Truck Parking Special Report

In April 1999 a series of public hearings were held to gather information for a Truck/Bus Safety initiative. A major issue that arose in the investigation process was that there was a lack of safe available truck parking.

The 38 page document established the difficulties drivers face when seeking safe truck parking. Of course the most obvious solution, to create more truck parking was advised. Below is a sampling of the some of the other conclusions made in the National Transportation Safety Board Highway Special Investigation Report:

• “Shippers, brokers, and consignees frequently influence truck schedules and should be an integral part of any solution to No Truckersthe truck parking area dilemma.”
• “…that not enough adequate truck parking spaces are available to accommodate traffic patterns in certain locations.”
• “The Federal and State governments have the responsibility to maintain highway safety and that the lack of available truck parking or the truck drivers not knowing where parking would be available can negatively impact safety.
• “The prohibition against private development of rest area facilities on interstates may be an impediment to the construction of adequate truck parking.
• “Parking time limits for public rest areas can result in drivers returning to the roadway without obtaining adequate rest or parking unsafely on shoulders or ramps.”

Recommendations were made on page 30 of the report to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to include the National Industrial Transportation League as a stakeholder, to eliminate “… the prohibition against private development of rest area facilities on interstates…”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Trucking Associations, Inc., (ATA) the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the National Private Truck Council (NPTC), and the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) were asked to “…create a comprehensive guide, available both on paper and in electronic format, for all truck drivers to use that will inform drivers about the locations of all parking areas and the space availability.”

The American Trucking Associations, Inc. was requested to distribute the “comprehensive guide” of truck parking mentioned above to their members (trucking fleet executives) who were then supposed to distribute it to truck drivers to help them locate safe, adequate truck parking.

It is now the end of 2013, and no collaborative comprehensive guide has been created or distributed.

In this report, Governors of problem states that were identified as: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington were advised that when their state had enough “…adequate parking…” that they should “…modify time limits at public rest areas that can prevent truck drivers from obtaining adequate rest…”

One of the highlights in the report occurs on page 4 where is says in essence that”… some motor carriers and drivers indicated to the safety board that truck parking is often available at the delivery site or nearby but drivers may choose not to use these areas because of the lack of necessary services, such as lavatories or showers, or because of concern about the prospects of criminal activity”. I would disagree that “often” is a good choice of words. Parking at a shipper and receiver may be an option occasionally, depending on the shipper/receiver internal policies followed by a determination on the need for services and criminal activity in the area.

It is reasonable that a person would like to be parked somewhere to rest where they can use a bathroom, have a shower and not have a crime committed against them. Truck drivers are human beings and they have the same bodily needs as everyone else. They are often not making truck parking decisions based on a vast array of leisurely choices.

On page 7, the National Association of Truck Stop Owners (NATSO), a $35 Billion dollar lobby organization according to the 2000 report that represents the travel plaza industry disagreed with the 1999 FHWA truck parking study findings. In a NATSO party submission a remark was made that “…private truck stops could meet parking demands, if truck drivers planned their trips better…”. (National Transportation Safety Board, 2000)

This statement is really the nutshell of the truck parking problem. The truck stop industry lobby group seems uninterested in the end users they are to serve. Truck drivers are not on a family road trip. They are not in charge of the scheduling of when their trailer will load or unload. This has been clearly established time and again in truck parking shortage reports, yet the very organization that represents the place where trucks “often” go to park does not seem to know the nature of the trucking business.

It is noteworthy to understand that NATSO is against privatization of rest areas. They continue to fight progress by lobbying to prevent competition with a 50 year old argument that rest area privatization will harm small businesses. I understand that NATSO is fighting for corporate truck stop giants to prevent competition but let’s look at the facts. It takes a great deal of wasted time for a truck driver to exit an interstate, wrangle local traffic and struggle to get into the parking lot, find a place to park the truck, only to go to the bathroom and grab a bite to eat.This could be more efficiently handled in a privatized rest area and there is no reason that a small business or small satellite franchise business could not bid for a rest area location, including those who are represented by NATSO.

