Taking Another Glance At Work Truck Safety

Safety is one of the most important factors facing truck drivers and trucking companies. Not operating a commercial motor vehicle safely can cost truck drivers more than just money and business. It could cost lives. Work truck safety is one of the most critically important parts of trucking.

So, what are truck drivers seeing in their daily routines? When it comes to work truck safety, are all commercial and work vehicles treated the same? A new data study released by Verizon Connect is shedding some light on the issue. Verizon Connect is a fleet management systems provider with over 6,000 customers on its system. Their research study looked at a vast swathe of their customer base, including small and mid-size operators.

Specifically, the study was designed to examine how truck drivers operating in the mid- to light-duty range will fare. Out of everything they could have monitored, the research group covered many safety factors, including the number of fatalities per vehicle miles traveled and average speeding events per vehicle mile.

Want to know where the safest regions are for drivers of these types of vehicles? Mainly states along the East Coast. From Maryland through Virginia and on up through New England and Maine, the Northeast corridor was the safest. An outlier, Washington State, scored second place for work truck safety in the survey.

Where are the most dangerous states to work in for  truck drivers? Primarily in the South and Midwest. Another western state also stood out on the list: Montana, which came in ninth most dangerous on the list. The safest drivers could be found in North Dakota (likely due to lots of oil transports), Maine, and Nebraska. The most dangerous drivers could be found in Utah, Georgia, and California.

Heavy Trucks Not Left Out

Not to be left out, another fleet management systems operator held a contest looking for heavy truck drivers to come forward with their thoughts on what safety concerns they deal with and specific feedback on how to deal with them.

What were truck drivers saying? Interestingly, their number one concern were instances of people in passenger cars cutting them off when they are in mid-maneuver. If executed with little room for the truck to stop, those instances could be deadly. There are far too many instances where too-little space resulted in a disaster.

Another oft-cited problem was a lack of turn signal use. When a heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle is changing lanes, not properly signaling that you are moving in front of them could result in serious accident, injury, or even death. The situation is compounded if that vehicle is a tank hauler carrying hazardous material. Entire stretches of highway have been closed off for such incidents.

Finally, not to be left out was speeding, which should be of little surprise to many. Nearly a fifth of all heavy-duty truck drivers surveyed stated that far too much speeding is going on. When a vehicle is traveling to quickly, it can be difficult to see evolving road conditions.

Stay Aware and Know Your Limits

Above all, truck drivers – and this goes for those surveyed and those who know the importance of safety – say it is important to always stay aware of one’s surroundings and know one’s limits.

If fatigue is setting in, whether driving a passenger car or a commercial motor vehicle, it is critical to stop and get some rest. Lives are at stake and it simply is not worth it.

By conducting the operation of a motor vehicle, whether passenger or commercial, in a safe manner, all the time, with no exceptions, you will ensure safe passage for you and those around you on our nation’s highways.

New Research Shows Sleep Deprivation Affects People Differently

One of the largest health and safety problems within the trucking industry is sleep apnea. Truck drivers have to stay on the road for long periods of time and a lack of sleep or constant fatigue can create a very unsafe situation. With so much research going into understanding how sleep apnea affects people, there are bound to be some breakthroughs.

Many tuckers believe they can pull many hours on the road, but for some people, missing just a few hours of sleep can turn some people into walking zombies. Of course, some people are able to function well on little sleep, but truck drivers should think twice before taking unnecessary chances.

In fact, new research does show that the natural variation in individual biomarkers can identify people most at risk for sleep apnea or excessive fatigue. Researchers uncovered that people who went without sleep for at least 39 hours showed altered levels of microRNAs in their blood. They could then catalog how much sleep loss impacted individual cognitive performance.

But what are microRNAs? Otherwise referred to as MiRNAs, these are small bits of genetic material that govern and regulate genetic expression. MiRNAs work by preventing messenger RNAs from converting genetic information into proteins. By conducting studies that allow researchers to peer into how the MiRNA prevents genetic changes, they can identify who is most susceptible to apnea, drifting and fatigue.

