The truck parking shortage is not a new issue. It has plagued the trucking industry for years, and many fear that it will last long into 2017. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), there are more than 3 million truckers in the United States. However, there is only parking available for approximately 300,000 trucks. Many states are reporting parking needs, primarily along major transit corridors and in dense metropolitan areas. This shortage leaves many truckers struggling to find a suitable place to rest for the night. This problem has many negative repercussions, such as cargo theft and accidents.
Below are just a few reasons why the truck parking shortage may or may not change in the near future.
The Truck Parking Shortage Situation WILL Improve Because of:
Luckily, a new wave of mobile apps is helping drivers find parking. Apps like Park My Truck and TruckerPath help drivers locate parking options by determining a driver’s location and the availability of spots in the area.
Many experts, like TruckerPath CEO Ivan Tsybaev, say that the problem isn’t a lack of trucking spots, but a difficulty of finding these locations. In an interview with FleetOwner, he explained, “We actually found out that during busiest night hours we still get at least 9% of updates indicating parking lots are empty for every state. And this is not even counting ‘partially empty’ updates,” Tsybaev added. “And [the] percent of full parking in the busiest time (11 pm to 4 am on working days) is not more than 70%.” This indicates that the issue is less of a truck parking shortage, but more of a logistical issue. These apps offer a solution to that problem and it is not as expensive as creating entirely new parking spaces.
While apps are helpful, some new parking areas must be built. There are a few programs that give financial help to both states and trucking companies to address the issue. A current initiative called “Jason’s Law” gives financial aid to states who are implementing programs to combat the truck parking shortage. Other programs plan to turn old industrial sites and parking lots into truck parking. Hopefully, these initiatives will begin to gain traction as the parking situation continues to become a bigger issue.
The Truck Parking Shortage WILL NOT Improve Because:
Rest Area Services Are Expanding
This seems like a good idea, right? Rest area services will expand, therefore creating more space for truckers to park. Well, not exactly. The Federal Highway Commission is actually looking to add more attractions for tourists. More commercial activities will mean more visitors, and more visitors decrease the available space truck driver parking. So, commercializing truck stops to cater to tourists may seem like a good idea, but it will do more harm than good in terms of accommodating truckers.
Parking Still Isn’t Safe
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40 big-rig drivers were murdered between 2010 through 2014. The majority of these deaths were a result of limited parking availability. Drivers who cannot find a safe place to park are more vulnerable to roadside incidents like accidents and even robberies. More than 75 percent of truck drivers told an FHC survey that they “regularly” experienced “problems with finding safe parking locations when rest was needed”. About 90 percent also reported difficulties with finding safe parking at night.
Some truckers will opt to continue driving without adequate sleep because they can’t find a place to park. This not only puts the truckers in jeopardy, but it also poses a safety risk to other drivers on the road. Falling asleep at the wheel causes many accidents, and this trend is particularly relevant to truck drivers. So, the shortage of parking spots could continue to put thousands of lives at risk every year.
Many government officials believe that these accidents occur because drivers refuse to stop and rest. The reality is, there aren’t enough safe spaces available to truckers. This parking shortage forces truckers to continue drive without getting enough rest. As long as officials continue to ignore this problem, the shortage will continue.
Change is Expensive
One of the biggest factors causing the truck parking shortage is the amount of money it would cost to make the necessary changes. With talks of cutting programs and changing tax rates, the government simply isn’t focused on the parking shortage at the moment. Although there are a few programs in place, there has been little improvement over the last few years when it comes to the truck parking shortage.
One of the only things that truckers can do is to support open dialogue between local and national governments to find a viable solution. You can also check out the video below tips on finding a safe place to park your rig!