Imagine driving home at the end of a long workday, ready to settle in for the evening, and being stuck driving around for an hour trying to find a place to park. That’s the reality on many a day for truckers, according to a recent study by the American Transportation Research Institute.
The lack of parking spaces suitable for trucks has reached a critical point, and the driver is not the only one affected by the shortage. That hour of searching should be an hour of productive driving — especially important when carriers are also adjusting business expectations due to the ongoing driver shortage.
The truck parking shortage came in at No. 5 in ATRI’s 2015 survey of the Top Trucking Industry Issues. The three top solutions among survey respondents were:
Support and encourage investment in new truck parking facilities.
This most common sense answer — create more parking to meet the demand — was listed by nearly two-thirds of survey respondents.
Educate the public sector on the safety consequences resulting from closing public parking facilities.
One obstacle to creating more parking comes from local resistance to the idea. Usually people are concerned that having trucks nearby will lead to crime, noise or air pollution. Allaying those fears and explaining the need for parking to ensure safer roads has been effective in many cases.
Research the role and value of real-time parking information availability and truck parking reservation systems.
Though only a small percentage of survey respondents saw this as a solution to the parking problem, it is one that can be implemented immediately and used while the bigger issue gets addressed. A number of state DOTs are trying real-time parking availability signs on their highways, and there are a number of apps available that guide drivers to available parking.
Other immediate strategies for drivers:
Reserve a spot
Truck stop chains offer reserved parking, usually for a fee. Some drivers embrace the idea, while others have a strong negative reaction to paid parking. If they do use paid parking, another ATRI survey showed that most drivers feel that the carrier should absorb the cost.
A busy truck stop will start filling up in the early evening. Planning a day that starts earlier in the morning to get to a resting place earlier in the evening increases the chances of getting a parking spot.
Today’s telematics can help keep drivers away from traffic jams that will throw off their driving schedule and leave them out of hours without a plan for parking.