Park It: Lack of Truck Parking Causes Major Headaches for Drivers
by Women In Trucking Staff, on Dec 26, 2022 5:00:00 AM
Access to adequate truck parking continues to pose significant challenges for professional drivers on many levels. This article explores the various challenges and safety risks that are generated as a result of the lack of driver access to adequate parking and amenities.
The Problem Defined
Specifically, the lack of adequate truck parking has been ranked as a top critical issue in the trucking industry by truck drivers in recent years, according to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). Many trucking industry associations, including WIT, the American Trucking Associations (ATA), and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) claim the nationwide shortage of truck parking has plagued America’s motor carriers and professional truck drivers for decades, with a wide range of consequences for highway safety, driver health and wellbeing, supply chain efficiency, and the environment.
Major freight corridors and large metro areas have the most acute shortages, with shortages existing at all times of the day – but mostly overnight and weekdays. In the landmark 2015 Jason’s Law Survey by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 27 state Departments of Transportation reported problems with truck parking, notably in congested freight corridors in the Northeast, up and down the East Coast, the Mid-Atlantic, and out west in the freight lanes of California and the Pacific Northwest.
According to the 2019 Jason’s Law Survey, conducted by the FHWA, 75 percent of professional drivers report problems finding safe parking weekly and another 20 percent report occasional problems (one or more times a month), while only 3 percent report they rarely have difficulty finding safe parking (once or twice a year) and 2 percent claim they never have problems finding safe parking.
Lack of Truck Parking is a Significant Safety Issue for Women Drivers
Do women drivers perceive that trucking is a safe industry in which they can work? According to a driver survey conducted by WIT last year through which more than 400 drivers participated, approximately 53 percent agreed or strongly agreed, while another 18 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed. Approximately 29 percent were neutral in their perception on this.
In fact, efforts toward parking shortage solutions have compounded by contributing factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, a shortfall of drivers that has ballooned to more than 80,000, the current supply chain crisis clogging many freight lanes and ports, and dramatic infrastructure issues in the United States. Drivers oftentimes park on highway entrance and exit ramps as an immediate solution to the challenge of lack of parking, but in most states this practice is illegal and places drivers at safety risk.
Professional truck drivers who are women also were asked how often they are forced to make a stop where they don’t feel safe. Nearly 10 percent said daily, more than 20 percent said weekly, more than 13 percent said monthly, nearly 11 percent said quarterly, and more than 7 percent said annually. The serious safety nature of these instances is exacerbated because of the inability to find safe and appropriate parking for large trucks.
Additional Problems Created by Lack of Truck Parking
Along with safety, there are additional problems driven by a lack of large truck parking. For example, there can be legal implications, according to some respondents to the WIT Safety & Harassment Survey. When truck drivers cannot find parking and are confronting driving limitations due to Hours of Service rules (HOS), they find themselves in a “no win” situation because they are forced to either park in unsafe or illegal locations or violate federal HOS regulations by continuing to search for safer, legal alternatives. According to the ATA, 70 percent of professional drivers have “been forced” to violate HOS rules due to a lack of truck parking.
The shortage of truck parking also creates a decrease in productivity and has economic implications. According to an ATRI study in 2016, professional drivers need to “surrender” an average of 56 minutes of available drive time per day, as they’re parking earlier than they need to because they’ve found available truck parking and they don’t want to pass up on the opportunity. The economic impacts of the inefficient use of the driver’s time are profound and the practical impact of productivity losses create issues through North American supply chains.
Of course, when there are few places for drivers to safely and legally park their trucks, professional drivers will find places to park that may not necessarily comply with federal requirements. That can make professional drivers a target of crime. When drivers are forced to find non-traditional or unauthorized truck parking areas, it can turn to tragedy. The significant economic impact of siphoned diesel fuel, and theft of equipment and cargo when it is hijacked in unsafe, unsecured parking locations also is of major concern.
Interested in learning more?
Download the Lack of Driver Access to Truck Parking whitepaper (which is part of WIT’s Whitepaper Safety & Harassment Series). Learn More