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House, Senate introduce bill to expand truck parking

March 30, 2023
The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act establishes a competitive grant program—totaling $755 million—for nationwide projects that provide commercial truck parking and improve safety for truck drivers.

Most of the nation’s freight is moved by truck. Yet, there’s only one parking spot for every 11 trucks on the road, resulting in drivers wasting an average of one hour every day trying to secure safe parking.

New legislation, however, aims to dramatically increase designated parking spaces for commercial trucks and is garnering a lot of industry support.

The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, which was introduced in the 117th Congress and unanimously passed the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, would invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the creation of new truck parking spaces.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has announced its strong support for the bipartisan measure, which was introduced by U.S. Sens. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) and Mark Kelly (D-Arizona), and U.S. Reps. Mike Bost (R-Illinois) and Angie Craig (D-Minnesota).

See also: Bipartisan Senate bill would fund expanded truck parking

“Most folks probably don’t realize that 70% of American freight is transported by truck, yet, incredibly, there is only one parking spot for every 11 trucks on the road,” Todd Spencer, OOIDA president, said in a statement. “When truck drivers don’t have a designated place to park, they end up parking on the side of the road, near exit ramps, or elsewhere. This isn’t safe for the driver and it’s not safe for others on the road.”

Under the measure, grants for commercial truck parking projects would be awarded on a competitive basis and applicants would be required to submit detailed proposals to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The primary focus would be to construct new truck parking facilities and convert existing weigh stations and rest areas into functional parking spaces for truck drivers.

The legislation sets aside a total of $755 million for trucking parking projects, with DOT allocating $175 million for fiscal year 2024, $260 million for fiscal year 2025, and $320 million for fiscal year 2026.

See also: Truck parking startup lets businesses rent space to drivers

“Wyoming is home to three major interstates that carry thousands of tons of cargo a day. Without safe truck parking, truckers spend an unnecessary amount of time searching for a place to park—putting truckers and Wyoming drivers at greater risk for accidents. This is easily solvable, and I am thankful to Senator Kelly for joining me in finding a commonsense solution,” Lummis stated. “People in Wyoming are still feeling the impacts of the supply chain crisis, and unreliable truck parking is another contributing factor to that. Fixing the parking problem will help ease this burden on consumers.”

A top concern among drivers

Drivers recently ranked the lack of parking as their No. 1 concern in the annual American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) Top Industry Issues report. The overall industry ranked it No. 3—behind fuel prices and the driver shortage.

Additionally, trucks parked on highway shoulders, exit and entrance ramps, vacant lots, and side streets create an immediate safety hazard for truck drivers and other roadway users. The safety aspect also is especially important to keeping women in the driver’s seat.

“The top reason female commercial drivers leave the industry is because they are concerned about their personal safety,” said Ellen Voie, founder of the Women In Trucking Association. “Parking areas need to be safe and available for breaks when needed. The Women In Trucking Association supports this legislation because our mission includes addressing obstacles, and a safe place to rest is something our members absolutely need and deserve while moving our nation’s goods." 

American Trucking Associations also lauded the legislation, citing the parking shortage as having a costly, measurable impact on supply chain efficiency, driver health and well-being, highway safety, and the environment.

"The lack of safe and accessible truck parking places an enormous and costly burden on our nation's truck drivers as they work to deliver for the American people,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said in a statement. “Given the chronic nature of this issue and its national scope, it is imperative Congress takes action to provide dedicated funding to expand commercial truck parking capacity.”

ATA also pointed out that when truck drivers are unable to find safe, authorized parking, they're stuck in a no-win situation—forced to either park in unsafe or illegal locations, or to violate federal hours-of-service rules that regulate their daily drive time to search for safer, legal alternatives.

According to DOT, 98% of drivers regularly experience problems finding safe parking. The agency also indicated that the truck parking shortage exists in every state and region and is most acute along major freight corridors. In addition, some 70% of drivers have been forced to violate federal hours-of-service rules because of this common scenario.

To ensure they can find a safe and legal space, truck drivers often park prior to exhausting available drive time, surrendering an average of 56 minutes of valuable drive time per day, according to ATRI. The time spent looking for available truck parking costs the average driver about $5,500 in direct lost compensation—or a 12% cut in annual pay.

About the Author

Cristina Commendatore

Cristina Commendatore was previously the Editor-in-chief of FleetOwner magazine. She reported on the transportation industry since 2015, covering topics such as business operational challenges, driver and technician shortages, truck safety, and new vehicle technologies. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

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