Nowhere to park

One of the reasons for the driver shortage that we haven’t even mentioned in our previous blogs is lack of parking available to truck drivers.

We talked about how big the industry is earlier this month, but the parking infrastructure hasn’t really adapted to the growing freight market size. Trucks haul over 70% of the $200+ billion-dollar freight market so you can probably imagine how many parking options are needed to accommodate that many trucks on the road.

In the United States alone, there are over 3.5 million truck drivers moving freight across the country. Industrywide, there is only one parking space for every 11 truck drivers according to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). That seems like a serious problem, right?

It isn’t just an issue of convenience, though. It’s a major safety concern as well. Drivers get tired and want to take a nap. They have DOT regulations they are required to follow- 30-minute breaks, 10-hour breaks, 34-hour breaks. In bad weather, they need to get off the road for their own safety, but also public safety. What happens when there isn’t any parking available? What should drivers do now?

The answer is one no one wants to hear. It forces them to park illegally, go over their DOT mandated hours, and park in less-than-safe locations. We can all imagine the level of stress and anxiety that could create. So much for getting a quality night’s sleep when you’re worried about law enforcement siting you or potentially being attacked.

Truck drivers are leaving at a faster rate than ever- and this is one major reason for it. Parking has been an increasing problem for decades, but the COVID pandemic made it much worse because many locations closed permanently. The ones that remain open are over-crowded.

Add the amount of time it takes out of their day to find parking- nearly an hour a day- to the cost of parking to guarantee a spot, drivers are losing over $10,000 annually due to lack of parking infrastructure. Would you do a job that takes that kind of money out of your pocket? There would have to be some incredible benefits to outweigh that cost and stress.

The Truck Parking Safety Act was introduced last year in the House of Representatives, but it hasn’t had a committee hearing yet. The act includes $755 million for truck parking capacity. We will have to wait and see what comes of it.