In February of this year, leaders from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) wrote a joint letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, urging the USDOT to prioritize truck parking in its work with states and localities.
A particular focus was on the funding contained in the 2021 “Infrastructure Bill.” While that legislation did not directly designate federal funding for truck parking, it did make truck parking an eligible item in several infrastructure programs.
The U.S. Department of Transportation acknowledged the ATA/OOIDA letter early on. Now it has responded in full force. In late September, the USDOT convened a meeting of the National Coalition of Truck Parking and unveiled a “Truck Parking Development Handbook,” designed to help states plan and build new truck parking capacity. Of equal importance to states willing to tackle the truck parking shortage was a USDOT memorandum describing in detail the funding categories where truck parking is an eligible expenditure and how states can access those funds.
Secretary Buttigieg was joined by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Robin Hutcheson and by Federal Highway Acting Administrator Stephanie Pollack in emphasizing the importance to highway safety and to the nation’s supply chain of safe, convenient, and legal truck parking. The officials also highlighted recent federal grants, totaling nearly $40 million, to build 120 new truck parking spaces in Florida and 125 in Tennessee, along with truck parking improvements in Montana and Kentucky.
The physical construction of new truck parking is a necessary but often long-term project. In the short term, motor carriers can take these steps to help their drivers find truck parking and avoid dangers:
- Plan. Ask drivers to report potential parking locations and follow up with property owners and local officials to determine availability, safety, and legality.
- Work with customers. A few may allow overnight parking. Many will accept a 30-minute rest break on their property, if drivers simply ask. If the customer doesn’t allow parking, work with them to find safe and legal truck parking nearby.
- Educate drivers on HOS rules. The 2020 hours of service rules created more flexibility for drivers taking the 30-minute rest break. For overnight parking, drivers should clearly understand how to use the “personal conveyance” option to reach a safe parking location.
- Eliminate guesswork. Learn from what happened to Jason Rivenburg. Look for safe and legal parking options before driving. Open communication among all carrier team members can help provide accurate information.
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