Anyone who has been on trucking jobs in the last few years knows there is a parking crisis. Trucks have always had a difficult time finding parking spots, but parking shortage is definitely a hot issue. One K & J driver put it like this, "I find that I often have trouble getting good parking, or any parking at all." And his experience isn't unique. A 2015 study revealed that 90% of drivers reported difficulty finding safe, available parking during the nighttime hours. And 75% of study responders said that they had trouble finding available parking during their legally-mandated rest times.
More Trucks, Less Spots
The reality is that there are more trucks on the road than ever before. Truckers are also required to rest more than ever before—but there just aren't enough spots, and they aren't often along the routes truckers use most. Complicating the issue, many companies will not allow truckers to park on their premises even though they have the space during non-peak hours. Ironically, drivers are being forced to find non-legal parking in order to meet the legal requirement of rest. Some speculate these factors are leading tired drivers to stay on the road and that means more accidents.
According to the same 2015 study cited above, private truck stops along the most frequently traveled routes (such as I-95, I-40, I-80, I-10 and I-81) report having less than 100 parking spots available; without exception most of those are full at night, and often during the day as well. And public spots are even worse.
Big Truck, Tiny Spot
Because of space restrictions, drivers are trying to fit into spots much too small; and this is causing more body damage insurance claims. If you drive by any truck stop, you'll likely see trucks packed closely together like sardines. It is an environment that easily breeds accidents. More accidents means more trucks off the road and less trucks delivering necessary consumer goods.
In 2009, Jason Rivenburg, was a victim of arson while parked in an abandoned gas station lot. Jason was on a trucking job waiting to unload at a nearby facility, but the facility wouldn't allow him in until his scheduled unloading time. His wife speculates that he would still be alive today if there had been safer parking options available during his wait.
Jason's Law was put into effect in 2012, allotting federal funding for the creation of safe, well-lit, public parking for truckers. But the harsh reality is that truck parking is low on the list of government priorities, and often it is pushed to the side in favor of more popular projects.
Looking to the Future
Building parking isn't glamorous. Most people don't see the need or the value. With trucks carrying more and more of our goods what will come of the shortage? For now we can only speculate. If the past is any indicator, things will get worse before they get better.