Lack of parking a "pressing issue" for the trucking industry

The April 1 deadline for electronic logging device enforcement has come and gone, which means these devices require stringent adherence to the 11-hour rule since most truckers now can’t fudge on paper logs.

This leads to more drivers hitting their time limits and being forced to park.

But what happens when there simply isn’t enough parking to go around?

The American Transportation Research Institute’s 2017 survey of the industry’s most pressing issues ranks the shortage of available truck parking fourth, right behind the driver shortage, the ELD mandate, and Hours of Service.

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(Source: The American Trucking Research Institute)

In ATRI’s 2016 truck parking diary research, commercial drivers who were ahead of the curve and already used ELDs were nearly twice as likely to spend more than 30 minutes looking for available parking compared to drivers who were using paper logs.

In that same research, ATRI quoted one driver who said, “ELDs leave no room for dealing with full truck stops, making it nearly impossible to preplan.”

ELDS and the lack of parking create dilemmas for truckers who must choose between driving beyond allowable HOS rules or parking in undesignated, often unsafe areas.

In her article, “A Safe Place to Rest,” Maria Koklanaris claims that 80% of the drivers surveyed reported that they were always or often unable to find a parking space in a public rest area at night. When rest areas are full, truckers must make a choice: either drive drowsy or park in a potentially dangerous area.

Jason’s Law

One such situation occurred in 2009 when a trucker, Jason Rivenburg, had just delivered a load in Virginia and was on his way to South Carolina.  Jason was ahead of schedule for his next delivery, a mere 12 miles away.

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He was scheduled to deliver at Food Lion supermarket, but the store would not accept early deliveries. The store would not allow Jason to park on their property and wait until his appointed time, so Jason was forced to pull into an abandoned gas station– the only place with available parking in the area.

A man named Willie Pelzer, a career felon, was at a gas station across the road from the abandoned gas station where Jason had parked, just looking for someone to rob. 

Noticing Jason’s truck, he snuck into his trailer and waited for him to fall asleep. Later that night, Pelzer entered Jason’s truck and shot him twice in the head.  Pelzer walked away with $7.00.

Because of this senseless tragedy, Jason’s Law was passed. This law enables states to improve parking for truck drivers so that when these truckers stop to rest, they are safer and better protected.

But has that improvement really happened?

Just two years ago, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released the congressionally mandated “Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey Results and Comparative Analysis.” This affirmed an issue of which truckers were already well aware, that truck parking continues to be a sizable issue in the U.S.

So what is the solution for the transportation industry’s parking woes? Check back next week as we outline proposed strategies for this very real issue.