Study Details

The groundbreaking research study tracked 32 healthy adults over a five-day period. The adults received two evenings of regular 8 hours of sleep followed by a full 39-hour period with no sleep. Not sleeping for a full 30 hours is considered total sleep deprivation.

After the full 39 hours with no sleep, participants were allowed two nights of recovery, which included another 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. During the alternating sleep periods researchers took blood samples and administered cognitive tests. By determining the levels of miRNA in the blood during specific periods of cognitive testing, researchers were able to isolate who suffered the most from the 39 hours of sleep deprivation.

If an owner-operator or a trucking company can determine ahead of time how likely a truck driver is to succumb to fatigue, they can better plan road times or setup operators running in teams. It could also mean the difference between having an extra cup of coffee or taking a nap.

Could Be Anyone

Even more, this kind of research bodes well for more than just truck drivers. Everyone from first responders to healthcare professionals and others who work overnight or long hours. It is important to remember, however, that coffee and other forms of stimulation are no substitute for quality sleep.

It should also be noted that although this study only followed people who underwent 39 hours of sleep deprivation, similar side effects would occur to people who just did not get a consistent amount of sleep per evening.

As an example, someone working through the night and then only sleeping for a few hours when they can, would experience the same type of cognitive impacts as individuals who hadn’t slept for 39 hours. This study shows that not only is getting enough sleep important, but specific genetic tests can help researchers learn who is more at risk for the negative effects of sleep deprivation. And since blood tests are relatively simple to administer, advances in screening can give new options to medical examiners who certify truck drivers.

Hopefully continued research will shed light on the issue of sleep deprivation and how it impacts performance. Everyone stands to benefit from improvements.

How Enforcement Impacts Trucking Safety

As a professional truck driver, you know, when you are operating on a crowded road or highway, someone is looking out for your safety. And while some truck drivers may inherently take a dim view of enforcement, the individuals who work as enforcements officers on our nation’s roads and highways are completing a critical job.

On average, on any given major stretch of interstate highway, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of commercial motor vehicles on the road. Enforcement officers help to keep both truck drivers and passenger car operators safe. But what are enforcement officers looking for?

Watch Those Brakes

One of the most common things that gets an enforcement officer’s attention is an unreadable front plate. Once rigs are on the side of the road for an inspection, thin brake linings are also a big violation. With big hills winding through narrow mountain passes, thin brakes can be deadly dangerous. Enforcement officers are trained to look for them and they will not hesitate to dial up a violation if serious.

In some cases, if a brake pad on the trailer is stuck to the drum, it may not release when it is supposed to, which could cause major friction problems on downhill runs. Air loss could compound the problem, causing an even greater safety concern.

Here is one thing to note, while all troopers can stop a commercial motor vehicle for inspection, only certified commercial vehicle enforcement officers can complete a full inspection. Still, certified inspections officers can also write big tickets.

Trucks Can Do Damage

With the nation’s infrastructure under increasing strain, the increase in freight traffic does no one any favors. Cities and towns that exist along trucking routes simply don’t have the capital to maintain long term bridge and road upkeep, especially in light of inaction at the Federal level.

But why are big rigs so tough on roads? It is estimated that one fully loaded tractor-trailer is equal to around 1,000 cars on the road. This is where weigh stations come in. Weigh stations are used to collect data for pavement research and inspections.

If municipalities are having problems keeping their roads and highways maintained as it is, how are they going to install new weigh stations and inspection facilities, which can run $7 to $8 million to build up and put into service?

Following the Rules

Fortunately, most truck drivers and motor carriers pay a lot of care to following the rules. Fleets should come up with innovative solutions to addressing enforcement and safety. One such example could be a monthly breakfast where the entire team gets together to discuss new safety initiatives and road conditions.

Many fleets are already turning to this method and combining it with utilizing truckers who have a long-time safety record to coach newer truck drivers on what they should expect from an inspection or enforcement action. It is important to focus more on the safety aspect than the dollars and cents.

