The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is asking the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for a major investment to combat a lack of safe truck parking spaces.
In a letter sent to U.S Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Monday, OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer called for $1 billion in federal funding tied to the newly passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to be set aside to address a critical and long-standing lack of truck parking opportunities.
Currently, IIJA does not include funds earmarked for truck parking, but OOIDA calls for DOT to utilize “discretionary funding” to pay for the projects.
The letter points to the updated 2019 Jason’s Law Survey released in December 2020 which concluded that “truck parking shortages are a major problem in every state and region, and that the problem continues to worsen.”
OOIDA says that there is currently “significant” bipartisan support in Congress for investing in truck parking.
The letter addresses safety issues tied to the truck parking shortage:
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. This creates safety issues not only for truckers, but for the motoring public as well.
Spencer also says that current supply chain woes could be at least partially alleviated by adding more truck parking spaces:
Fixing the parking shortage will also help address ongoing supply chain disruptions. Studies indicate truckers spend on average 56 minutes a day of driving time looking for parking. By reducing this wasted time, USDOT can help alleviate supply chain issues by enabling drivers to be more efficient. To put this in context, MIT Professor David Correll, who specializes in supply chains and trucking research, said during a recent House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing that if all truckers added just 18 minutes of driving time to their working day, it would add enough capacity to address the alleged “driver shortage.” While we know there is no shortage of drivers, this shows that the time wasted finding parking directly affects the current disruptions.
The letter concludes by pointing out that increasing available truck parking is an essential step in making trucking a more attractive career option and could help to reduce driver turnover.
You have 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. You’ve 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. We can and should do better by these absolutely and always essential workers!