To exit the interstate to go to a travel plaza simply for a food stop and bathroom break can waste as much as 30 minutes just due to traffic and poorly staffed food outlets in many of these locations.

What about fuel? This is really what we are talking about. A big rig may stop for fuel once a day and spend between $300 and perhaps up to $700 for diesel. Isn’t that what NATSO is really afraid of, competition for fuel sales on the interstate? The next time you pass a truck stop, look at all the trucks lined up waiting to fuel. Make a quick calculation on how much fuel sales they average per hour and you can see why they keep dragging this 50 year old skeleton out of the closet to prevent commercialization. The major travel plazas that support NATSO are not a small businesses, In fact, truck drivers have little access to small business off the interstate because they can rarely park on the property or anywhere near a small business. Truck drivers primarily have access only to the travel plazas/truck stops and regardless of whether rest area privatization occurs, big truck stop chains negotiate fuel prices with trucking companies. That means the truck will still exit the interstate to buy fuel at the truck stop chain they have negotiated an agreement at least once a day.

Rest area commercialization makes sense because truck drivers can waste 15 minutes of time in one direction trying to get from the interstate exit to the toilet, cash register if they are buying food and still not even get the break they were seeking in the first place. A 15 minute fuel stop on paper can turn into 45 minute ordeal at some locations and 30 minutes when no fuel is purchased.

The current law which prohibits rest area commercialization is an outdated joke but unfortunately not enough people call their elected servants to educate them and NATSO has done a great job of lobbying to prevent competition to their members.

The entire 38 page May 17, 2000 Highway Special Investigation Report on Truck Parking Areas can be read with this link: NTSB May 2000 Report on Truck Parking

This was not the only report that was completed on the topic. There have been many over the years that cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce and STILL, in May of 2012 a report on the commercial truck parking shortage concluded that the “…evidence indicates that truck parking shortages remain widespread and in some areas acute…” (Federal Highway Administration, 2012)

Jasons Law2Last week we finished the 2013 Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey and Focus Group Presentation; it did not cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce. The findings have not changed much except that some of the states identified in previous reports were less of a problem now because they have taken steps to improve and previously defined problem areas have become worse.

Jason’s Law is not simply about getting money from the government to build more truck parking. It is about looking at our own communities and thinking about how we can improve. Moving freight to accommodate consumers should not be a one sided convenience equation.

Our hope is that people start thinking outside the box about truck parking rather than coming out to protest it when a truck stop development attempts to break ground near their community. I hope more people will educate their elected officials about rest area commercialization and why this antiquated law should be overturned. I hope cities that have an abundance of area distribution centers that create local jobs will examine whether they are contributing to the truck parking problem because these centers detain drivers and do not let them park on their properties.

Perhaps clusters of distribution centers should consider collaborating on bull pen staging areas or new innovative private enterprise should step in. Shouldn’t shipping costs include overnight parking fees in known troublesome areas where drivers may need to pay for safe parking or truck stop electrification services if they are the only thing available? If tolls fees are added into shipping costs perhaps parking fees should be as well. The respondents to the 2013 truck parking survey were overwhelmingly company drivers, employees. Truck parking expenses in troublesome areas should not have to be paid by employees. These drivers are unable to plan their trip for a safe parking solution because poor load planning at another level of the supply chain and NATSO should know this about the industry they serve.

Jason’s Law hopefully will be more than just a section in the MAP-21 Transportation Bill that allows funding sources for truck parking which has been in crisis before way before Jason Rivenburg was murdered.

The following Slideshare presentation on the current state of truck parking is a snapshot of the results from the 2013 National Truck Parking Survey and Focus Group. Open comment sections from the survey are still being compiled for publication to the internet.

