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Growing truck parking shortages emerge in latest survey

Jason’s Law update finds more respondents revealing how capacity for parking spaces is failing to keep pace with demand

Parking capacity failing to keep up with demand. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Despite a major awareness campaign following the 2009 murder of Jason Rivenburg while he slept in his cab at an abandoned gas station after being unable to find safe parking, the shortage of safe truck parking spaces in the country continues to grow.

That was the primary takeaway from the Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey and Assessment released Tuesday by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The assessment, based on a survey that concluded in 2019, was a long-awaited update to the first Jason’s Law survey in 2015.

“Truck parking shortages are still a major problem in every state and region of the country,” Jeff Purdy, a transportation planner with the FHWA’s Office of Freight Management & Operations, said during a meeting revealing the latest survey results. “Major freight corridors and large metro areas have the most acute shortages,” with shortages existing at all times of the day but mostly overnight and weekdays, he said. “There is, however, much more awareness from all stakeholders about the truck parking problem.”

2019 Jason’s Law Survey: Percent of drivers reporting problems finding safe parking

The 2019 survey was considered an improvement over the 2015 survey in that there was a significant increase in respondents — and therefore a presumed increase in data accuracy. For example, the number of drivers responding to the survey increased 43% to 11,696. Trucking manager respondents increased 205% to 760, and truck stop operator respondents were up 34% to 524.

The 2019 survey was also expanded to include the growing issue of truck drayage at ports, and included responses from 18 port authorities.

“Ports have their own challenges on congestion due to the scope and scale of vessels discharging 10,000 to 15,000 containers at a time,” said U.S. Maritime Administrator Mark Buzby during the meeting. “The last month or two with the great flood of inbound containers has exacerbated the problem” for drivers trying to schedule pickup and delivery times, he said.

While the latest survey found a 6% increase in public parking spaces and an 11% increase in private parking from 2014 to 2019, there was a 15% increase in truck vehicle miles traveled between 2012 and 2017. In addition, the latest survey found new shortages had emerged in areas that included the entire Interstate 95 corridor, Pacific-region corridors, and throughout states surrounding the Chicago region — in addition to shortages in the same locations identified in 2014.

Responses from state transportation departments revealed that few new public facilities or spaces are being developed, and that challenges continue in planning, funding and accommodating truck parking.

Responses from truck stop operators found:

  • 79% do not plan to add more truck parking.
  • 73% do not monitor parking.
  • 78% do not offer reservations.
  • 75% do not charge for parking.

Desiree Wood, president of REAL Women in Trucking, commented in an email to FHWA during the meeting that Rivenburg “would not have been able to pay $12, $15, $20 a night to park his truck safely. What are we doing to address the issue that most company truck drivers are not reimbursed for paid reservation truck parking, who is paying for it?”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which worked to get bipartisan truck parking legislation introduced in March incorporated into a major infrastructure package passed by the House of Representatives in July, saw those efforts come up short as no action on either bill will be taken by the end of the year.

However, “the parking issue is one that we’ve been fighting for years, and we’ll continue to push for that in the next highway bill or any stand-alone legislative opportunity as well,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh told FreightWaves in September.

“Billions of dollars have been added to the national freight bill due to lost productivity,” commented Darrin Roth, vice president of highway policy for the American Trucking Associations, during the meeting. “It’s hard to imagine being a driver and not being able to find a safe place to sleep. I hope the next administration can continue to treat the truck parking shortage with the seriousness it deserves.”

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  1. Stephen Webster

    A simple question is why are we not limiting the number of trucks out there until shippers and receivers do something to increase parking and allow overnight parking on their properties. All shippers and receivers who do not provide parking equal to a number of the deliveries and pickups should have to pay $40.00 US or $50.00 cd or 700 pesos per pickup or delivery or if at least 25 percent do not have 20 amp electric plugs. If we did back charge parking to companies like Amazon, Walmart and detention rates of at least $40.00 us or $50.00 cd from the appointment times and limit late fees to shippers and trucking companies by the new U S Fed gov along with minimum wage rates for O T R truck drivers of $21.00 us plus medical and local truck and bus drivers of 30 or more passengers or 60,000 lbs gross the shortage of parking and truck drivers would be gone in 3 months except for peak times of the year.

      1. Stephen Webster

        Then cut the supply of trucks by not bringing in foreign workers in the transportation industry. Many homeless people in Ontario Canada are former truck drivers.

  2. Desiree Ann Wood

    What Lewis Pugh should be saying is that despite previous knowledge that truck parking was an issue before the murder of Jason Rivenburg, his story & the Jason’s Law movement that was championed by Hope Rivenburg, not OOIDA made the issue the law of the land. The bill had  “momentum”. It was not just a tragic story that inspired the recognition that this problem needed to be addressed, but it was relatable – not just to the industry but to the public.  Truck parking just as a “shortage” issue without a “human factor” can easily be overlooked by a public that thinks that’s the same as their paying to park downtown on a periodic shopping spree. How do you preserve the urgency that Jason’s story and Jason’s Law raised and how do you build on this work with HR 6104 to avoid starting over again or repeating work done?
    Because the truth is freight planners trying to solve this problem require a historical timeline and data before they can use a dime of funding. Therefore, HR6104 aims to erase the history of how this issue got any attention whatsoever yet ride on it’s coattails of data, research and surveys , all so OOIDA can claim they did what they really did not do. Support Hope Rivenburg from day one as she mobilized a movement. And now that she is sick, OOIDA wants to make it seem like they are doing something. Truck parking is already an eligible funding activity because of the work that came from Jason’s Law. States are just learning how to use the freight formula for this. What OOIDA is proposing will make us have to start over from scratch which takes more time. What they should be doing is improving what we already have. Amend HR 6104 to The Jason’s Law Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act

  3. Stephen Webster

    We need more parking before any new truck drivers come into Canada or the U S. All receivers and shippers who do not provide overnight parking with 20 amp electric plugs for some of the trucks should have to pay $40.00 us or $50.00 cd per pickup or delivery to a local nonprofit groups to build and maintain parking in that region.

    1. Desiree Wood

      I like this! I also think truck drivers should get a stand alone tax credit for truck parking if these stakeholders keep pushing us to pay for parking. If that is the only way we are going to get parking and no one wants to talk about that we are not reimbursed for this expense by employers. It should be a tax credit for cdl holders at the very least since we are serving the nation.

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.