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OOIDA advocates for more truck parking in letter to Buttigieg

Dec. 1, 2021
Todd Spencer, president and CEO of OOIDA, requests that $1 billion of discretionary funds in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act be dedicated to adding more parking for truck drivers.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) submitted a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Nov. 29 requesting that $1 billion of discretionary funds in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) be dedicated to the national shortage of truck parking.

In the letter, Todd Spencer, president and CEO of OOIDA, urged that truckers need a safe place to rest when they’re tired and to comply with mandatory breaks required by federal regulations. 

“If truck drivers can’t find a safe and legal parking space, they are forced to park in unsafe locations, such as road shoulders or vacant lots, or continue driving when they may want to take a break or are in violation of hours-of-service requirements,” Spencer said. “This creates safety issues not only for truckers, but for the motoring public as well.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and numerous states have been studying this issue for decades and have all concluded that there is a shortage of parking. Most recently, USDOT released the results of its updated 2019 Jason’s Law Survey in December 2020. The survey found that truck parking shortages are a major problem in every state and region, and that the problem continues to worsen.

“We are well past the time for more studies and observations,” Spencer continued. “Instead, it is time to take meaningful steps to expand truck parking capacity, and that begins with significant federal investment. We are extremely disappointed that the IIJA does not dedicate any funding exclusively to truck parking, despite the broad bipartisan and industry support for federal investment. 

“With the significant amount of new discretionary funding your department will be responsible for allocating under the IIJA, we believe that you have the ability to direct funding to critical truck parking projects across the country,” Spencer said. “We believe $1 billion is an appropriate level of funding to build out truck parking capacity.”

Spencer called out the significant bipartisan support in Congress and from across industry for this amount: 

  • The bipartisan Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 2187) would dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars for the expansion of truck parking capacity. 
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio included $1 billion for truck parking construction in the House-passed highway bill, the INVEST in America Act. 
  • Ranking Member Sam Graves also addressed truck parking in Republicans’ reauthorization proposal and pushed for the inclusion of funding in the Build Back Better bill. 
  • There also is broad support for this level of commitment from industry, law enforcement, and safety groups. 

“There are very few trucking issues where you will find this type of comprehensive stakeholder agreement on a solution,” Spencer noted. 

According to Spencer, supporting truck parking efforts would also help in driver retention across the industry.

“[Buttigieg has] spoken about the need to make truck driving a more viable and sustainable career for those entering the industry and the countless Americans already making their living behind the wheel,” Spencer said. “[He’s] recognized firsthand that the mythical shortage of drivers is tied directly to retention. Truckers consistently rank the lack of truck parking as one of their top concerns, and there are few better ways you could improve their safety and livelihoods than by addressing the parking crisis."

“It should not be a shock to anyone that good drivers leave the trucking industry over the inability to find something as basic as a safe place to rest when they are weary,” Spencer concluded. “We can and should do better by these absolutely and always essential workers.”

Read the full letter here to find out where truck parking is already eligible for funding.

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