Safe parking for large trucks is impossible to find for many truck drivers. Some drivers are forced to park in abandoned unsecured lots, on highway shoulders, and even freeway ramps just to satisfy Hours of Service regulations for rest periods. Such spaces are downright dangerous for truck drivers, and they know it is affecting their sleep habits. This is hardly a new situation. The parking crisis in North America has been a point of contention for decades.
Unfortunately, it is about to get much worse with the increase of the implementation of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). Politicians and the media continue to tout the benefits of BEVs for heavy trucks and all other vehicles. Zero emission vehicles are certainly necessary for offsetting the effects of climate change. But where is the charging infrastructure? So far all we are seeing for truck charging purposes are truck terminals with charging capacity, which means only short-range trucks can transport freight and return to the terminal on a single charge.
What then, of long haul transportation? No such charging infrastructure exists for that sector so far. When we consider long haul freight, we’re not talking about overnight trips, rather several days or weeks to a trip. If a long haul BEV could average 6 hours on a charge, and the same amount of time to recharge, that amounts to a serious slowing of the supply chain and the ensuing frustration of shippers, receivers and consumers as days and weeks are added to a single trip.
Add to that the serious infighting among truckers wanting parking spaces for charging that will be almost impossible to find with today’s few parking spots. More time is lost on an already overly long trip away from home. Drivers’ home time is already short. The situations we’ve considered so far will most likely worsen the already significant truck driver shortage. Few drivers will line up for a position with that sort of time away from home.
Driver compensation will need to reach stratospheric levels just to get drivers of uncertain ability. Do we really need all these conditions for the sake of saving the planet? Perhaps not. But it will take action and serious planning within the various players. An obvious starting point is increasing truck parking. Then research must be performed to discover where and how the vehicle batteries of the future will perform better than today’s short-range solutions and where the raw materials will be sourced and incorporated.
Recruiting and training technicians and drivers and getting them employed is another necessity that will keep the flow going ahead. Virtually all new and existing truck parking will need to contain charging abilities. Science will continue to play a large role in keeping freight moving smoothly and offsetting the effects of climate change on the planet and society. We’ll be watching and waiting.
Until then, motor safely.