You’re driving down the road. It’s been a long day and you’re looking for a place to park but there’s nothing in sight. You drive a few more miles down the road and still, nowhere to park your rig and rest. Now, you have to pick from two options: operate your vehicle illegally or park illegally. Either choice will create problems for you and those around you on the road. This is a scenario that more and more truckers are facing every day. For truckers, the issue of not enough parking is becoming just as big of a problem as the driver shortage. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for the industry to determine the cause of the problem, and of course, find a viable solution.
Too Many Wheels, Not Enough Parking
The ELD Mandate
The acronym “ELD” stands for Electronic Logging Device. This device records a driver’s hours of service (HOS) and reports them to their employers. This data is also helpful to industry researchers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Authority (FMCSA) outlined a mandate related to ELDs in December of 2016. One of many trucking industry regulations, the ELD mandate requires that all trucks built after the year 2000 must have an ELD logging device. The FMCSA has made some exceptions for trucks already using ELD devices that meet the standard criteria.
The ELD mandate includes:
- Rules for device manufacturers
- How the devices collect (HOS) data
- What to do if your ELD breaks
- Driver privacy specifications
- How DOT drivers will check the devices
ELD Mandate and Parking Issues
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently found information on the ELD mandate and truck driver parking problems. They reported that truck drivers with ELDs are spending approximately 30 minutes longer searching for parking spaces than those without ELDs. These devices monitor a trucker’s driving hours, so the driver is more likely to worry about finding a parking space quickly. They do not have the same flexibility as truckers without ELDs.
Trucks that are not required to use ELDs typically use paper logs to document their hours within 15-minute blocks. ELDs report information down to the minute. By spending more time trying to park, drivers are losing more money every hour.
Not Enough Parking for Drivers
Truckers need time to rest, sleep, and take care of their bodies while on the road. This self-care keeps them from being a danger to themselves and to other drivers. Unfortunately, more drivers are admitting that they can’t find a safe places to park. According to the United States Department of Labor statistics, 40 truck drivers were murdered from 2010 to 2014 while working. The lack of parking options for truck drivers means that more of them are parking in less populated and poorly lit areas. Parking in these conditions make drivers an easy target for criminals.
Cargo theft is a major issue directly related to these parking problems. Drivers frequently report stolen loads and vandalized cabs, especially when they are forced to park in more questionable areas. Drivers are also falling asleep at the wheel, spilling their hauls, and causing more accidents due to sleep deprivation. The negative effects of drivers left without places to park are becoming more evident as time goes on. Though the police charge truckers for illegally parking on the sides of highways or ramps, this doesn’t solve the problem of inadequate parking. In fact, it makes it worse.
During the week, drivers typically look for parking from 4 p.m. to midnight. Despite having over 3 million truck drivers on the nation’s roads, parking is only available to roughly 300,000 of those truckers. Kind of a Titanic situation going on here, right?
After the fatal shooting of Jason Rivenburg, the government began taking more of an interest in parking availability for truck drivers. Rivenburg was ahead of schedule and was forced to park in an abandoned gas station parking lot to sleep overnight. After being robbed of $7 and fatally shot, the government enacted “Jason’s Law” to help fund and construct parking for truck drivers. However, of the $231 million dollars raised in project requests, not even half was allotted to parking.
While organizations like the American Trucking Association and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association are also getting involved, the issue of not enough parking for truck drivers will probably continue for years to come.
For some tips on how you can find parking as a truck driver, check out our video below!