parking options for long-haul truckers will not only help keep truckers safe during their rest breaks but will also mean safer roads for everyone.”
To which the OOIDA responded:
“Truckers often wonder if anyone in Washington is listening,” said OOIDA President Todd Spencer. “The introduction of the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act shows that not only are some Members of Congress listening, but lawmakers from across the political spectrum are willing to step up and address one of the greatest concerns for professional drivers – the national shortage of safe truck parking. OOIDA is proud to support this important legislation and will continue to work with our bipartisan champions and industry partners to get it passed.”Source.
If you’re a passionate truck driver looking to make an impact, joining an organization such as the OOIDA may be just the thing for you. With over 150,000+ members, they represent a voice for professional drivers working together to bring about positive change in the trucking industry.
What do you about the truck parking crisis? Leave a comment on this Facebook post and let us know.
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