If there is one Golden Rule of trucking, it is to never put trucks on the road that shouldn’t be on the road. Enforcement officials do a great job at spotting trucks with low-hanging wires, dirty plates, cracked windshields, or cargo that has not been properly tarped.

The last thing a motor carrier or owner-operator wants is a violation simply because they did not conduct a proper pre-trip inspection and ensure their vehicle(s) was in proper working order before it hit the road. Stay out of enforcement’s cross hairs, but at the same time appreciate the job they do. Because they do it for you.

Necessary Steps To Prevent Cargo Theft

Cargo theft is an ever-increasing problem. The age of technology has provided tools for motor carriers to safeguard their cargo, but it has also provided thieves with new toys in their endeavor to steal freight. Professional freight cargo thieves are sophisticated, whether it be through the use of jamming devices or road obstructions, they aren’t resting on their laurels.

Motor carriers looking to ensure their precious cargo does not end up in someone else’s hands need to employ comprehensive freight security programs and countermeasures. Dispatch should have real-time monitoring of cargo shipments across the fleet through tracking technologies and software programs.

Looking at Embedded Technologies

Covert cargo security measures include embedded technologies. When location, status, time and condition data can be transmitted back to headquarters the moment dispatchers need to know it, cargo theft is mitigated. Even more, partners who have been in the game for a long will offer additional services.

Does the cargo security firm you are partnering with utilize critical activity alerts, cargo monitoring, shipment tracking, and analytical reporting measures? There must be a high level of communication between the end points. Still, there are technological limitations.

Aluminum containers and cargo holds limit the effectiveness of GPS devices. That is where electronic freight security programs come into place. Just as technology has emboldened thieves, companies have stepped into the breach to keep up with them.

Dedicated EFS programs allow the tracking entity to follow the trailer, whether thieves cut a cellular or satellite link or not. Enterprising fleets are taking advantage of GPS units hidden within the cargo or built into a small box on the side of the trailer. Inconspicuous places can be used to hide the critical payload.

Be Discreet

It is important that the tracking method employed is discreet. The last thing a truck driver needs is for a bad guy to circumvent their security measures simply because they weren’t strong enough. It is true we live in a time where finding a safe place to park has become an increasing problem for truck drivers.

Since truck drivers must park where they do, the least a fleet or owner-operator can do is make it difficult for potential thieves to break in. Utilize locking and early warning mechanisms to ensure the trailer isn’t compromised without the operator even knowing about it.

Even better, OEMs on the front lines of trucking security are providing active countermeasures by utilizing systems that send out multiple signal layers, which confuse jammers. The game is afoot as thieves and corporations do each other’s best to match wits.

Team Up

One of the best ways to confound and throw off would-be attackers is to follow the age-old motto: There’s strength in numbers. When truck drivers link up with one another, it is far less likely thieves will prey upon them.

Law enforcement officials should never be considered as adversaries, but instead open lines of communication with enforcement personnel should be encouraged. Since criminals never run out of ways to defeat security systems, truck drivers and motor carriers must be on constant alert.

If a theft does occur, having a rapport already established with law enforcement allows for the investigation to begin quickly and hopefully yield quick results. Gather quick intelligence and be ready to make decisions on the fly in order to keep your cargo safe.

The brave new front will always be in cybersecurity. Trucking companies must stay at the forefront of digital security in order to keep their operations shielded from harm. Will your fleet be ready when the moment comes to protect against the bad guys?

Your Latest On Safety From Capitol Hill

ELD exemptions are once again on lawmakers’ radar as they look for ways to further streamline regulations head of the fiscal 2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill, since it was not handled within the bill itself.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations issued “report language” to go along with any legislation that is created around ELD or other trucking regulatory exemptions. But what was in this report? What language did the Committee send to the rest of Congress?

Livestock Haulers

In short, the Committee stated that the Department of Transportation needed to clarify the 150 air-mile radius exemption, specifically where agricultural commodity haulers are concerned. As such, the Committee directed the DOT to consult with the industry, as well as the Department of Agriculture, to find solutions to the exemption clarification problem.

