DALLAS — The shortage of parking for truck drivers has been a recurring issue in the trucking industry for decades, but the problem has reached crisis proportions in recent years.
According to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, there is only one parking spot available for every 11 trucks on the road, and a nationwide shortage of more than 40,000 parking spaces. The lack of parking can easily lead to safety issues. When truck drivers near their driving maximums, they can get drowsy while searching for parking or be forced to park along the side of the road or near exit ramps.
As driver advocacy organizations lobby in Washington, D.C., for new legislation to tackle the parking issue, trucking technology company CloudTrucks sought to learn the current state of public awareness of the parking shortage and how Americans feel about solving the crisis.
“Last month (February), we conducted our 2023 Truck Parking Shortage Survey,” a news release stated. “We surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults about their general perceptions of truck drivers and whether they had heard of the truck parking shortage. We then informed respondents about the truck driving shortage and asked about their opinions on possible solutions.”
- Americans generally have positive perceptions of truck drivers, making them more likely to sympathize with the the challenges they face on the road.
- Most respondents did not know about the parking shortage or its effects on truck drivers and their quality of life.
- When presented with information on the parking shortage, most respondents concluded that it is a serious problem.
- Americans with awareness of the parking shortage said the federal government should address the crisis with increased funding and other government-led initiatives.
- Despite their acknowledgment of the urgent need for more parking spaces, most respondents offered a “not in my backyard” response when asked where new facilities should be located.
The research shows most Americans don’t know there is a nationwide truck parking crisis. Most Americans are in favor of more truck parking and want government to act now to address the shortage — as long as the new parking is not in their backyard.
Americans generally have positive perceptions of truck drivers, making them more likely to sympathize with truck drivers’ challenges on the road.
While some commentators have expressed the concern that negative perceptions of truck drivers might influence public opinion on truck parking and other industry issues, the survey showed that Americans hold an overwhelmingly favorable view of truck drivers, saying they are safe drivers who are both overworked and underpaid.
A total of 82% of respondents said truck drivers are “overworked,” compared to just 4% who answered, “underworked,” the study notes. The remaining respondents (14%) answered, “neither overworked nor underworked.”
When asked whether truck drivers are overpaid or underpaid, 58% of respondents answered underpaid compared to just 13% who answered, “overpaid.” The remaining respondents (39%) answered, “neither overpaid nor underpaid.”
A total of 50% of respondents said truckers are “safer drivers than the general public,” and 36% said they are “neither safer nor less safe as drivers than the general public.”
Only 14% said that truckers are “less-safe drivers than the general public.”
When asked why they think people choose to become truck drivers, respondents ascribed largely positive motivations, with 56% of respondents saying it was because they enjoy “the freedom of the open road” or “traveling to new places.”
Another 31% said it was to “earn a high salary compared to other jobs available.”
Most respondents did not know about the parking shortage or its effects on truck drivers and their quality of life.
While having positive sentiments toward truck drivers, most Americans — as represented in this survey — are simply unaware of the challenges truck drivers face in finding parking facilities.
When asked, “Were you aware that there is a nationwide shortage of parking for long-haul truck drivers?” 56% answered, “no.”
“Perhaps because of this knowledge gap, most respondents did not associate safety issues such as drowsy driving with the parking shortage,” the study notes.
When asked, “What are the reasons you think long-haul truckers sometimes drive even though they are drowsy?” 78% blamed the “pressure to meet delivery deadlines” compared to just 21% who said, “they have difficulty finding a safe place to park overnight.”
Many respondents underestimated how many hours a trucker is permitted to drive in a day, with 34% saying “a trucker cannot drive more than 8 consecutive hours,” when federal regulations allow truckers to drive up to 11 hours of daily drive time and be “on duty” for up to 14 hours. When asked where truckers typically sleep while on the job, more than one in five respondents (21%) did not know that drivers sleep in a berth in their trucks.
When presented with information on the parking shortage, most respondents concluded that it was a serious problem. A little more than halfway through the survey, respondents were brought up to speed with the following description of the parking shortage:
There is currently a shortage of parking for long-haul truck drivers in the United States. This is due to several factors, including an increase in the number of trucks on the road, limited space for parking, and restrictive regulations on where trucks can park overnight. The shortage has led to safety concerns as truck drivers are often forced to park in unsafe or illegal locations, leading to accidents and fines. Additionally, the lack of parking has led to increased stress and fatigue for truck drivers, which can negatively impact their performance and safety on the road. According to a report by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the shortage of truck parking is a top concern for the industry. ATRI’s survey found that nearly 63% of truck drivers reported having difficulty finding safe and legal parking, with over 90% saying that the shortage of parking had a negative impact on their quality of life on the road. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that there is a nationwide shortage of more than 40,000 truck parking spaces.
We then asked, “How serious a problem do you think the lack of trucker parking is for the transportation industry?” 86% said it is a “critical” (48%) or “significant” (38%) problem, compared to just 10% who said it was a “minor” (8%) problem or “not a problem” (2%). A total of 4% said they were not sure.
Respondents then connected a number of safety issues to the shortage.
When asked, “What, if any, safety issues have you personally encountered that might have been caused by a lack of trucker parking?” a total of 41% said they had experienced “trucks parked on the side of the road in a way that made it unsafe to pass,” and 38% said they had seen “trucks with truck drivers who appear to be drowsy or falling asleep at the wheel.”
Those surveyed also expressed a desire for more Americans to learn about the parking shortage. A total of 90% of respondents said that increased public awareness of the crisis is needed.
Americans with awareness of the parking shortage said the federal government should take the lead role in addressing the crisis.
Once made aware of the shortage, respondents showed overwhelming support for government action to address the issue. 90% of those surveyed said that federal, state, and/or local governments should devote more funding to the problem, with most (57%) recommending that the federal government serve as a source of funds.
Among specific solutions presented, an increase in government-financed infrastructure was the most popular.
When asked, “What steps should federal, state and/or local governments take to solve the trucker parking shortage?” a total of 67% said that the government should “increase funding for truck parking infrastructure, such as rest areas and truck stops,” compared to 43% who favored “relaxed zoning and land use regulations” and 40% who supported “tax incentives for truck stop chains, trucking companies and other private companies.”
Despite their acknowledgment of the urgent need for more parking spaces, most respondents offered a “not in my backyard” response when asked where new facilities should be located.
Even with knowledge of the parking shortage and their positive sentiments toward truck drivers, many respondents still pushed back on having trucking facilities too close to their homes.
When asked, “How close to your home would you support the construction of new overnight parking facilities for long-haul truckers?” the majority (80%) only support facilities that are at least three miles from their homes, and 5% said they did not support new construction at all. Only 15% said they are comfortable with facilities being within 2 miles of their homes.
Tobenna Arodiogbu, co-founder and CEO of CloudTrucks, said the survey’s results showed overall that increased public awareness can be a game-changer for solving the parking crisis.
“America’s truck parking shortage is dangerous for drivers and the public and costly for the broader transportation and logistics industry. As these survey results indicate, when Americans are educated about the gravity of the problem, they want to see action,” he said. “We all can play a part in ensuring that the resources provided to truck drivers are proportional to how much we value their service in our economy.”
To view the original survey, click here.
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.