One of the most annoying problems the trucking business has to deal with is truck parking. Given that there are only about 313,000 parking spaces available statewide for the 3.5 million drivers, truck parking is a major issue. Due to the conveniences provided, truck drivers will typically park for free at truck stops or rest areas. However, if there isn’t parking available there, people must either take a safety risk by parking in a less-than-ideal location or pay for parking out of pocket.
Many drivers, particularly those who are new to the trucking business, could find it challenging to comprehend why the lack of truck parking is such a problem. The truth is that there isn’t a simple solution.
There are numerous factors contributing to the lack of parking spaces, including:
- The ELD Mandate: Due to the restriction on HOS (hours of service), drivers are now compelled to park after a predetermined amount of time, which raises the demand for spaces.
- Rest sites that are closed: A large number of the nation’s rest facilities require restorations, but frequently, states lack the resources necessary to do so.
- Many shippers are reluctant to allow trucks to park at their pier because they worry that the drivers will leave the area in worse condition than when they arrived, forcing them to clean up after them. Even though it may not be accurate, this is a fact that drivers must deal with.
- RVs and automobiles parking in truck spaces: Due to their size, recreational vehicles and passenger cars are occasionally instructed to park in truck parking spaces. Sometimes these drivers simply lack the knowledge or options to park elsewhere.
So what are some long-term fixes for the truck parking shortage?
- Government level: To increase the nation’s capacity for commercial truck parking, two additional significant government grants were given out in June 2023. The two grants, which together are worth more than $33 million, would add 170 new truck parking places along freight corridors in Texas and Louisiana.
- State-level: The American Transportation Research Institute claims that because many local governments are unaware of just how serious the truck parking issue is, three how-to manuals have been created to assist states in better managing and enhancing their truck parking infrastructure.
- Trucking Associations: In 2022, the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association wrote to the United States. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act money should be given priority to improve truck parking across the country, the Secretary of Transportation has urged.
- Private Sector: Businesses are opening up more and more truck stops across the country to increase the number of parking spaces, and other private businesses are building paid parking lots so truckers may secure a spot in advance.
There are a few things you can manage, even if none of us can quickly alleviate the parking issue. The following actions will help you have the greatest parking experience possible.
Although it may seem laborious to practice parking etiquette, it is the proper thing to do. You can help businesses provide and maintain secure parking for drivers by parking politely.
Below are some parking tips for your vehicle that you can remember:
- Be orderly: Put your trash in the cans, and don’t leave a mess for another driver or a worker at the truck stop or shipping terminal to clean up.
- Back your trailer into the area; don’t headfirst park as this leaves no room for other vehicles. Ensure that the truck’s front is facing outward.
- Before you back into a space, double-check to see if it has already been designated as a reserved space. Check the signage carefully to prevent being asked to move in the middle of the night by a staff member because a poorly designated place will be harder to see.
- Be considerate of other cars by refraining from creating loud noises when parked; we’ve all had a bothersome neighbor at some point.
- Leave no trace: Be considerate of the land and environment around the parking space by not driving on any grass that may be present.
- Get your fuel and move on; don’t park at fuel islands.
Safety must always come first because there are often no other options when parking due to the shortage of spaces. Nobody wants to consider a break-in or something worse, but the truth is that you need to be ready in case something does happen. The following advice will help keep you safe while parking:
- Stay off the shoulder when parking.
- Consider parking in well-lit locations.
- If anything doesn’t feel right in a certain region, trust your gut and leave straight away.
- To avoid becoming a target, make sure your trailer is locked and guarded and keep your cargo a secret from anyone.
- Purchase a sturdy lock for your trailer.
- Lock your doors and draw the drapes.
- Secure your doors with straps and install a temporary alarm system.
- Take into consideration traveling with your dog. They make excellent friends and are excellent at alerting you to intruders. These furry buddies can be deducted from your taxes too!
- Prepare a defense for yourself. In case someone breaks in, keep tools like pepper spray or a baseball bat close at hand.
Truck parking problems are common and often complicated; however, there will always be ways and tools at your disposal that can improve your parking experience. Drive and park safely!