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DOT turns attention to truck parking solutions

Oct. 4, 2022
The federal agency, which has a new Truck Parking Handbook, is highlighting nearly $40 million in grants for state truck parking projects. The White House has made parking part of its Trucking Action Plan.

The U.S. Department of Transportation brought together state, trucking industry, and federal leaders to address the national truck parking shortage at the National Coalition of Truck Parking meeting. With grant money and a new handbook on commercial truck parking, the federal agency and the White House are beginning to create solutions for a problem that has hampered the trucking industry for years. 

“I’ve heard from countless truckers across the country about how the shortage of truck parking costs them time and money—not to mention making our roads less safe and weakening our supply chains,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “We’re using funds from President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law to help address truck parking shortages, and we’re working with state and industry leaders to develop more parking that will improve safety and quality of life for our nation’s truck drivers.”

See also: Opinion: The time suck of truck parking

According to the DOT, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes resources to address the truck parking shortage. The federal department created a new handbook for states that includes strategies for developing truck parking and best practices for maintaining parking. At the Sept. 30 meeting, officials also discussed new and expanded funding resources for truck parking projects along U.S. freight corridors. This meeting, according to DOT, built on the Biden administration’s Trucking Action Plan, which focused on creating a stable and safe trucking workforce that offers good-paying jobs to millions of truck drivers.

“We thank Secretary Buttigieg and the administration for their ongoing commitment to America’s professional truck drivers,” said Chris Spear, American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) president and CEO. “The secretary has stated how important the issue of truck parking is to him and his department, and we are extremely grateful that he is delivering on that intention. This issue is imperative for both highway safety and supply chain efficiency, and we look forward to continued partnership with USDOT as it works to ensure IIJA funds continue flowing toward this urgent need.”

Buttigieg said he heard directly from drivers and trucking industry leaders that parking availability is a top concern for drivers. Both ATA and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association have pointed out to DOT that 98% of drivers report problems finding safe parking, costing drivers more than 56 minutes of drive time to find parking. That wasted time is estimated to cause a $5,500 loss in annual compensation—roughly a 12% pay cut.

Reflecting on the concerns of drivers and industry partners, expanding truck parking is a priority for DOT. In September, the federal agency announced investments to expand truck parking capacity on the interstate system through the INFRA program. These investments included $15 million to add about 120 new truck parking spaces along the Interstate 4 "Disney corridor" in Florida between Tampa and Orlando and a $22.6 million investment to add 125 spaces along I-40 east of Nashville, Tennessee.

These projects would improve safety, freight operations, and make freight transportation more sustainable, according to DOT. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also awarded $1.4 million in grants to Montana and Kentucky to improve truck parking through its High Priority Innovative Technology Deployment grants.

See also: Industry still behind in race for enough truck parking spaces

“One of the leading causes of truck crashes is driver fatigue,” FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson said. “It is clear that adequate rest for drivers is foundational for safe operations. We have heard loud and clear from drivers—they need more places to rest and they need to be safe and secure while doing so. We are proactively working at the local and regional level to point to the numerous resources across DOT for truck parking construction, expansion, and technology solutions, and we will continue to work collaboratively with agencies within DOT and with all of our partners in the industry.”

Additionally, DOT has updated guidance on the sources of federal funding that are eligible for states interested in making further investments in truck parking. States and other government entities can apply for grants or prioritize formula funding for capacity projects from over $47.4 billion in eight programs, according to a federal memorandum

“This issue is of particular importance for women drivers, who repeatedly cite the lack of safe parking options as a deterrent to more women entering the field,” ATA’s Spear said. “Investing in these projects and ensuring all drivers have ready access to safe and well-lit parking facilities is an important step in shifting our industry’s workforce demographics and empowering more women across the country to pursue the rewarding career opportunities that trucking has to offer.”

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