They went on to point out that those working in the livestock or agricultural hauling sector operated within unique working conditions. As such, those unique conditions must be taken into consideration when the DOT decides to issue new regulatory guidance or frameworks.

What is more, the House version of the bill explicitly prohibits funds from being used for enforcing ELD use on livestock or insect freight haulers. As usual, the House took a firmer stance on the issue, one that the Senate did not emulate. In fact, the Senate’s version of the bill had no political riders attached to it.

It is likely the issue will be sorted out in Congress, with both sides coming to a compromise. It may even become part of a larger negotiating position. Either way, it is designed to address the larger issue at hand, which comes up on October 1. That is when any trucker hauling living things must turn on their ELD and not drive for more than 11 hours, per the ELD rule.

The Difference

Since hauling living things is very different from hauling non-living things, additional considerations must be made. Ranchers and farmers complain that they have difficulty getting livestock from a place like Montana down to places like Oklahoma.

The problem? During summer and winter months, especially during rough weather, livestock is put at risk. If a truck driver has to take a mandatory 10-hour break after 11 hours of driving, they could be putting the lives of their haul at risk. Honeybees are a prime example of this. They are extremely fragile cargo and are susceptible to heat and cold.

As a result, two Senators have introduced legislation, entitled the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act. As it has been introduced, the bill would increase air-mile-radius exemptions from 150 to 300. Livestock haulers would also be allowed to ignore hours of service rules provided they are within 150 air miles of the destination.

The Senators, John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) and Steve Daines (R-Montana) are sponsoring the bill and have openly voiced their support for extending ELD exemptions beyond the 150-mile air radius. Whether or not it actually passes, makes its way through the House, and is signed by the president is all up in the air.

Although there are many in favor of changing the rule, safety groups have come out saying that this is another attempt to gut the efficacy of the ELD mandate. They state that if more and more exemptions are given, the impact of the mandate will become diluted.

Whatever happens, this will all play out in the halls of Congress and at the White House. With trucking company and safety advocacy lobbying groups lining up, only time will tell if his actually sees the light of day.

How The ELD Mandate Is Affecting Truck Drivers

There are some grumblings among truck drivers regarding how the ELD mandate is impacting their pay and the way they operate on the job. Truck drivers from the pre-ELD era might drive for eight hours, take a four to six hour nap while the truck was unloaded, then drive for another four hours or so before stopping overnight for sleep.

In Practical Use

With the ELD mandate in place, scenarios like that are no longer possible. With the 11 hour limit, some truck drivers feel like it is cutting into their pay. Consider how truck drivers are usually paid: by the mile. When the trucker is not out on the road within the allotted time, it cuts into how many hours they can stay on the road.

Even more, the truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break every eight hours, even if they just spent half the time at an unloading site waiting for their cargo to be pulled off. When you add up all this time, you can see how much a truck driver being paid by the mile can lose.

Compounding the problem, there is a safety issue associated with these concerns. Since most truck drivers are operating on a similar schedule – since they all must comply with the same ELD regulations – they all wind up taking their 10-hour breaks at the same time, resulting in a parking nightmare.

Reports of truck drivers having difficulties finding safe places to park abound. Some openly wonder whether this is defeating the entire purpose of the mandate, which was to improve trucking safety. There has been some uptick in red zone cargo thefts since the mandate went into effect. Certainly, there is nothing to prove correlation or causation, but the trend is there.

What Are the Concerns?

Although the ELD mandate is still relatively young, there is now enough data to provide an initial assessment of how it has effected the trucking industry. According to a recent industry study, productivity is down since implementation, all while the cost of shipping has continued to rise.

While the theory underlying the ELD mandate was sound – that truck drivers were working longer hours to make more money, which could post a safety concern. No one wants truck drivers to operate while they are too fatigued.

Yet, the problem lies in the fact that the Hours of Service rules have remained largely unchanged for nearly a century.

Truck drivers are starting to openly worry whether or not the ELD device usage is creating an unsafe operating environment for them. Some refer to it as a constant race to beat the clock. Some truckers report trying to race to their destination before the mandatory breaks kick in.

