WASHINGTON — Bipartisan legislation aimed at creating safe, secure parking sites for commercial truckers was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives March 29. Under H.R.6104, known as the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, $755 million would be set aside from the federal Highway Trust Fund to help states finance projects that would increase the nation’s number of truck parking spaces.
The bill’s original cosponsors, Reps. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) — a former truck driver — and Angie Craig (D-Minn.), were joined by Reps. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Susan Wild (D-Pa.), Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Pete Stauber (R-Minn.).
“I grew up in a family trucking business and spent years driving over the road,” Bost said. “Since then, we’ve seen the need for more trucks and drivers increase significantly, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when trucking helped to keep our economy going. However, the number of truck parking spaces hasn’t kept pace. That means that drivers are forced to park in unsafe locations, which puts both them and other motorists at risk. Creating sufficient parking options for long-haul truckers will not only help keep truckers safe during their rest breaks but will also mean safer roads for everyone.”
Currently, there are more than 11 truck drivers for every one parking space. Studies show that 98% of drivers report problems finding safe truck parking, and the average driver spends 56 minutes of available drive time every day looking for parking. That wasted time amounts to a $5,500 loss in annual compensation, equivalent to a 12% annual pay cut. Moreover, 58% of all drivers admit to parking in unauthorized or undesignated spots at least three times per week to meet their parking needs.
“Without adequate parking, truck drivers are forced to pull to the side of the road or continue driving — both of which are risky,” Craig said. “I’m proud to join Rep. Bost to reintroduce the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, which would increase truck parking spaces and improve safety for the folks who transport our goods, and everyone on our roads.”
Trucking associations and other groups — including American Trucking Associations (ATA), Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), National Association of Small Trucking Companies, National Motorists Association, Transportation Intermediaries Association, American Highway Users Alliance and Institute for Safer Trucking — were quick to voice support of the bill.
Chris Spear, president and CEO of ATA, extended a word of thanks to Bost, Craig, Garamendi, Wild, Johnson and Stauber for their “unwavering leadership” on the issue of safe parking.
“The severe shortage of safe parking presents truckers with an untenable dilemma: either keep driving when they are fatigued and possibly in violation of their federal hours-of-service requirement — or park in unsafe, sometimes illegal locations, such as a roadside shoulder,” Spear said. “The health and well-being of our drivers, the safety of the motoring public and the sustainability of our supply chain all depend on Congress addressing this issue with adequate funding in a surface transportation bill.”
Funding could be used for the construction of new truck parking facilities, the expansion of truck parking at existing rest areas, the conversion of space at existing weigh stations or any other projects that would increase a site’s truck parking capacity. Funding would be awarded on a competitive basis, and applicants would be required to submit detailed proposals to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
“We’ve been sounding the alarm on the truck parking crisis for decades,” said Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA. “While Congress and the Federal Highway Administration have tried to address this issue with the enactment of Jason’s Law and launching the National Coalition on Truck Parking, the continued growth of the parking shortage shows the status quo is not sustainable. Congress must provide dedicated federal investment to expand capacity if it is serious about addressing the problem.”
David Heller, vice president of government affairs for TCA, said the lack of safe truck parking is top of mind for the association.
“Truck parking consistently ranks as one of the most important issues for the Truckload Carriers Association and trucking stakeholders across the country. On a daily basis, our companies’ drivers face dangerous conditions due to the lack of safe and convenient parking options,” Heller said. “TCA applauds Representatives Bost and Craig for their dedication to resolving this critical safety obstacle through this legislation, which will devote significant funding toward the development of suitable parking on our nation’s highways.”
The legislation would not only benefit the trucking industry; it could also help make the nation’s roadways safer for all drivers, according to Gary Biller, president of the National Motorists Association.
“Overall, more Highway Trust Fund money needs to be spent on improving/expanding roads and bridges, but that should not be at the exclusion of adequate parking facilities for commercial motor vehicles,” Biller noted. “An expansion of options for long-haul truck drivers made possible by the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act will benefit all highway users.”