Truck parking availability is a top concern of the trucking industry, according to ATRI, which, in new research, highlighted the anxiety that truckers feel in finding a place to stop and rest.
A ‘truck parking diary’ conducted by ATRI collected detailed data from commercial truck drivers who agreed to provide documentation of their challenges in looking for safe, available truck parking. Over the course of 14 days, these truckers recorded their parking experiences and issues, representing over 4,700 parking stops.
By breaking down these instances over the course of two weeks, ATRI, of which CTA is a member, found that several trends were common to many of the participants in the study.
Weekends and mid-day were often the easiest times to find available parking, according to the study. The most difficult times were during the week after 7 p.m., when most of the available parking had already been taken up. Parking stayed full and difficult to find until 5 a.m. when truckers begin their next driving period.
There were interesting exceptions to this, including a higher instance of non-commercial vehicles taking up commercial vehicle parking spaces on the weekends, adding to the difficulties even during non-peak hours. ATRI concluded that more flexible shipper/receiver appointment times would allow drivers to shift when they operate to less busy times so they could take advantage of off-peak parking times.
Drivers typically dedicated an average of 56 minutes of available drive time to parking, rather than risking not being able to find parking down the road. Since time is money for drivers, the unused drive time effectively reduced a driver’s productivity by 9,300 minutes annually, equal to a lost wage of $4,600.
For 10-hour required hours of service breaks, drivers tended to devote more time to finding parking to ensure that basic amenities were available. Factors drivers considered when searching for parking were practical with proximity to a route being the number one concern, followed by restroom and shower access, expected parking availability, and ease of access.
ATRI noted that conditions could be improved by adding to parking along major freight corridors and near urban areas, providing parking with basic facilities. These locations might lack some amenities desired for long breaks but would at the very least provide for basic needs.
Ultimately ATRI’s findings led it to make suggestions to both public and private sectors, as well as to carriers and drivers, on how these issues could be improved going forward. It recommended more investment in parking spaces and facilities across the board, while also asking for more flexibility with available parking in places like public rest areas, which can limit the amount of time a truck is allowed to park.
Truck stops were urged to better police non-commercial use of truck parking spaces to prevent vehicles from taking up more than a single lane and use public sector funding when available to expand facilities.
Carriers were encouraged to cover reservation fees for drivers to help reduce the stress of needing to find parking. Not only does this cut down on lost driving time, but it could improve retention rates at a carrier.
Lastly, drivers were asked to shift schedules when possible to avoid peak truck parking times and, while it might only add a little more capacity, ATRI reminded drivers to park in designated spaces, taking care to not take up multiple spaces if not over-size or over-weight.
“The lack of available truck parking creates a lot of stress for me and my fellow drivers,” said Stephanie Klang, a professional driver for CFI and an America’s Road Team Captain. “And, as ATRI’s diary research shows, it’s a number of things – from lack of capacity, concerns over running out of hours, time limitations on parking in public rest areas and customers not letting us park in their facilities – that all combine to make this a perennial issue for us.”
You can download a copy of this report on ATRI’s website at www.atri-online.org