Losing Experienced Truck Drivers

The simple fact is this: Money matters. Trucking as a career will become less lucrative for truck drivers who are paid by the mile. A rookie truck driver can expect to bring in around 27 cents a mile. Experienced truck drivers could expect around 44 cents per mile.

Studies done on the impact the ELD mandate has had on truck driver pay shows that there is potential for the average long haul truck driver to lose upwards of $14,000 per year as a result of the new methodology.

With the truck driver shortage already an acute problem, the trucking industry cannot afford an exodus of experienced truckers. Fleets need all the help they can get recruiting, training, and retaining truckers of the future. Will the ELD mandate wind up helping or hurting their cause? Right now, only time will tell.

Summertime Driving Tips For Truck Drivers

Summertime! It’s a time of fun in the sun, trips to the lake or beach, and laughing kids playing without a care in the world. It, quite possible, is almost everyone’s favorite season. And while the same may be true for professional truck drivers, they must take extra care during the warm summer months.

There are so many reasons why summer represents a dangerous season for truck drivers, and with the summer rapidly approaching in most of the country, now is the time for a summertime safe driving tips refresher blog. With the sun high and the heat approaching, what’s a truck driver to do?

Adequate Sun Protection

First up is protection from the sun. Truck drivers usually must get in and out of their truck on a regular basis. Even more, they sometimes have to spend large amounts of time waiting outside their tractor while a shipper or receiver loads or unloads.

This is why it is so important that truckers protect themselves from the harmful rays of the sun. It is important to remember that there are serious risks associated with overexposure to the sun. Have you ever heard of the condition, “Trucker’s Arm”? It describes the condition that occurs when the sun scorches the left arm sitting beneath the driver’s side window.

Truck drivers need to make sure they stock up on sun block to prevent overexposure to the harsh rays of the sun. But even more than the sun, truckers need to pay more attention to other drivers just as much, if not more, than they do the sun.

Crowded Roads

It is no great secret that the summertime is the perfect time of year for hitting the road on a great American road trip. For this reason alone, professional truck drivers need to make sure they are extra vigilant.

The summer months bring more travelers onto our nation’s roads, which can make conditions even more unsafe for truckers. While not every accident can be prevented, staying alert and awake can lessen the chances of a terrible summer accident from occurring.

Drink Water

A common misconception among road warriors is that because they are in the cab of their truck, they don’t need to drink water or overly worry about dehydration, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is, truck drivers can wind up dehydrated. Make sure to keep a full bottle of water in the cab because you never know when you might need it.

Do A Brake Check

If there is one mechanical component to watch out for during the summer months, it is your brakes. Intense summer heat can lead to brakes fading, loss of friction, and the inability of your brakes to absorb additional heat.

This is what makes a comprehensive pre-trip inspection so important. You need to ensure you check your brakes before and after every trip, but especially during the summer to make sure your brakes are working properly.

Check Tire Inflation

High temperatures pose a particular danger for truck drivers as the excessive heat makes blowouts common. Checking your tires should be part of any comprehensive pre-trip inspection. Before you move your vehicle, especially during the summer, make sure your tires are properly inflated to avoid a potential blowout.

Finally, always make sure to practice extra caution in work zones. Memorial Day weekend just passed, and each year over 30 million drivers hit the road for this holiday. As the summer draws on, even more people will hit the road. Always use extra caution, complete a thorough pre-trip inspection and stay safe and hydrated on the roads and you’ll be well prepared for the sweltering summer months!

Safety Should Be Built Into Recruiting Efforts

Now that the ELD mandate is in place, a greater blanket of transparency has covered the trucking industry. With greater transparency comes greater scrutiny and although we are living in an anti-regulatory environment a lot of laws and regulations are still on the books. Some within the trucking industry were hoping the ELD mandate would be one of the regulations given the boot when the new administration came in and began eliminating regulations.

