ELDs and the Rising Issue of Truck Parking

It’s hard not to notice the increase in number of trucks parked at roadside rest areas or Walmart parking lots these days, especially if you’re driving by in the evening hours or early morning. I drive by one of each (a Walmart parking lot and a rest area) on my way to work each morning at 7 o’clock and have definitely noticed more trucks over the past few months. What’s causing the increase of truck parking in the industry?

The Cause of Truck Parking Issues

In February 2017, the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration released survey results that reiterated the need for more truck parking nationwide. At that time, US Deputy Transportation Secretary, Victor Medenz, stated “We know truck parking has been a longstanding problem in our nation and we need new approaches to fix it.” Over a year later, and we now see this more than ever, likely thanks to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) ELD mandate.

Due to the ELDs tracking, drivers are being forced to find the closest place possible and pull over for their mandatory off-duty hours. According to Overdrive, the majority of truckers are running days, leading to prolonged occupation of available parking spaces through the overnight hours.

Truck Parking is the 4th Most Prioritized Issue in the Industry

According to The American Transportation Research Institute in October 2017, truck parking was the fourth most prioritized issue facing trucking stakeholder alliances. On average, drivers are spending one hour a day looking for parking, costing approximately $4,600 in lost wages yearly. Upon review of the results of the massive survey, sponsored by The American Trucking Association, it can be noted that issues 2-4 are all very close related.

The second biggest issue is the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate, third is hours-of-service regulations, and parking in fourth. These combined stressors lead to strain in fleet efficiency, as well as the health of drivers. The question then becomes, “What can be done about this?”

What’s Being Done to Fix Truck Parking Needs

In August 2018, the FMCSA started conducting listening sessions (in response to a petition from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association) to discuss the possible reform of the hours-of-service regulations in response to the growing concerns from drivers and companies. This overhaul to the hours-of-service regulations will focus on four main ideas:

  • Extending the 14-hour daily limit to 16-hours in the event of adverse conditions
  • Allowing drivers to segment their 10-hour off-duty period
  • Revising the 30-minute break requirement
  • Expanding the hours limits for short-haul drivers

One of these listening sessions will be held in Reno, NV on September 22, 2018 to gather input from the public and members of the transportation industry. You listen to that session by clicking here. There will also be one September 28 in Joplin, MO and another on October 02 in Orlando, FL.

What Your Drivers Can Do Right Now to Fix Truck Parking

In the meantime, there are few options. Drivers can keep using roadside rest areas (with congested on and off ramps), store parking lots (and fight the four-wheeled and pedestrian traffic), or use pay-to-park. Most major truck stops are now offering pay-to-park options, complete with reservations required. A cursory search of the Pilot Flying J Prime Parking site shows rates in Tulsa, OK from $12-18 a night for semis. There are some good apps available to help drivers cut down on the time it takes to find parking
(check out Trucker Path).

But, this doesn’t solve the issue of paying for safe parking. As noted above, drivers are already losing an average of $4,600 in wages just in the time to find safe, legal parking. If they paid to park overnight in a five-day run that would be roughly $90 a week, leading to another $4,680 a year. That brings the lost wages up to greater than $9,000 a year. With the use of apps to find and reserve parking on their route, the cost of lost wages from just trying to find parking can be greatly reduced (ideally absolved altogether).

Still, it doesn’t solve the issue of paying to park. Owner-operators don’t seem to feel the same angst toward paying to park as company drivers. The major reason for this is that they can pass the cost on to their customers. Some of the larger companies are opting to pay this fee for their drivers (either through deals directly with the truck stops or by drivers turning in receipts and being reimbursed) and this is correlating with happier drivers and higher retention rates.

How Infinit-I Workforce Solutions can help

Hopefully the FMCSA’s new initiative for reform of hours-of-service will help lessen this burden. Until the results are out, are you doing all that you can to control operating costs?

Contact us today to request a free live demo or let us bring you to Dallas to attend an in-person Engage Event to see how Infinit-I Workforce Solutions can help reduce your overall costs of operation.