Truckers Parking Nightmares
As usual, the top concern for carriers is the ongoing driver shortage. Others admitted concerns about CSA, rising insurance costs, and driver retention. The principal problem for drivers, however, is the truckers parking.
Our very own Craig Hart and Mark Rhea welcomed Anthony Petitte, CEO, and Founder of Truck Park, in a recent roundtable event. Truck Park is a platform for carriers to find safe, secure, and reservable truckers parking for their fleet.
You wouldn’t go on vacation without booking a hotel first. You shouldn’t send your drivers on the road without a guaranteed place to stop for the night.
You can watch the replay Fast Forward Expert Roundtable #24: TRUCK DRIVERS SAFE PARKING IS A TOP CHALLENGE
Parking in Perspective
Truckers Parking may not seem like a huge issue to those who have never experienced the stress. However, driving from full lot to full lot is frustrating for truck drivers, even more so after a long shift, crazy traffic, and a drive clock ticking down to zero.
Picture this, and you’ve just finished a shift. You had a long and stressful day at the office. The only thing on your mind is getting home, watching a little TV, and crawling into bed.
Traffic is a nightmare on your commute, your gas light is blinking, and you’d give anything for a cup of coffee. Add to that your spouse calls and says you have 17 minutes to get home because you’ve been at work almost 14 hours.
You finally pull into the driveway. Home at last! But you’re too late, the door is locked, and you don’t have a key. You’ll have to find another place to sleep. The motel down the street seems like your best option.
You jump back in the car, eyes heavy with sleep, and head that way. Oops, the flashing no vacancy sign means you’re out of luck.
There’s another motel a few miles down. It’s not in the best part of town, but they did rid of the bed bugs last year. You decide to give it a shot. As you roll into the parking lot, you notice a sheet of plywood propped against the front door with the words ‘Closed for Renovations,’ scribbled in red paint.
Only one option remains – the brand new skyrise hotel right off the interstate. The front desk clerk greets you with a warm smile and explains all the amenities in their one remaining room.
Finally, after exhausting all other options and running on fumes, you are 5 minutes away from a hot shower and a few hours of sleep.
“That will be $287 for the night,” the clerk says with a smile, holding out a hand for your credit card.
Now you must decide if that hot shower, stiff mattress, and gently used sheets are worth more money than you make in a day.
The Problem with Truckers Parking
Availability is just one of the ongoing issues when parking a big rig for the night. Drivers often find themselves in precarious situations if the parking spot they find isn’t ideal.
Drivers of high-value loads also have to keep their load secure throughout the night. They can take precautions like parking under lights or backing up to a fence so their trailer doors cannot be opened. Truckers Parking lots that lack security guards or cameras are a prime target for freight thieves.
The trucker’s safety is a top concern. Drivers who sleep in their tractors are in a vulnerable position overnight. It is especially dangerous if they park in a lot of stores that close or do not have adequate lighting.
In 2018, a 25-year veteran of trucking named Amos Phillips was met with a grim situation in Fort Hall. He parked his tractor in the parking lot of a TP truck stop and visited a nearby casino.
After trying his luck at blackjack, Phillips returned to the truck stop and climbed into the sleeper of his truck. He began his nightly routine, locking the doors and unwinding from the day before falling asleep.
It is unclear whether the truck stop had security guards watching the lot, but it is apparent that someone was watching Phillips. Slightly after dozing off, Phillips was startled out of his sleep by a man standing over him inside the sleeper.
The man demanded money from Phillips, or he would beat him. When Phillips refused to give him cash, the man repeatedly struck Phillips in the face with rocks.
Williams was able to escape his attacker by fighting back. He fought hard to stay alive. He kicked and punched anything he could reach. But it was 2:30 in the morning, and he was confused and afraid. Finally, he was able to kick his attacker with both feet hard enough to send him flying out of the truck.
Phillips called 911 and was treated for multiple broken bones in his face and nose and a blot clot in his brain. The driver who recovered the tractor was horrified to find bloodstains all over the sleeper of the truck.
8 Parking Questions Your Company Might Face
Do you drivers have an issue finding parking spots?
Of course, they do; all drivers do. This issue is large enough to gain the attention of the federal government. Jason’s Law requires the DOT to analyze the state of truckers parking regularly.
The DOT conducts a survey to determine each state’s ability to provide adequate, safe, and secure parking for truck drivers.
Jason’s Law was enacted in 2015 after truck driver Jason Rivenburg was shot and killed 12 miles from his drop-off location. Jason was ahead of schedule and was not allowed to drop off his load more than an hour ahead of schedule. He parked at a truck stop to wait for his delivery window.
Jason’s attacker watched him pull into the parking lot, crawled under his trailer, and waited for Jason to fall asleep. He climbed into the cab, shot Jason Rivenburg in the head, and stole the $7.00 that Jason had on him.
He left behind a wife, son, and unborn twins. This tragedy may have been avoided if the parking lot had been more secure or the receiver let him park in their yard.
Does your trip planning training include parking advice or instruction?
Every veteran driver knows the importance of trip planning. This includes checking available hours, pick-up and delivery times, alternate routes, weather, fuel, and fuel stops, etc. Focus is usually placed on the beginning of the trip and arriving on time to all destinations.