Yet, many of the operators who see the ELD mandate as a great, big unnecessary expense are missing out on critical tools they can use to optimize their business, increase revenues, decrease costs, and improve fleet-wide safety measures.

Building a culture of safety around recruiting creates a sense of purpose. When you concentrate your efforts on safety, it turns into an essential core value. While speed and efficiency is important, they should never be put above safety. This should be the ethos that all truck drivers and fleet managers live by.

Starting With a Clean Record

Ensuring your recruiting efforts are built upon a foundation of safety requires you to start with a clean slate, or in this case, record. Although the trucking employment market is tight, if possible, avoid hiring new truck drivers with spotty safety records. Yet there is a flip side to that coin.

In many cases, a truck driver with a clean safety record is merely a new truck driver. Statistics show that truck drivers under the age of 25 years old get into more accidents than those in higher age brackets. Certainly, not every hire can be perfect, but if you start from a solid foundation, one built upon a culture of safety, then you will come out ahead in the talent pool game more often than not.

To ensure the people you employ are well-versed in the language of safety, you want to start training them as soon as they come aboard. The best way to keep younger, newer truck drivers engaged is to provide them with clear expectations and a comprehensive training curriculum.

Start with the basics (and the BASICs!):

  • What is truck driver detention?
    • What are the base safe operating tips and tricks?
  • What is a layover?
  • How does the ELD mandate impact my job?
  • What is an MVR?
  • What do I need to know about vehicle specs, pre- and post-trip inspections?

It is important that a motor carrier sets up base expectations for its truck drivers and commits to holding themselves accountable just as much as they expect their truck drivers to remain accountable.

The Advantage of Recruiting Technology

We mean that statement both literally and figuratively.  New software-as-a-service (SaaS) and database and cloud solutions provide motor carriers with a way to access advanced recruiting tools, video orientation and coaching systems, camera, sensor, and hardware tech, and so much more!

By putting the focus on safety training from Day One, and backing your talk up with real, actionable solutions, you will ensure a safety culture that will be the envy of the industry. Now what better way can you think of to attract, train, and retain than by offering cutting-edge training, safety workshops, mentorships, and more?

Web-based interfaces provide users with portals to check status, safety information, competition information if the fleet is running such programs, and more. A new recruit with access to such a wealth of tools is far more likely to stay on board than someone who is tossed into the cab with no care given to their training.

Keep safety a core value, an integral part of your company’s mission, all while providing a more attractive target for potential truck drivers, simply by making safety a vital part of your initial hiring process.

 

Truck Driver Hair Testing Is Once Again Up For Discussion

The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, otherwise known as the Trucking Alliance, has come out stating they plan to lobby congress to pass a new drug testing law that mandates anyone who is applying for a safety-sensitive truck driver job to take a drug test and verify they are not addicted to opiates or other illegal drug use.

The Trucking Alliance used a United Nations event to reveal this new initiative. They cited Brazil as an example of a country who was thinking forward on the issue. Brazil requires that new commercial truck drivers in Brazil pass a hair test before renewing their commercial vehicle driving license.

Since Brazil enacted this law, over 1 million truck drivers have failed their hair test or refused to renew their license to avoid getting caught in taking the test. The Alliance represents a coalition of freight and logistics companies that support safety technologies and regulations. They have been behind the push to create new speed limiter regulations, the ELD mandate, better truck driver training and advanced safety assistance technologies.

But Why Hair Tests?

The problem lies in the type of drugs that most truck drivers struggle with. Nearly half of all the truck drivers who fail drug tests do so because of opiates, no surprise considering the opiate addiction problem facing our country. Urine testing usually does not test positive for opiates because they are flushed out of the system rather quickly.

Hair testing, on the other end, usually can pinpoint opiates because the testing goes back far enough to discover the substance. The Alliance points to current drug testing methods as not enough to address the current substance abuse crisis enveloping the nation and the trucking industry. While many fleets don’t report major problems of failed drug tests, the Alliance purports the reason behind this is that fleets are not instituting hair tests for their employees.

