DOT to Address Lack of Safe Parking for Truck Drivers
Safe truck parking can be hard to find, as a recently released U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) survey confirmed. Based on the study’s results, the DOT has vowed to address the need for more safe parking for truckers.
The DOT survey was conducted as a part of Jason’s Law, which is named for Jason Rivenburg, a truck driver who was killed at an abandoned South Carolina gas station in March of 2009. Unfortunately, Rivenburg is only one of many drivers who have been killed while parked for the night.
Some drivers decide to ignore important Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association sleep safety rules and keep driving until a legal and safe parking spot is available. The shortage of truck parking across the country puts tired drivers between a rock and a hard place.
“Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey Results and Comparative Analysis” found that almost every state in the U.S. has a shortage of trucker parking, with a particular drought in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Even busy freight routes lack sufficient truck parking. DOT’s survey revealed parking shortages on I-95, I-40, I-80, I-10 and I-81.
In a prepared statement, the American Trucking Association highlighted the importance of the survey: “We greatly appreciate the light DOT is shining on this important safety issue.The survey results confirm what ATA has believed for some time — collectively, we need to take real action to insure that every commercial driver has access to a safe place to park in order to obtain rest.”
As most drivers know, the parking shortage isn’t a new problem. In 2012 70% of drivers using I-5 in California reported at least one instance of not being able to park at a truck stop because it was full. Meanwhile researchers found there were only 300 truck parking spots on a stretch of I-40 that sees over 10,000 trucks each day.
Among drivers, those few spots are highly coveted. Truck driver Dave Della Maggiore told the Wall Street Journal about waking up to $8,000 worth of damage to his truck when another driver rammed him to squeeze in at a stop.
Addressing the Shortage
The DOT has started taking action on the truck parking survey with The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) law, which provides $25 million in funding to incentivize the creation of secure, long-term truck parking and other safety measures.
SAFETEA-LU funding can be used for a variety of projects that address both space and access needs, including:
- Building new safety rest stops that have commercial vehicle parking.
- Building truck parking facilities near truck stops and travel plazas.
- Making changes to open existing parking to truck drivers.
- Improving public commercial truck parking areas so they can be used year round.
- Redesigning highway interchanges to make it easier for drivers to get to safe parking places.
Information about the importance of following the law on sleeping breaks and the locations of safe parking spots are essential parts of tackling the truck parking shortage. Apps like Trucker Path and MyDAT Trucker keep updated information on rest stops, parking lots, and hotels with truck parking. SAFETEA-LU also provides funding for technology tools that address the parking shortage and the DOT will also provide updated information online about safe places to park.