The Nationwide Shortage of Safe Truck Parking

For well over a decade, finding a safe place to park has been an ongoing problem for many of the country’s truck drivers. Adopted in 2012, Jason’s Law is the last major piece of federal legislation to address the shortage of safe truck parking spots. Jason’s Law was named after Jason Rivenburg who was forced to park at an abandoned gas station after not being able to find a safe place to park overnight and was subsequently murdered during a robbery in 2009. Since the law’s installation, the shortage has been addressed by a number of different national organizations but has unfortunately only gotten worse.

The Current State of Truck Parking

Jason’s Law, with help from the Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, performed a national truck parking survey concluding in 2020 that led to the following findings:

  • Over 75% of drivers reported problems finding a safe location to park when sleep is required, at least one or more times per week (any hour of the day)
  • Over 90% of drivers reported difficulties finding a safe place to park from 7 pm to midnight
  • Of truck stops surveyed, 58% of respondents claimed a need for an additional 1-100 parking spots, but only a few cited a plan to increase that number of spaces
  • Between public and private stops, there are a total of 313,000 designated truck parking spaces nationwide for the estimated 3.5 million truck drivers on the roads
  • The states with the lowest number of spaces per 100,000 daily truck vehicle miles traveled are Maine, Ohio and Illinois
  • The most popular unofficial and unsafe truck parking spots are freeway ramps, freeway shoulders, parking lots (private and public) and local roads

According to American Trucking Associations, the time spent looking for truck parking costs the average driver somewhere around $5,500 per year (an estimated 12% cut in annual pay) and 56 minutes of drive time per day. This results in driver frustration in pay and hours, and creates a lack of trust in the system which could be significantly contributing to the overall national driver shortage.

Map shows states that have and have not reported truck parking problems. The 12 States reporting no problems include Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Hawaii, and Ohio.

Source: US DOT Federal Highway Administration

What’s Being Done to Help Drivers?

The truck parking shortage is receiving national attention from both government organizations and private businesses, but it is neither quick nor easy to fix.

Government Resolutions

Both federal and state organizations are attempting to address the shortage through regulations and public rest stop enhancements. States like Wyoming and Iowa are adding additional rest stops and signs denoting available parking spaces along the freeways crossing their states. Some states like Arkansas are converting former truck inspection sites to parking-only facilities. The FHWA continues to offer funding through the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to organizations working on infrastructure developments, including public truck stop facilities and parking.

The biggest recent development in large-scale government legislation is the introduction of the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act (HR 2187) in Congress in March 2021. This bill would provide grants to states, metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and other public agencies for projects that would create parking for commercial motor vehicles through 2025. This bill has unfortunately not moved past the subcommittee on Highways and Transit, and still has many stages to go through before being passed and enacted.

Business Actions

Government agencies aren’t the only ones doing something about the national parking shortage. Many national truck stops and travel center chains including Pilot Flying J, Love’s Travel Stops and TravelCenters of America (TA), are hoping to add a combined 5,600 locations and more than 7,300 parking spaces between 2020 and 2021.

Many private truck stops are also stepping up security measures at their locations to help drivers feel safer while resting. These measures include everything from improving camera monitoring, increasing the size of parking spaces to allow for more privacy and room to move around, adding fencing around parking zones and more.

What’s Next?

As the 2021 holiday season approaches, the truck parking shortage will likely become more problematic as drivers extend their hours on the road to meet high demands across the country. Additionally, government legislation is slow-moving and construction season for the businesses improving their sites is coming to an end for the year. Industry experts are hopeful, though, that 2022 will bring increased attention and urgency to move the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act forward.

In the meantime, if you’re a driver affected by the parking shortage, there are multiple apps and services you can use to reserve parking spots in advance like TruckPark and Trucker Path. Many travel centers also have parking reservation services on their apps, like Pilot Flying J’s Prime Parking feature.

We know the parking shortage can take a toll on drivers, both with time and money spent on finding parking. If you’re looking to streamline your business operations and increase your cash flow, contact RTS today to learn about fuel discounts, competitive factoring rates and more!

Sources: U.S. DOT, American Trucking Associations, Congress.gov