A problem that has been plaguing the trucking industry for decades was not mentioned once in the Biden Administration’s 2,333 word “Trucking Action Plan,” – Truck parking.
The “Trucking Action Plan” was released in December 2021 amidst the height of holiday emphasis on supply chain snags. The plan outlines a focus on recruiting new drivers and expediting the process of acquiring a CDL as a way to ease the apparent truck driver shortage; but the word “parking” does not appear in the document even once, Bloomberg reports.
“The supply chain clog will not unclog until drivers are able to utilize their whole 11-hour drive time driving, not driving around in circles, fighting for the next parking spot or stopping early so they can maybe count on a spot,” Merry Leach, a driver from Niota, Illinois, wrote in an official complaint last month.
“Adding truckers to fill the ‘driver shortage’ is only going to make the situation worse, like adding players to a game of musical chairs without adding chairs. If you don’t find a spot by 2 o’clock in the afternoon, you’re done. You’re not going to find a spot, particularly in the Northeast,” she continued.
Truckers stop driving an average of 56 minutes early just to find an appropriate parking spot, which costs drivers an average of $4,600 a year – a potential 10% of their yearly pay. These parking issues have been around for decades, but the issue really stepped into the spotlight when parts of the country began closing their rest stops in an effort to stem the transmission of COVID-19. Additionally, spending extra time searching for parking diminishes the amount of time drivers can spend making deliveries, bringing the issue back to supply chain disruption.
According to a study by the American Transportation Research Institute back in 2017, 84% of truck drivers park in an unauthorized place at least once a week, and 48% say that they aren’t willing to pay to park. An additional 10% of drivers say they are not willing to pay more than $10 for a parking spot, but overnight parking at popular truck stops along high-traffic routes can cost anywhere between $12 to $26.
“Truck drivers need safe areas to take a break from long stretches of highway miles. We have heard several personal accounts of the need for additional truck parking,” said Meera Joshi, the former acting administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
“This is the 10th year that the lack of available truck parking has made the top 10 list of industry concerns, and among commercial drivers it has consistently ranked in their top three,” stated a report by ATRI.
In late 2021, a highway bill provision introduced to the House of Representatives included nearly $1 billion in truck parking grants, but the provision was later removed and has not been replaced.