Bill introduced in both houses to address truck parking

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Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Representatives Mike Bost (R-Ill.) and Angie Craig (D-Minn.) on Wednesday re-introduced the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act – legislation that would authorize $755 million in competitive grant funding to expand commercial truck parking capacity across the country. 

Originally introduced to the House in 2021, the same bill was introduced during the prior legislative session and unanimously passed the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure before lawmakers adjourned in January. 

"The lack of safe and accessible truck parking places an enormous and costly burden on our nation's truck drivers as they work to deliver for the American people. Given the chronic nature of this issue and its national scope, it is imperative Congress takes action to provide dedicated funding to expand commercial truck parking capacity,” said American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear.

There exits only one parking spot for every 11 trucks on the road, and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) President Todd Spencer noted that "when truck drivers don’t have a designated place to park, they end up parking on the side of the road, near exit ramps, or elsewhere. This isn’t safe for the driver and it’s not safe for others on the road."

Nearly half (45%) of respondents to CCJ's most recent What Drivers Want survey – a poll of more than 800 leased owner-operators and company drivers – said finding parking was their biggest problem as a driver that’s not related to their current employer/leasing fleet, ranking it ahead traffic delays (32%) and detention (15%).

"There should be laws that require shippers to allow parking before and after loading and unloading," said company driver Randall Marvin, "and access to bathroom, not porta potty."

A U.S. Department of Transportation report found 98% of drivers regularly experience problems finding safe parking and roughly 70% of drivers have been forced to violate federal hours-of-service rules because of this common scenario. 

Truck drivers often park whenever they find a safe and legal space, surrendering an average of 56 minutes of drive time per day, according to the American Transportation Research Institute. The time spent looking for available truck parking costs the average driver about $5,500 in direct lost compensation — or a 12% cut in annual pay. 

"When you are tired, there’s always parking issues when you get ready to try to park at night," added company driver James Williams. 

Ellen Voie, Founder of the Women In Trucking Association, added that a lack of viable parking is especially problematic for recruiting and retaining female drivers. 

“The top reason female commercial drivers leave the industry is because they are concerned about their personal safety,” she said. “Parking areas need to be safe and available for breaks when needed."

With more than 5,000 Interstate truckstops and travel centers providing 90% of the truck parking capacity in the U.S., truckstops and travel centers play a key role in addressing any state concerns over truck parking capacity and allowing grant recipients to partner with private truck parking providers to expand truck parking capacity nationwide – and allowing grant recipients to harness the collective expertise that private travel centers can provide – affords an opportunity to maximize federal funds and increase truck parking capacity along freight corridors where it may be needed, said Lisa Mullings, NATSO President and CEO.

Jason Cannon has written about trucking and transportation for more than a decade and serves as Chief Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. A Class A CDL holder, Jason is a graduate of the Porsche Sport Driving School, an honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee, and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. Reach him at [email protected]