Federal Highway Administration. (2012). Commercial Vehicle Parking Shortage. The Conference Report accompanying the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-55, 125 Stat. 552, Washington D.C.
National Transportation Safety Board. (2000). Highway Special Investigation Report – Truck Parking Areas. Washington D.C.: NTSB.

Open Comments Downloadable Comments Links:

What are the circumstances and how often does it take 60 minutes or more to locate truck parking to comply with your federally mandated hours of service (HOS) rest break?
Click Here for PDF

States that need most improvement: Click Here for PDF

Please identify which Ports and/or surrounding facilities have an inadequate amount of safe parking. Click Here for PDF

Cities most mentioned that need more truck parking Click Here for PDF

This article was written by: RealWomenTruckers

Our mission is to empower the women of trucking and those entering the industry through outreach programs, continuing education, advocacy, mentoring, networking, and ongoing support to promote retention, encouragement, and unity between both new and seasoned female drivers.

  1. 19 Comments

    • Rocket Girl says:

      Why do we want to drive them dam trucks anymore? ???
      Because the world needs FOOD ? ? And GAS ? ? AND AND AND AND.
      Nothing you have did not get there by a TRUCK.
      After 33 years on the road, I am so DAM Discusted with the way This world of TRUCKING is turning out .
      Maybe tomorrow ! ! !
      I just wont turn on the KEY.
      No Parking. Freeze your ass to death. Just because of a bunch of BS Laws. Over regulated the trucking industry to the point of a HUGE CRASH. THEN W H A T ?????????
      No wonder there is a TRUCKER SHORTAGE.
      B A C K O F F OR GO HUNGRY.
      God Bless Jason just another real Truck Driver. Feeding his family.
      FOR WHAT ??????????????????/ a few Dollars.
      May GOD BLESS ALL OF THE REAL TRUCK DRIVERS

      AMEN

      • We feel your frustration. So much money has been spent to study this problem and nothing has been done.

      • AMEN a million times, I have been truckin for over 45 years in the uk and Ireland. I could rant on till next christmas about the state of the truck drivers world. We all know the crap we suffer, the movie CONVOY did spell it well out, but as usual nobody give a shit and it is still getting worse. Over here we have very little in the line of decent service for drivers, we are treated like shit, everyone hates us Police Parking wardens, Dep of transport, VOSA (another lot set up by government to make our life hell) No Parking here and everywhere. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH… It is good thing that we men and the women who have the guts to keep the world alive can do it with all this shit to cope with. Jim Kinghan. County Down. Northern Ireland… OUR MOTTO KEEP on TRUKING.

    • Rocket Girl says:

      Do we really need to do a survey to know that there is a PROBLEM?
      Stop wasting TAX $ $ $, And Fix the problem.

      Rocket Girl

    • Brenda says:

      Hello,

      My name is Brenda and I’m a truck driver. I never thought truck driving was going to be
      this hard. I was at the Ta in Bloomsbury Nj getting fuel the other night and
      looking for somewhere to park. The Pilot was right next to Ta and neither one of the
      truckstops had any parking available. So i had to park across the street and sleep.
      When i got up i went across the street to Pilot and got me a coffee. When i came out
      i saw this paper in the handle of my door. It was a ticket for parking in a no parking zone. I hit
      the roof i was PISSED!!!!!!! Federal guidelines tell me if im tired pull over. So i had to pull over as i was
      too tired to drive. This all happened after midnight. I’m still PISSED!!!!!!

