Finding convenient and available parking is a significant problem for truckers. In a recent study, parking was ranked as the second highest concern that truckers have today and as their number one cause of stress on the job. When truckers are unable to find parking, it increases the likelihood that they will violate hours of service limits, which becomes a safety and liability issue. Lack of parking also may lead truckers to park in unsafe areas and spend significant amounts of time trying to find parking, which results in lost revenue.
Truckers generally view truck stops and rest areas as the best places to stop to abide by the Department of Transportation’s hours-of-service limits. Under these rules, truckers can drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive off-duty hours and must take mandatory 30-minute breaks. When truckers cannot find parking and don’t get adequate rest breaks, they are more likely to be fatigued and to fall short of HOS requirements, which can lead to accidents, fines, a lower safety rating and/or criminal penalties. A recent study shows that 70 percent of drivers have had to violate HOS because they can’t find parking.
We hear from our trucker customers that they often start their days in the wee hours of the morning so that they can stop and park their trucks at mid-afternoon, before parking areas are completely filled. This affects their ability to get adequate sleep and rest if they are waking up at 2:00 A.M. every day. The alternative is to pay higher parking rates later in the day or to park in areas that aren’t as safe. When truck stop and rest area parking lots are full, truckers may have to drive 100 miles to find the next parking location, which creates stress and diminishes time for sleep and rest. When truckers aren’t allowed to park at shipper and receiver facilities prior to their scheduled appointment times, many truckers have to seek out temporary parking, which can be expensive and difficult to find. Truckers have many expenses to contend with when they’re on the road and often many stressors, including traffic, detention and weather. Adding temporary parking to this list of worries adds undue stress to a trucker’s day and ultimately diminishes revenue.
Personal safety and the safety of freight are important to truckers, for obvious reasons. With the current parking shortage, truckers may be forced to park in areas that aren’t designated for trucks or that are unsafe. Truckers are particularly vulnerable at night when they park on city streets, on the shoulder of roads, on exit ramps or in vacant lots. According to FreightWatch International, more than 75 percent of truck drivers regularly experience problems with finding safe parking locations when rest is needed and 90 percent struggle to find safe parking at night.
Lack of safe and convenient parking diminishes a trucker’s annual revenue by approximately $4,600, according to the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO). NATSO also finds that truckers are losing nearly an hour a day on searching for safe parking. Technology such as the Trucker Tools driver app can help address these problems with parking. Our driver app includes a feature that finds Wal-Mart locations along your route. As most truckers know, some Wal-Mart stores allow overnight truck parking in their lots. The driver app also includes real-time information on truck stops and rest areas so that truckers can identify rest stops from their smart phones and plan accordingly, in addition to real-time fuel prices and information on weigh scales, truck wash locations, weather and traffic. We hope to include real-time information on available parking in an upcoming update to our driver app, along with integrations that allow truckers to book parking directly from the Trucker Tools app.