Truck parking has been a problem for years in many places in North America. “It’s coming to a head now as some of it is driven by the electronic data logging,” said Philip Bigelow, a professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.
Bigelow is part of a group seeking the opinions of Canadian and U.S. truckers on truck parking that will be presented to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to help determine where additional truck parking is needed in the province. They are also seeking what kind of amenities truck drivers need and want at truck stops.
“There has been a demand for space for years and no one is giving up room for truck parking,” Bigelow told Fleet Owner this week. “Unfortunately the drivers are the middle person who just sucks it up.”
The broad-based survey, which is active until Feb. 28, can be accessed at surveycentral.ca. It takes less than 15 minutes to complete. The confidential survey is open to both Canadian and U.S. truck drivers and is available in English and French.
In the U.S., there is Jason’s Law, which prioritized federal funding to address limited truck parking. Jason’s Law is named for truck driver Jason Rivenburg, who was robbed and fatally shot in South Carolina in 2009 after pulling off to rest at an abandoned gas station.
“We haven’t had something like that but the same risks are there,” Bigelow said. “But a 2010 survey found that more than half of drivers drove over their service hours to find parking. Something that is happening in Canada is that people are parking illegally. And illegally parked trucks can cause accidents.”
This survey asks about the shortage of parking along southern Ontario highways — and the hardships this causes drivers: Such as lost time, lost earnings, frustration and aggravation.
“The drivers lose money by not finding parking,” Bigelow said. “If they don’t know where they are going to park or the place is full, they are going to get a ticket and lose money.”
Some of the questions are about specific roadways in Ontario and others are more general about truck stops, rest areas and secondary roads.
In past trucker surveys, Bigelow said, they’ve found that drivers wany parking, security and clean bathrooms and showers at truck stops. “Unfortunately exercise has not been big on the list,” the professor said.
Bigelow, whose area of research is in truck driver wellness, would like to see more exercise facilities at truck stops. He is focused on improving the health and behavior of truck drivers.
While drivers don’t tend to say that is an important aspect of a truck stop, he noted that truckers are talking more about healthy food nowadays than they did in the past.
“A number of them are saying they would really like healthy food in truck stops as well,” Bigelow said. “If they don’t have the right environment, they are not going to be able to adopt the healthy behaviors.”
He cited a US National Long-Haul study that found that truck drivers are more obese than other workers, have a higher rate of heart disease and diabetes. “All of these chronic diseases are higher in drivers. And it’s because of their job.”
And this all ties into parking. Because if you can’t park, if you can’t eat healthily, and if you can’t exercise — you are more likely to be fatigued while operating heavy machines.
This study, Bigelow said, is all about the truckers having their say. “It’s like voting. If you don’t vote, you shouldn’t be complaining.”
The study has received support from the Ontario Trucking Association, the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, the Owner-Operator's Business Association of Canada (OBAC), the Women's Trucking Federation of Canada and individual truck drivers such as Johanne Couture of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).
The overall study including this survey, along with engineering proposals for adding more parking and truck-related services, should be available by spring or early summer this year, according to SPR Associates, which is managing the survey.