Truck parking is equally essential as the above considerations. This step should be included in the trip planning phase. A safe place to park will give truck drivers a clear picture of their goal for the day. It will also relieve the stress of frantically searching for a safe place when their daily hours are getting low.
Have your drivers ever run out of hours while looking for parking?
Admission to this question will prove you are aware of HOS violations. If your answer is ‘yes,’ be prepared to answer questions about what you are doing to prevent violations. Parking is a huge piece of the trip planning puzzle but is often overlooked.
While managing their fleet, dispatchers should be aware of this issue and advise drivers to plan for parking ahead of time. With proper training, operations and truckers can work together to avoid these types of situations and reduce HOS violations.
Do you drivers know what to do if the shipper/receiver rejects their request to park for a break?
Truck drivers are sometimes turned away from the shipper/receiver and are left to find parking on their own. Jason Rivenburg mentioned above is a prime example.
Michael Boeglin was on his way to pick up a load. He pulled over in a parking lot for the night because his pick-up was scheduled for the following day. In a suspected robbery, Michael was attacked. Five shots were fired, and then his tractor was set ablaze in an apparent attempt to destroy any evidence.
“He was always willing to help out a friend, loved to farm, and was so excited about becoming a dad.”
-Ashley Boeglin, Michael’s wife. They were expecting their first child.
Detroit experienced a string of heinous crimes that involved a fatal shooting and arson. Michael Boeglin was the 4th victim in 30 days.
Have you checked with your female and/or special interest truckers to make sure they feel safe?
Hiring for diversity and inclusion is a common practice today. Some trucking companies institute special campaigns specifically focused on special interest groups such as females, veterans, LGBTQA+, and more. Have you checked with your female and special interest truckers to make sure they feel safe?
Diversity and inclusion in hiring portray your company as culturally safe. In some cases, it is the determining factor for a trucker to choose your company when looking for a job.
Examine your company’s follow-through after hiring. In addition to diversity and inclusion in hiring, ensure your company culture reflects the same ideology.
Do you allow your drivers to carry weapons in their trucks, and do your policies reflect that?
You may not know whether your drivers carry a gun or other weapon in their truck because they keep it quiet. Consider your driver handbook. If you have policies that forbid self-defense weapons, make sure your drivers are aware and fully understand the policy.
This is a great topic to discuss in orientation; however, it is worth re-training your drivers at least twice a year. You can use the Infinit-I platform to distribute policies on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.
Drivers benefit from electronic access to these policies. Your company will benefit from retaining electronic policy acknowledgment signatures regularly.
Do your Operations employees understand the gravity of safe and secure parking situations?
Operation training on driver parking is just as necessary as driver training. Your operations team acts as your drivers’ advisors but, in most cases, lacks truck driving experience.
Your dispatchers, fleet managers, and weekend/graveyard teams must understand the importance of safe truckers parking. Their knowledge is another layer of protection for your freight and your company’s most precious assets, your drivers.
In June of 2021, truck driver Alfred Hill, Jr. was killed on the shoulder of I-70. His truck broke down while driving, and he was forced to pull over. He was struck by a vehicle while placing reflective triangles on the road.
His death was not the result of unavailable parking, but tragic nonetheless. Many drivers park their semis on the interstate when there are no other options and are too exhausted to continue.
Train your operations employees on the importance of safe and secure parking during trip planning. Use software, such as www.truckpark.com, to reserve safe truckers parking for your fleet before they start rolling.
How long do you allow a driver/tractor to remain parked before checking in?
As part of their job duties, operations employees should perform regular wellness checks on ill or fatigued drivers or drivers with prolonged idle times. Truck drivers face a morbid reality that any trip could be their last. All too often, truck drivers are found dead in the sleeper, sometimes days after passing. No truck driver should perish alone in the cab of a truck, away from family, far from home, especially due to lack of communication or because someone lost track of them.
Reginald Morgan was found dead in his sleeper in February 2021. In this case, his company did everything right. He contacted his dispatcher to report that he felt ill. Morgan failed to respond to contact attempts the following day. His company pinged his GPS location and ordered a welfare check. Officers arrived at the truck stop where he was parked to find Morgan passed away.
Morgan passed from natural causes, so in this case, it seems his death could not have been prevented. However, the company’s operations employees noticed several red flags like an illness report followed by non-communication. If they responded differently, Morgan’s body might have remained in that truck stop parking lot for several days. Such has been the case in several other tragic incidences.
To Learn More
Watch the replay of our expert roundtable titled, “We Saved You A Spot – Turn truck parking from a headache into a win!” Of the 1.1 million truck drivers in America (and only 313,000 parking spaces), 75% say they experience difficulty finding safe truckers parking.
A staggering 90% say this happens at night.
Truckers parking nightmares can be a simple solution that improves driver safety, wellbeing, morale and might improve truck driving retention.
CEO Anthony Petitte explains how Truck Park is the ultimate solution 75% of truck drivers are begging for. You will learn how dangerous it is to ignore your drivers’ parking challenges. Truck Park is a simple solution that improves driver safety, wellbeing, and morale and just might improve retention.
Infinit-I can help, too! We would love to give you a tour of our platform. Schedule a demo with one of our experts.
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