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Focus: Transportation Management

Feature Article from Our Transportation Management Subject Area - See All

From SCDigest's On-Target E-Magazine

- Jan. 26, 2015 -


Supply Chain News: Forget the Driver Shortage - Parking Spots for Truckers Increasingly Hard to Find


Nightly Trouble Finding Spots is an Issue in Drivers Leaving Industry; Safety Concerns for the Public - and Drivers


SCDigest Editorial Staff


The industry has been hearing about the US truck driver shortage for years, and in 2015 the problem did seem to become acute, with major carriers discussing the issue with an even greater sense of urgency for most of last year, and many citing a lack of drivers as not only the most important operational issue they face but also the key constraint on expanding their fleets at a time of generally rising freight volumes.

But it turns out that if the industry was able to attract and retain more drivers, it might run into a different problem - trying to find somewhere for truckers to park when they stop on the road.

SCDigest Says:

The lack of parking spaces is "a huge added stress to a driver who is trying to focus on operating safely," says OOIDA's Ryan Bowley - and likely plays some role in drivers leaving the profession.
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In a 2012 survey of trucking operating along Interstate 5 in California, 70% of truckers said they had tried to stop at a truck stop on the route but found it full. More than half said that they found no room at a truck stop every other day, according to the study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. Another study by Federal Highway Association found that there were only about 300 parking spots for trucks on part of I-40 through Arizona and New Mexico for the more than 10,000 trucks that passed through daily.

In the Northeast, "All the truck stops fill up early," says truck driver Debora da Rocha. "If you don't find a place by 4 p.m., you're in bad shape," she said.

Added truck driver Juan Hawkins last Augusr: "There just isn't anywhere to park. The rest areas or the truck stops, by about 6 o'clock in the evening, they're full."

All the studies seem to indicate what a real problem the lack of parking spaces is. A 2013 survey of some 4000 truckers organized by a woman named Hope Rivenburg of Fultonham, NY found that 40% said it takes them, on average, an hour or more to find parking for the night. Another 28% said they regularly or occasionally stay on freeway ramps, 52% said they pull up behind shopping centers, and 45% hunt for places like abandoned gas stations or vacant strip malls.

Rivensburg conducted the study as part of an effort to address the parking issue after her husband Jason was murdered in 2009 after he parked at a deserted gas station while taking a break in the course of delivering a load of milk.

Her efforts were key to the inclusion of a provision known now as Jason's Law in the federal highway bill of 2012, which made truck parking eligible for federal funding. But truck parking has had to compete for that investment with a myriad of other highway and infrastructure projects, and is generally not high on anyone in government's priority list.

"Nobody is focused on truck parking," Rivenburg told the Wall Street Journal.

The matter isn't only a matter of convenience for the driver. If there are no spaces in traditional truck stops, drivers will find a spot anywhere they can - and that can lead to safety and other issues, as the Jason Rivenburg murder shows.

Last June, trucker Mike Boeglin decided to park his truck for the night in the parking lot - outside the gates - of his consignee, ThyssenKrupp steel. The next morning, Boeglin's body was found in his silver Freightliner, burned to death. The truck had been set afire and left less than 150 yards from the factory gate. The police believe robbery was the motive.

Boeglin's widow wishes ThyssenKrupp would have let her husband's spend the night in his truck inside the facility's gates. But of course, most shippers don't allow truck parking, including the ThyssenKrupp plant. "We were deeply saddened by these events," a spokeswoman said in an email, but the plant "clearly defines" the hours it's staffed to receive deliveries to ensure safety, and it discourages parking in vacant lots nearby.

(Transportation Management Article Continued Below)



When sleepy truckers can't find a legal place to stop, many of them either push on or park illegally in secluded areas behind grocery stores, the corners of shopping malls or freeway ramps and shoulders. That's a common sight if you look for it, says Andrew Warcaba, a management consultant who redevelops commercial rest areas on toll roads, told the Wall Street Journal.

The lack of parking spaces is "a huge added stress to a driver who is trying to focus on operating safely," says OOIDA's Ryan Bowley - and likely plays some role in drivers leaving the profession.

