Shortage of Safe Parking for Trucks

In Canada and the United States trucking associations are spreading awareness of the need for safe parking for large trucks. This may not be seen as a real problem by the non-trucking public. Most people sleep safe and sound in cozy bedrooms. Sleeping in a truck under unsafe conditions is different.

Truck stops are often located near large city centers and next to a major highway such as the US interstate system or Canadian highways. Traffic noise while trying to rest is a constant drone and takes time to get accustomed to. Many truckers must run their trucks’ diesel engines for climate control while trying to sleep with the cab rocking and vibrating all night.

It’s a serious stressor for drivers to try to find safe parking. And when they can’t find a spot they fear for their safety. Many have been victimized by being robbed, some even murdered.

Lack of Adequate Spaces

But for truck drivers in North America the grim reality is there are not enough safe parking spaces available for all the trucks in transit. The situation is not new. It’s been going on for decades and it is not improving.

Truckers spend time each day looking for an available place to park. That is unpaid work they must put in. And now with the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, truckers are in danger of violating hours of service regulations so many resort to parking in unsafe areas such as abandoned parking lots, empty gas stations and industrial areas to avoid penalties for noncompliance.

The Irony

These essential workers put in long shifts and need rest to avoid fatigue that can cause drowsy driving and result in highway deaths or injuries. And the stress of their job can cause other health issues. Some even go so far as to park on highway on and off ramps that are unlit and dangerous.

The irony of the situation is truckers are required to take regular rest periods to avoid fatigue and make highways safer. Yet for many drivers there are not enough spaces to park safely during mandatory resting hours. And that puts them in danger of penalties or worse outcomes.

Drivers waste precious time going from one truck stop to the next looking for an empty space where they can park and enjoy a meal, a shower and a good night’s rest in the sleeper berth. Most freight gets delivered in large cities so truckers plan to rest near their delivery point.

But truck stops fill fast with trucks crowding everywhere. Rest areas are an option with limited truck parking and only vending machines for food and drink. No showers available but they do provide washrooms. They also fill up quickly.

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Jason’s Law

In 2009 trucker Jason Rivenburg neared his delivery point but the shipment wouldn’t be received until the next morning. With no truck stop or rest area to park at, Jason pulled into an abandoned gas station and went to bed in his sleeper birth. Later he was shot and killed there and robbed of the $7.00 in his wallet.

The incident brought awareness to the shortage of safe parking in the US and Canada. It resulted in Jason’s Law being created with measures to be undertaken to relieve the ongoing shortage of safe parking in the United States.

To date, not enough has been done to alleviate this problem and too many of these essential workers still have to park in dangerous places to get their mandated rest. And with funding pouring into pandemic spending can it be that the parking initiative will get swept under the rug at least for now?

We hope not. Men and women’s lives are at stake. And trucks are not going away. There will always be the need for fast delivery of goods throughout the world. No other shipping method can deliver as quickly as trucks and that is going to continue.

Parking Strategies

Until parking is available for all we suggest the following:

  1. Plan your route so that you are able to rest within reach of your delivery without running short of hours of service.
  2. End your day early and look for a spot at a truck stop, rest area, or weigh station whichever is nearby.
  3. Pay to reserve a spot at a truck stop where you know you will be safe. Your life is more important than $15 or $20.
  4. Use smartphone apps to locate available parking near your desired location.

We sincerely hope the insights provided here will help to broaden awareness of our concern for our trucking heroes. Stay safe out there. Push for funding to construct more safe parking. And we thank you for your service.

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