In 2015, the United States Department of Transportation announced it was creating a coalition focused on the national truck parking problem. Since then, the National Coalition on Truck Parking has sought to focus on underlying issues and local problems across the country to see how to best address them. The coalition is focused on a wide array of topics, including parking capacity, innovations in technology, regulations, and government funding.
Lack of access to safe truck parking is not just an issue for drivers. In 2018, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) found that drivers spend an average of one hour per day searching for a safe place to park, resulting in lost wages for drivers and lost time, resources, and schedule structure for businesses. With seasonal spikes in freight needs, more zoning areas restricting truck parking, erratic weather patterns, and higher online consumer demand resulting in more trucks on the road, limited access to truck parking is a serious present and future issue.
We want to make sure truck drivers are best taken care of in any parking space, so we’ve put together 5 key tips:
Tip #1: If you’re in fleet operations, put yourself in the driver’s seat
With the rapid development of routing solutions in recent years, back-office teams can often utilize these solutions to thoroughly review solid vehicle route paths with an emphasis on parking. In other words, thinking about the most convenient routes for drivers by keeping parking spots — and the times that drivers arrive at these spots — top of mind can make these routes all the more convenient for drivers in the long run. With driver turnover so rampant, showing drivers you place high emphasis on their comfort and convenience can increase driver satisfaction.
Tip #2: If you’re in fleet management, consider incorporating parking stipends for drivers
Reserved and preferred parking stops are becoming more commonplace, and they are generally more reasonably priced than one would think. Truck drivers like this concept, which allows them to save parking spots early on in the day in order to comfortably know they have a safe place to park their vehicle at night, but they’re often unwilling to pay for them. In fact, recent ATRI survey research found that nearly half of truck drivers are unwilling to pay any amount to reserve a parking space.
Just as fleet operators can show appreciation to drivers by incorporating good parking stops in routes, fleet managers can show drivers that regard for driver comfort and safety with a stipend that flows with budgetary costs.
Tip #3: If you’re a driver, think parking strategy
We know it’s far easier said than done, but taking initiative with your schedule to always be prepared for parking can ease a lot of your parking worries.
- Park toward the back of a parking lot, as most parking traffic occurs toward the entrance where the majority of trucks are
- Park in a well-lit space — this is not only a good safety measure, but it also can reduce the risk of another truck hitting you at night
- Plan ahead so that you always know when and where you’ll stop and park. We recommended that fleet operators take initiative here as well, but also do your research ahead of time if you’re in the driver’s seat
Tip #4: If you’re an industry professional, stay in the know with regulatory conversations
Whether you’re a contracted driver, a fleet manager, or an owner-operator, your voice matters. With representatives from ATRI and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration advocating for industry voices, be sure to keep an eye on any emerging buzz topics so you can lend your voice as well. A great way to do this is to participate in industry surveys, research what government representatives and politicians are saying, and responsibly use your voice on social media whenever possible.
Tip #5: If you’re not in the industry, be a parking lot pal
A little patience can go a long way, and that sentiment is especially true with the trucker and average driver relationship. If you happen to be in a parking space with a truck backing up, give the driver a little time and patience so they can do this safely and comfortably. Regardless of how many encounters they may face, most truckers aren’t immune to impatient drivers, nasty stares, or blaring horns. A small amount of empathy can go a long way.
Want to keep those reading glasses on? Check out one of our throwback blog posts for more on the truck parking shortage!