The truck-parking shortage ranked sixth in American Transportation Research Institute's list of top 10 issues critical to the industry last October.

Lisa Mullings, chief executive of the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, tells the Wall Street Journal that she believes "the fastest, most effective way to increase truck parking is for the trucking industry to demand it from the truck stops" with whom they negotiate fuel contracts. Parking could be part of the deal, she says. "The private sector is more often than not able to do things more cheaply than the public," she added, citing one Iowa truck stop recently increased its truck parking to 900 spaces from 800.

Parking challenges are a sort of largely hidden problem that is really not the responsibility of any entity inside or outside of government to address. But it seems relatively few new spaces are being created, while increasing driver pay and more freight movement could continue to add to the number of drivers needing a spot each night.

Were you even aware of this issue relative to parking spaces for trucker? Anyone have a solution? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button (for email) or section (for web form) below.



Recent Feedback

Supply Chain professionals can help solve this problem by understanding that distribution center clusters bring heavy truck traffic to areas that may not have truck parking facilities. A community approach could be an adjacent property drop yard with toilet facilities and lighting. To review the results of the national truck parking survey that was completed in 2013 use this link to view the slidesshare presentation Truck drivers deserve a safe place to park. Thank You.


Desiree Wood
REAL Women in Trucking
Jan, 26 2015

I agree, this is a major problem and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for any changes.  I understand it is a big expense for parking, but the question I have is why do they spend so much money on a big fancy building and wasted expenses on landscape just for looks that could be turned into more parking spaces.  One example is on I69 north of Ft.Wayne, IN they just put in a new rest area.  Very nice building, but I for one could care less how fancy it is or what it looks like as long as it is clean. I am there for a clean restroom not a fancy room.  Another is it seems the there has to be lots of landscape and to me lots of up keep expenses that could be spent into making more parking spaces.  And Last but not least, twice the number of spaces than necessary for cars to stop in and park to use the restrooms or stretch their legs.  I am not saying they don't have just as much right to use a rest area, but they can stop anywhere and do that.  Most of the time 90% of the car spaces are always open and never being used.  I think it is funny they want to make new laws and regulations for "safety" but if you want truckers to pull over and take these breaks, you have to have plenty of places to park.  

Lightning Transport Inc.
Jan, 27 2015

I do believe that the truck parking is a very big issue that needs to be addressed if not by FMCSA to make sure this issue is taken seriously. It is not the truck drivers fault they can't get the rest they need. If the truck shuts them down at a place that is not safe, that is not the drivers fault. They could not find a safe place to stop. If the government would give tax breaks for these truck stops to add additional parking spots then that is what should happen. Or through fuel taxes or other means. I do know it is dangerous for drivers to stop in places that are unsafe. But they do not have a choice. The electronics in the truck lets them know they have 20 min. to find a place to park. That is stressful on its own. Especially if you are not aware of what is ahead. So you might find an off ramp which might be already full. Then you hope there is another one soon. It might be a place that is unsafe but you know the truck is going to shut down. Now that is stressful and not helpful in the long haul. Please get us some parking spaces without the worry. In the old days, we did not have to worry about the parking spaces. Only in the inner city where the gangs would rob you. The government needs to give the long haul truck driver some protection. Thank you.

Dan Steiner
Steiner Trucking LLC
Jan, 27 2015

Slow down the pace for more trucks, allowing time to build large areas for truck-only parking. When I park for the night in a rest stop area or a Pilot, a camper trailer is parked there and in rest area, a pickup is parked overnight. At Pilot or any of the big truck stops there might be two dozen or more of just trackers not hooked to a trailer, just taking up space.

Robert Donabedian
Robert Donabedian Trucking
Jan, 28 2015

Some states do not allow truck drivers to sleep at rest areas. I remember one police vehicle that used a truck horn to roust drivers from their sleep and force them to continue down the Interstate. This runs counter to the professed concern about "safeguarding the public against tired drivers."

Steve V.
Former Tired Driver
Semper Paratus
Aug, 22 2015