WASHINGTON — There are currently only 313,000 truck parking spaces in the United States.
That isn’t anywhere near enough for the almost 3.5 million truck drivers who haul America’s goods from ports and warehouses to stores for consumers.
According to data from the Truckload Carriers Association, there is just one truck parking space for every 11 drivers.
As such, truck parking is often listed as one of the top issues facing truckers today.
In late September, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) convened state, industry and federal leaders at a meeting of the National Coalition of Truck Parking to share resources available in the President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to address the nation’s truck parking shortage.
USDOT officials say the issue “puts all road users at risk and is costing truck drivers time and money.”
At the meeting, USDOT shared a new handbook for states that details strategies for developing truck parking, along with best practices on designing and constructing new truck parking.
Officials also discussed the new and expanded funding resources that are available for truck parking projects to make the United States’ freight system safer and more efficient.
USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he has heard directly from truck drivers and industry partners that the availability of truck parking is a top concern for drivers.
“ … it costs them time and money — not to mention making our roads less safe and weakening our supply chains,” 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.”
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association wrote a joint letter to USDOT earlier this year citing that 98% percent 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.
Earlier this month, for the first time ever, USDOT announced significant investments to expand the nation’s truck parking capacity on the interstate system through the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight & Highway Projects program.
These first-of-their-kind investments included $15 million to add approximately 120 new truck parking spaces along the Interstate 4 corridor in Florida between Tampa and Orlando and a $22.6 million investment to add approximately 125 spaces along Interstate 40 east of Nashville.
The ATA thanked USDOT officials for their commitment to expanding the nation’s truck parking capacity.
In a letter to ATA President and CEO Chris Spear, Buttigieg pledged the administration’s support for increasing the availability of safe parking options for America’s professional truck drivers through its Trucking Action Plan, grant funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and increased coordination with state departments of transportation and the trucking industry.
“We thank Secretary Buttigieg and the administration for their ongoing commitment to America’s professional truck drivers,” Spear said. “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 … funds continue flowing toward this urgent need.”
A USDOT report found 98% of drivers regularly experience problems finding safe parking. Studies by the American Transportation Research Institute have found that drivers surrender an average of 56 minutes of valuable drive time per day to find parking, directly costing them about $5,500 in lost compensation — or a 12% cut in annual pay
“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,” 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.”
USDOT officials say these projects will improve safety, freight operations and make freight transportation more sustainable. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also awarded $1.4 million in grant funding to Montana and Kentucky to improve truck parking through its High Priority Innovative Technology Deployment grants.
“One of the leading causes of truck crashes is driver fatigue. 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,” FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson said. “We are proactively working at the local and regional level to point to the numerous resources across USDOT for truck parking construction, expansion, and technology solutions, and we will continue to work collaboratively with agencies within USDOT and with all of our partners in the industry.”
Additionally, USDOT 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.
“Truck parking is a safety issue — both for truck drivers and all other road users, which is why FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) has updated our guidance to ensure there is no question about eligibility for truck parking projects in new formula and discretionary grant programs authorized under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said FHWA Acting Administrator Stephanie Pollack.
“This new information will help states, localities and other eligible entities identify eligible formula funding sources and apply for discretionary grants to fund truck parking projects that not only support the increased demand for truck deliveries and strengthen our supply chains, but also provide safe truck parking, which is critical to protect the truck drivers we rely on, as well as the traveling public.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.