Truck Parking and the Invisible Gorilla

by Ellen Voie, on Dec 7, 2020 1:59:02 PM


Have you ever watched the YouTube video about the invisible gorilla? Click here to watch and count how many times the ball is passed between the players in the white shirts. As you focus on the basketballs and their handlers, a gorilla walks through the middle of the activity and when the video is over, most people never noticed him (or her!)

Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, authors of the book, “The Invisible Gorilla,” explain that our minds are susceptible to everyday illusions because of our faulty intuitions. They describe the way we “misperceive” our world because of our own perceptions. 

For those of us who have worked in the trucking industry for decades, it sometimes feels as if we are missing something crucial in how we see the world.  

For example, the issue of truck parking has been a top concern for more than four decades. Recently the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) held a session to provide an update on what is being done to solve this issue. Legislation enacted in 2012, called “Jason’s Law,” required the government to make the truck parking issue a national priority. Do we really think the government will provide areas for truck parking when they haven’t passed a transportation bill since 2015? 

invisible-gorilla-circleWhy are we missing the invisible gorilla?

You’ve heard the expression, “timing is everything.”  When you go to a concert, a parking spot near the entrance is valued. However, hours after the last fan has left and the lot is empty, who wants a spot near the door? No one. The concert is over, and everyone has gone home.

What about the parking lots at a carrier’s operating center? How much room is available when most drivers are on the road delivering loads? Have you ever driven past a large carrier’s facility between Christmas and New Year’s? The lot is full because (most) drivers are home. After the first of the year, the lots empty out as the drivers leave to go back to work.

What if the trucking industry took it upon themselves to provide parking?  What if a carrier allowed ANY driver to park in their lot? Charge a small fee and then let them into your operating center to use your showers, your driver’s lounge, food service and fitness area. There are apps available that require a driver to schedule a spot and pay in advance for a safe, secure parking spot. Wouldn’t it make sense to allow a tractor trailer to park at a facility designed for professional drivers?

Think about the recruiting aspect of allowing a driver from company X to park at company Z and see how the carrier treats its own drivers. The app records the driver’s name, truck and credit card information, and if you have problems with a driver, then you block them through the use of technology.

If you’re a trucking company with a huge truck parking area and you’re keeping drivers away because they don’t work for you, then you are missing a great opportunity to treat a potential driver well and possibly recruit them. Even if you have ten spaces available and you allow a driver to use your rest room and offer them a cup of coffee, it could be the difference between a good night’s sleep or parking on an off ramp on the interstate.

The FMCSA reported that 98 percent of drivers have a problem finding safe parking in every state and region and the most frequent period for shortages is from 4:00 pm to 5:00 am. I’d be willing to bet that even the corporate headquarters of trucking companies have parking spaces vacated by salaried employees during those hours.

Instead of passing the ball to next player, what if you stopped and addressed the invisible gorilla and invited him to be on the team?

I reached out to Anthony Petitte, CEO of TruckPark Inc. to ask him how technology can resolve the issue of truck parking. Their app allows a driver to reserve and pay for secure parking. 

Without drivers, you cannot operate. Without drivers, we cannot be economically sustainable. Want to be an agent of change? Put your drivers first and hear their outcries. Pay for parking, fuel, maintenance and give them the best health care benefits. This is a simple request and will save companies millions. Stop focusing on the money and worry about the people who built it. That will make you truly successful.” – Anthony Petitte CEO of TruckPark Inc. 

Every trucking company has a place for their own drivers to park. Why not open those spots to your competitor’s drivers? Stop passing the ball off while you ignore the invisible gorilla. Let’s work together as an industry and solve this without waiting for the government. 

Topics:Life on the RoadEllen's Blog

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