The Shortage of Safe Parking for Truckers is a Problem

The signs that say ‘No Parking for Trucks’ are growing.  While we’re huge fans of Buc EE’s and love to visit with our families, the fact that the large truck-stop doesn’t allow trucks on their property at all, is more than a little disappointing to us.  In fact, the only trucks allowed at a Buc EE’s are delivering supplies, merchandise and other things the business relies on; that makes it all the more ironic. 

When interviewed, the corporate statement about the ‘no heavy truck’ policy for Buc EE’s cites that large transport trucks would complicate the flow of traffic into the location, undermine the non-commercial driver experience, and potentially pose safety risks.  However, these are not common problems for other truck stops that are frequented by both civilian and CDL truck drivers.  

There have been several regulatory changes that have impacted the trucking industry, since the introduction of HOS (hours of service) and the mandatory use of ELDs (electronic logging devices).  Truckers are forced to stop at scheduled intervals for rest breaks to ensure road safety, and reduce fatigue and collision risks.  

But the problem is that the new laws, while forcing truckers to stop more often, has created a new challenge for the industry.  There are not enough safe parking areas and trucker friendly rest-stops to accommodate the legally required breaks.  And that is making things more difficult for professional truckers.  

Where Do Trucks Park When There Are No Available Designated Spots? 

Truckers face a challenge of balancing the legal compliance to HOS regulations, with other delays that they encounter on the road.  Drivers do plan and optimize their routes to ensure that they will be able to stop in a designated area that permits trucks to idle or shut down for the mandatory rest breaks.   

However, what do truckers do when they arrive at the rest area and there are no more parking spots?  Do they get back in their truck and continue on their route? No, because that would be breaking the law.  

Some states have started to draft legislation to make it illegal for truck drivers to pull over on the side of the highway or on municipal streets for rest breaks. Minneapolis is one city that has planned to ban all trucks from city streets.  

Truck stops are full.  Rest stops are full and malls and retailers don’t always allow truckers to park or overnight in their parking lots.  Pulling to the side of the road is dangerous, and illegal in most states for truckers, as it presents an increased risk for collisions and cargo theft.  

There is a real conundrum in effect for truckers, because they have few options when they cannot find safe and legal parking.  They either have the option of parking illegally (and risking a ticket and fine), or they have the option of getting back into their truck, violating the HOS regulations, and driving until they can actually find parking.  Neither one of those options is a good outcome, but it is a real problem for truckers.  

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were only 8.2 million commercial trucks on the road in America, in 2004.  Fast forward to 2013, and there were 10.6 million trucks.  And every year, with more trucks on the road and increasing restrictions for parking, the problem causes more delays and hardships for the drayage and logistics industry.  

Apps Can Help Truckers Find and Reserve Parking  

Because of the growing problem and increased demand for truck parking on or close to major interstate highways, many companies have created smartphone apps that are great tools to help solve the issue.  

One of the most commonly used apps is called Trucker Path. It is available for iOS (Apple) and Android phones, and has a lot of convenient and time saving features that help truckers locate a suitable rest stop.  It’s a new app, and currently there are 270,000 truck parking spots listed in Trucker Path’s database at over 8,000 locations nationwide.   

What is really great about Trucker Path, is that it is constantly being updated by CDL truckers every day.  More than 600,000 users are providing more information to expand the directory and provide legal and safe places for truckers to park.  

What the trucking industry really needs are some voices and representatives to local, state and Federal government bodies to help advocate for infrastructure investment in more rest stops with expanded parking spots to meet the growing demand.  In the meantime, American truck drivers will leverage apps and other resources to try to ‘plan ahead’ and secure a parking spot, in compliance with HOS regulations.  

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