Opioids can be undetectable in urine after a few hours, which allows opioid addicts to simply avoid drugs before submitting to a urine analysis. A hair test, however, detects opiate use up to 90 days out from use. Opiate pain killer includes everything from brands as diverse as hydromorphone to oxycodone, or trade names such as OxyContin, Percocet, and others. A urine analysis will miss these unless taken within an hour of use.

One of the proposals on the table includes Congress requiring tests for new truck drivers but requiring them for license renewals. Once a truck driver is on the road, it is critical that the motor carrier employing them is keeping track of whether they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. After all, lives are at stake.

Will It Matter In Our Current Political Environment?

Now the question is, will Congress or the Trump administration get on board with such a legislative push. We are currently in an anti-regulatory environment. Will more regulations, even if they make sense where trucking safety is concerned, make that much of a difference in the long run? While the Trucking alliance says yes, trucking industry advocates and trucking companies would like to keep those decisions in-house.

If hair testing is the right thing to do and will save lives, should motor carriers immediately jump on board? Also, is there a greater expense related to this type of extensive drug testing. Will small carriers be able to bear the cost? There are a lot of unanswered questions relating to drug testing and whether it should be mandatory, and it appears we won’t find the answers any time soon

Parking As A Trucking Safety Concern

Did you know that parking searches cost truck drivers and/or fleets up to $4,600 annually? In fact, parking availability is one of the top concerns whether you are asking motor carriers or truck drivers themselves. In fact, it has been documented that truck drivers feel a certain measure of anxiety over the parking situation they have to deal with on near-daily basis.

According to the Truck Parking Diary, detailed documentation from internal surveys shows that commercial truck drivers who agreed to participate in the surveys recorded parking experiences and issues across 4,700 truck parking stops.

As those who manage the Truck Parking Diary discovered as they broke down the data from the survey, several trends became apparent. The most readily available times to find parking were generally the weekends and mid-day hours. Conversely, the most difficult times were after 7:00pm during the week.

Available parking areas also stayed full all the way through to 5:00am the next day. Still, there were exceptions to the rule. The survey reported that there were higher instances of non-commercial vehicles – such as RVs – that often take up spaces reserved for commercial motor vehicles, which obviously adds to the problems truck drivers face trying to find parking.

The survey also found that if there were more flexible shipper/receiver times, truck drivers could shift their operating times away from the busiest parking times. Whatever can be done to help truck drivers find parking during peak and off-peak hours benefits both the trucking industry and the drivers.

How Much Do Truck Drivers Work?

Another aspect of the job the survey revealed was that truck drivers typically dedicated 56 minutes of allotted drive time to either parking or finding parking, rather than risk not being able to find a place to park further along the road.

This means that the truck driver effectively lowered the wages they were earning to the tune of $4,600, which accounts for over nine thousand lost minutes on an annual basis.  When 10-hour hours of service breaks were allowed, the survey determined that truck driver spent most of this allotted time trying to find parking than they did to addressing their basic amenities needs.

What did truck drivers look for when they were factoring whether or not they had found an appropriate parking space? Obviously, proximity to the route they are running is most important, but they also looked closely at whether the rest area offers restrooms and/or showers, or if the advertised parking spaces are available, and whether they had a reasonable ease of access and use.

There is Room for Improvement

Another important note that came from the survey was that there is certainly room for conditions to be improved, both by adding more parking along major freight lines and by increasing available facilities and providing the basic needs truck drivers look for when they are taking long breaks in a specific space.

Whether you are talking about public or private partnerships, more investment in parking spaces is needed. There also needs to be more flexibility in which rest areas are available to the public or commercial operators.

Throughout all this, motor carriers have been encouraged to pay reservation fees for truck drivers, which should help ease the stress of finding available parking. This would not only cut down on motor carrier costs or lost driving time but would go a long way to increasing truck driver retention rates.

Finally, truck drivers would not have to ask to shift their scheduled – or be asked to do so – based on peak driving times. Whether it be a lack of capacity, time limitations, or otherwise, truck drivers deserve to have facilities they can use, whether for increased comfort or safety.