Truck parking has always been a concern in the industry. In the 2019 Critical Issues in The Trucking Industry, penned by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the research found truck parking is the fifth-ranked major issue among industry players.
Since 2015, truck parking was in the top five critical issues companies continuously worry about, ahead of other concerns like ELD mandate, infrastructure congestion or funding, and CSA.
One might be surprised to find parking areas as a discussion topic among trucking company officials. After all, it's the drivers who are impacted directly from the inconvenience from the lack of appropriate spots. They are the ones fighting with each other for the area or spending extra time just to find one. Drivers are the ones who have to log out so they can comply with the requirements of Hours of Service (HOS).
What many people fail to realize is that the lack of truck parking directly affects the balance sheets of fleet companies. Thus, commercial truck parking problems put businesses at risk as well.
Just how bad is the problem? According to the American Trucking Association, an estimated three million truck drivers have to fight for 300,000 parking spots on roadways. The shortage is worse in several cities.
A separate study by ATRI revealed that more than half of 58% to be exact of drivers have admitted to leaving their vehicles in undesignated or unauthorized truck parking areas. This percentage pales in comparison to the 11% drivers who said that they follow parking rules diligently.
Some law enforcement leaders may say that a good number of drivers still park illegally even without the shortage. This claim can be countered by the fact that over 25 states have completed or are still working on their truck parking studies and plans. These studies and statistics show that the government recognizes the lack of proper truck parking areas, and is acting to solve the shortage.
What Can Be Done?
In the annual report, the ATRI proposed the following strategies in handling the truck problem challenge:
- Identify the strategic locations on the National Freight Network for new truck parking, particularly the re-opening of shuttered parking areas and investments in new facilities
- The creation of a new federal funding program dedicated to increasing truck parking capacity at freight-critical locations
- Studying the value and role of truck parking reservations and real-time parking information systems using telematics and mobile devices
The absence of sufficient parking for commercial truck fleets poses a real risk to drivers, companies, and law enforcement teams. The increasing numbers of e-commerce shoppers and the growing population in urban areas will further exacerbate the problems in truck parking. It is in the best interest of all stakeholders- government, industry players, and drivers to come together to address and solve the problem. Otherwise, the issue will remain in the top five list of worries for the trucking industry for some time to come.