One of the biggest ifs in an over the road driver’s day is “will I find a safe place to park tonight?” And that question nags at her or him every day, getting worse as the day wears on. The harsh but simple truth is that there are many more trucks on US and Canadian roads than available truck parking spots.
Not a New Problem
This dilemma has become prominent in North America over a number of years as more and more trucks occupy roads and highways. Drivers often spend unproductive hours just searching for a safe parking space to rest when their shift is over. Hours of service records require rest and sleep at the end of a shift. Every day. And when a safe parking space is not found, some resort to parking on roadsides or freeway on or off ramps which is dangerous and, in most cases, illegal.
Some drivers park in retail store parking lots but when doing so, have been awakened to find their trucks will not move due to a clamp placed on a wheel. The driver is subsequently held for ransom to get back on the road. We have heard a fee to free the truck is often $2,000 or more. It is hardly fair when truck drivers deliver essential services. Impairing truck drivers simply raises the cost of all goods.
The causes of truck parking difficulties are various, such as hours of service regulations, many roadside rest areas have been closed, and the fact that much freight is delivered to major urban cities where little or no parking is available for trucks. And there are few reasons for truck stop chains to build new travel centers near cities where land is costly and difficult to find. Then the cost of clearing the land and purchasing permits to build, paying for sewers, paving for parking, etc. At most truck stops parking is free and not earning anything no matter how much capacity is available and how full it is. Yet the truck stop must pay for such expenses as repaving, trash removal, and snow removal services seemingly without end.
Truck stops own the majority of available truck parking spots in North America. Some are already charging for the privilege of parking and that may be the way of the future. But this expense should not be borne by drivers. Shippers should be responsible for the delivery cost of their freight. Indirectly they pay for various trucking transportation costs like maintenance, repairs, fuel, insurance, tires, etc. The cost of delivery of their freight should not rest on the backs of transporters.
For now though, truck drivers face a daily struggle to find safe parking.