There’s a shortage of safe and legal parking spaces for truckers in America. Although the newest HOS (Hours of Service) regulations may have added to the problem—it’s not new. According to a 2008 Minnesota Truck Parking Study, “Beginning in the mid-1990’s, truck parking was identified as a potential nationwide problem in the United States after Congress requested the issue be examined by the USDOT.”
Carriers must walk a fine line between balancing on-time deliveries, following HOS regulations, and parking legally. In a 2012 study completed by the Federal Highway Administration, Commercial Motor Vehicle Parking Shortage they stated, “The study found that existing demand for truck parking spaces outstripped the available supply, projected increases in vehicle miles of travel by truck would worsen the problem, and truck parking shortages have safety implications.”
What Can a Driver or Carrier do?
- Plan ahead. Schedule stops a week or more in advance. Don’t wait until you’re required to stop. Pre-plan your itinerary with stops included.
- Cut regulated drive hours as needed. Take advantage of safe and legal parking spaces as they are available even if it means reducing allowable driving time.
- Find trucker friendly nontraditional spots. Ask shippers if it’s OK to park on their property. For example, large retailers may have ample, well lit, and safe parking spaces available. Although not every truck stop provides safe parking—many do, ask around and locate the safe stops.
It’s neither safe nor legal to park, in nonemergency situations, on ramps or highways and many other empty spaces put drivers and loads in jeopardy. At the same time, it’s not safe or legal to drive out of regulation; risking driver fatigue and carrier fines. So what’s the answer? As a driver—plan ahead, as a carrier—educate your drivers and help them locate safe parking spaces. And both drivers and carriers should support industry and government efforts to improve commercial parking.