Have you heard? The American Transportation Institute (ATRI) released a new bit of research examining the vexing issue of truck parking. ATRI found that 63% of all truck drivers look for parking for more than 15 minutes between 4pm and midnight. The amount of potential driving time and pay that is sacrificed as a result amounts to an average of nearly an hour – no small amount.
This presents a critical safety issue, for many reasons, but it also represents a major productivity problem. The parking shortage would then represent a shortage that would reduce an individual truck driver’s productivity by over 9,000 revenue-earning miles per year. This could equate in lost wages nearing $5,000.
What happens, as a result? Truck drivers are forced to take greater risks in order to find a decent place to park their vehicle. Now, the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) is weighing in on the issue by tapping into raw GPS data to determine where parking facilities are most needed across the state. Will other states follow suit?
More on the Data
ARDOT is using ATRI’s research data to try and figure out whether a vehicle was at rest or on the move, based on the GPS pings sent to and received from said vehicles. Once the information is received, the agency can then overlay a comprehensive map of truck parking facilities across the state. The map includes private truck stops, public truck stops, and large parking lots near interstate highways, such as those belonging to Walmart, Target, or Lowe’s.
By laying the data over each other, researchers and ARDOT can determine how many trucks were parked at what area and for how long. It is then easy to determine if any were overcrowded. The best use of this data is both to determine where overcrowding is occurring, but also where it is going to occur. By being able to predict it, the state can better allocate resources to its prevention.
ARDOT has been conducting a multi-year study going to private and public rest stops along the four major interstates within the state. The study includes state employees manually counting trucks parked there, which they had been doing to track issues. The new research method allows the state to become far more pinpointed and precise, without having to rely on labor-intensive processes.
Arkansas is now the only place where parking has turned into a major issue. The Federal Highway Administration is releasing a commercial parking survey any day now. The federal study will look at parking needs related to port shipping.
A Federal Study
According to the agency, in a statement they said they would assess the needs of drayage, short-haul and some long-haul operations. The federal study will primarily rely on information provided by both the Department of Transportation and state agencies.
With so many truck drivers reporting problems finding decent places to park, the spotlight on safety becomes ever-brighter. Whether motor carriers are worried about the safety of their truck drivers, safety of their cargo, or safety of others on the road, it is vital that either the federal government or state agencies finally do something about parking for truck drivers.
Will we see actions come before words? At this time, it is to early to tell. With Congress and the White House focused on other priorities, many within the industry openly wonder whether parking will make it back to the front-burner, especially with the midterm elections coming up. With bold action, from either the Trump administration, Congress, or other industry advocates, the trucking industry can see real change for truck drivers looking for somewhere safe to park.