      • Hi Brenda,

        Thanks for your comment. This is frustrating because our own industry should be doing much more and they are not. They put all these demands on the drivers to comply with and then just leave out like a sitting duck. You really have to love driving to stick with t because the conditions the drivers are expected to exist in would not be acceptable in any other industry.. Take Care, Desiree

    • Monica says:

      One of the biggest issues I’ve encountered, in addition to parking, is lack of adequate facilities. Nobody likes the smell of an unwashed trucker. The health consequences of not maintaining adequate hygiene are also very unpleasant. Even in the states that have extra truck parking area, very few of them even have toilets. The only rest areas I’ve seen that provide showers are one or two on the OH turnpike. In the very large tickets, you have to walk a quarter to a half mile to get to the toilet. No wonder we hear so many stories about truckers being in bottles and pooping in plastic bags. This issue needs to be addressed. In addition to safe parking areas, adequate facilities need to be provided as well.

      • I agree with you, one thing I do like at Ohio Turnpike though is that it’s one of the few times I can eat at a Panera Bread location because it’s part of their food court. That’s the only way I could go to a place like that when I am on the road and get a bit of variety in my diet. They have good soup so I always stop there in Winter to treat myself. The showers are free but they are so-so. Still nice they have them. Thanks for the comment!

    • Just a pissed of driver says:

      One reason we are not allowed to park in certain places is because of us you throw your trash all over piss bottles junk tires pallets you name it I’ve seen so first we need to start taking care of that problemand us dr iver’s are the only ones that can make that change also let’s face it the big trucks stops don’twa nt us staying there all night they want us in spend are money and get out just look at the way they take care of us your lucky to have clean showers restaurant service sucks the foods not much better your lucky if it’s not fast food anymore but as far as all the rules and regulations stop bitching about them unless you are ready to do something about it shut them is the only way we can get it changed

      • Thank you for the comment driver,

        I agree! The driver’s ARE the only ones who can change things. If as many drivers who complain about conditions in Facebook groups to one another took action in a way that could effect change we could really make progress but too many want to sit back and wait for someone else to fix it for them while they complain about it day in and day out. It is an exercise of futility that wastes energy. I’d rather not hear complaints from people who refuse to take any action to improve the conditions. They are in my opinion part of the problem, people who know there is an issue but won’t do the hard work to clean up the town. There must be a shift of what is acceptable. Throwing garbage out the door is an offense that can get you a hefty fine, drivers who are doing this on private property should be held accountable and if they are company drivers, the carrier should be held accountable. If I saw a driver dump their piss bottles on my property I would simply let them know their services are no longer needed to pull my freight and I think carriers who employ these types of drivers might start thinking about the quality of drivers they are running and hopefully, if they are responsible for running them into the ground that they are acting like un potty trained animals. Even if you have a bodily emergency, there is no reason you cannot walk your garbage to a suitable trash receptacle. Thanks again for the comment. Be Safe!

    • James says:

      Try getting “a bit to eat” at the Chicago area freeway Oases at, say 0230. Or a place to park to get that bite. Not going to happen. They are small, designed for cars, and not staffed for a 24-hour professional driver clientele. Every state should do what Indiana has done; expand state-owned land and build huge truck-only parking areas or vastly expand the truck parking areas in car and truck rest areas.

      With the new, challenging HOS, stopping where I want to stop can come in second to stopping where I have to stop to stay out of HOS trouble.

    • David Richards. says:

      I hate that E-Logs does not allow me to schedule my showers and break when it is safest for me and all of our family’s. got me a shower last night. 1st one in 48 hours. And came out 22 minutes later with tow truck hooked to my Trk. Cost me $300 for a drop fee. Just got $845 worth of fuel but no parking at either Trk stops.

    • Ryan B says:

      I don’t know how many times I cut my day short by 4 or 5 hrs, just to get a spot.

    • sarah says:

      There is a huge issue if you are a night driver like me. I never ever can find a place to park between 2-5 am to do my 30 minute break. So I either pull thru a fuel island and pray Noone pulls in behind me or I find an off ramp with room for me to sit there.
      I primarily run i35 i80 and i15. In recent 2 months traffic has majorly increased along my routes making parking even more troublesome. Especially in wyoming where there are tons of parking places. My last 2 trips across you couldn’t find a place let alone make a place.
      Everything is full and overflowing.

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