Trucking groups urge Secretary Buttigieg to address safe parking shortage
Washington — Contending that “safety is compromised when truck parking is not readily available,” the leaders of the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association are calling on the Department of Transportation to prioritize funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to address the issue.
In a letter sent to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Feb. 18, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear and OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer request that the department work with the White House, state DOTs, Congress and industry stakeholders “to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to mitigate the growing truck parking shortage.”
Federal hours-of-service regulations require truck drivers to park and rest after being on duty for long periods. An annual survey of commercial drivers and motor carriers conducted by ATA’s American Transportation Research Institute shows truck parking is among the leading issues affecting the trucking industry. A lack of available truck parking in safe locations ranks as the fifth most identified issue in ATRI’s most recent survey, released Oct. 24.
Spear and Spencer cite findings from a 2019 DOT report on Jason’s Law showing that 98% of drivers “regularly experience problems finding safe parking” – up from 75% in 2015. Signed in July 2012, Jason’s Law is aimed at increasing the amount of safe parking available for truckers. It’s named for New York-based truck driver Jason Rivenburg, who was murdered in 2009 during a robbery after parking his truck at an abandoned South Carolina gas station.
Additionally, the letter quotes data from a 2018 report from the trucker app Trucker Path showing that 70% of commercial motor vehicle drivers were forced to violate hours-of-service regulations to search for safe, legal parking. Previous ATRI research shows drivers spend an average of 56 minutes of daily drive time searching for parking.
“Ultimately,” the letter states, “the pervasive truck parking shortage can be explained with simple math – there are about 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States and approximately 313,000 truck parking spaces nationally; for every 11 drivers, there is one truck parking space.” This reality, the letter continues, creates “dire safety implications for truck drivers as well as the motoring public.”
Spear and Spencer write that although the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – signed into law Nov. 15 by President Joe Biden – “provided significant increases in accounts where truck parking is an eligible expenditure,” it omitted dedicated funding for truck parking.
The letter asks Buttigieg to prioritize funding for grant programs that would increase truck parking capacity. Additionally, the letter calls for the support of proposed legislation that would “establish a competitive discretionary grant program” while providing $755 million of federal funding for truck parking projects nationwide through fiscal year 2026.
Reintroduced on March 26 by Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL), the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 2187) hasn’t advanced past the House.
“Washington needs to listen to our nation’s truck drivers and respect their most serious needs,” Spear said in a press release. “They are the heartbeat of our economy and directly support the front lines in the fight against COVID-19 – a battle that will only be won with the help of the trucking industry.”