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Truck Parking Shortage Reaches Critical Status for Carriers and Drivers

Truck Parking Shortage Reaches Critical Status for Carriers and Drivers

A leading cause of truck driver stress is trying to find available parking, according to the ATA. As the lack of truck parking gets worse, drivers are having to start their search for parking earlier and earlier in the day. The issue is causing a major strain on driver health and fleet productivity.

Federal Hours of Service (HOS) break requirements and an increase in freight volumes has led to this truck parking shortage. More products needing to be hauled means more trucks on the road — and all those trucks need safe and legal parking.

Facts and Figures about Truck Parking:1

  • Drivers are spending about one hour of drive time on average per day to look for parking — equalling $4,600 in lost wages annually to due parking shortage issues, according to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).
  • Many states are reporting the unwelcome situation of unauthorized parking, primarily along major transit corridors and in dense metropolitan areas.
  • About 63% of drivers are taking 15 minutes or more to look for parking in the time window of 4:00 pm to 11:59 pm.
  • 7:00 pm to 11:59 pm is the peak time that drivers are having to use unauthorized parking.

The Root of the Problem

A central cause for the severe shortage of adequate truck parking is the more than 3 million truckers on U.S. roads and highways. Currently, there is only parking for 300,000 trucks according to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Only 36,000 of those parking spots are at rest areas and the remainder are located at truck stops. ATRI reports that traffic congestion is also a key factor in the parking shortage for trucks.

traffic jam cars and trucks on city street

Safety Concerns for Truckers

According to the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), long haul truckers need a safe, secure place to park that is easily accessible from the interstates. Unfortunately, this basic requirement, which is necessary for truckers to be compliant with Hours of Service regulations, is in extremely short supply.

If a driver is unable to find legal parking, he or she is in a very precarious position, forced to either operate illegally or park illegally. This presents a safety issue not only for the driver, but for the motoring public as well.

How Technology is Helping this issue

Mobile Apps for Smartphones — Several of the major truck stop chains have developed mobile driver apps that feature real-time parking information that is being transmitted from installed parking sensors. In the latest ATRI report, 55.5% of drivers in its study use websites and smartphone applications to find parking along their routes.

Online Reservations — Some of these truck stops have started to take parking reservations. Most will charge for the reservations, but more and more carriers are covering the reservation costs for their drivers.

In-Pavement Vehicle Detection Technology — In addition to apps, some other infrastructure changes are taking place. The Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT) is installing Truck Parking Availability System (TPAS) along its major interstates which will monitor truck spaces at rest areas and weigh stations via in-ground sensors and then report it on roadside signs.

What’s Next — Big Data to the Rescue

While it is possible to receive data from truck stops, rest areas, and DOT traffic operations centers through smartphone apps or text messages, researchers say those are less than desirable options.

The answer may be in electronic logging devices (ELDs) and the data they provide. Providing GPS information related to parking congestion through the ELD could significantly improve productivity.

We should see more developments in the months to come.

References:

  1. American Transportation Research Institute, “Managing Critical Truck Parking Case Study — Real World Insights from Truck Parking Diaries,” December 2016.

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