Insufficient Parking for Truck Drivers Affects us All
Households and businesses across the country rely on America’s trucking industry for the delivery of their goods. In fact, the trucking industry moves more than 71% of freight nationwide. As America’s 3.36 million professional truck drivers travel the country to deliver everything we need, one issue that drivers face is a nationwide shortage of truck parking.
This issue may seem inconsequential, but a shortage of truck parking has been a detriment for truck drivers and the industry for decades. Here’s why. There are approximately 313,000 truck parking spaces available nationwide. With over 3 million truck drivers on America’s roads today, there is clearly not enough spaces for trucks to safely wind down after a shift. In fact, there is only one truck parking space for every 11 drivers. The shortage can be a real problem for us all as we rely on truck deliveries on that last mile to our doorsteps and store shelves.
Insufficient capacity of truck parking is not just an inconvenience for truck drivers looking for a spot to sleep, stretch or take a break after their shift ends — it’s a matter of safety. Current regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration require truck drivers to take mandated breaks after driving for a certain number of hours. When drivers cannot find safe, designated spots to park their truck, they are forced to either park in unsafe or illegal locations and continue to drive to search for safer, legal alternatives. Drivers, in turn, are often left without reliable access to restrooms, food, and well-lit facilities.
In addition to negatively impacting a driver’s health and well-being, the lack of sufficient parking diminishes driver productivity, which means higher operating costs. And a real consequence of the time spent looking for parking is that it costs the average driver about $5,500 in direct lost compensation — or a 12% cut in annual pay. And all of this slows down the delivery of America’s goods. Truck drivers are a critical link in the U.S. supply chain, and the shortage of truck parking prevents the swift delivery of goods to our homes and stores. The lack of parking also results in excessive fuel use and unnecessary emissions as drivers search for a spot to park.
As the industry grows each year to meet demand for delivering our nation’s freight, more and more drivers are needed. The industry currently faces a shortage of at least 80,000 drivers to meet current supply chain needs. The scarcity of truck parking spaces for drivers is a major problem that will continue to worsen year after year unless it is resolved.
You may be surprised to learn that the lack of sufficient truck parking is a major factor contributing to the industry’s retention problems. Truck drivers consistently rank truck parking availability as a top industry concern in annual driver surveys. In fact, in a recent Trucker Path survey, 85% of drivers cited parking challenges as the top cause of stress at work.
The trucking industry has been raising awareness of the truck parking shortage among our federal, state and local officials to seek their help and support in addressing this critical problem so that trucking can continue to deliver for America. Last year, for example, Congress approved legislation that would dedicate $1 billion to create parking capacity. While this proposal does not address truck parking alone, it does incentivize state and local partners to solve the problem. Now, we need our local representatives to learn more about this grant funding to help increase truck parking capacity on our local roads.
Another proposal currently being considered in Congress is the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 2187), which would provide further assistance by establishing a grant program and dedicating $755 million over five years to fund truck parking projects across the country. Our federal representatives should support this important piece of legislation.
Supporting America’s truck drivers needs to be a priority for our lawmakers. We need support across all levels of government to prioritize the expansion of truck parking capacity to ensure that truck drivers remain safe, fleets are more productive and that the industry as whole can be more resilient today and in the future.