The Federal Highway Administration’s National Coalition on Truck Parking released its first activity report. It was formed in response to Jason’s Law, named in honor of Jason Rivenburg, a truck driver who was attacked and murdered on March 4, 2009, while sleeping in his truck at an abandoned gas station near a delivery location that was not yet open for the day. He had been unable to find a dedicated truck parking facility and learned about the abandoned gas station from other truckers.
Members include representatives of the trucking industry, commercial vehicle safety officials, state departments of transportation and commercial truck stop owners and operators.
Last year, the coalition conducted four regional meetings. Coalition members discussed four main aspects of the truck parking problems: parking capacity, technology and data, government coordination and funding/finance/regulations.
The use of public land within highway rights-of-way for truck parking was a popular suggestion among stakeholders. Highway construction areas used for storage of equipment could be used for truck parking after construction completion. Other options include the use of carpool lots during overnight hours, truck chain-up areas during summer months, and ports of entry and weigh stations as temporary parking areas.
Updating the national standard for parking facilities, considering the needs of oversized trucks, security and lighting, and maximizing the capacity of a rest area within a highway right-of-way was another suggestion. This includes updating the size of parking spaces and parking time limits.
Another major topic was bringing shippers and receivers into the conversation and encouraging them to allow truckers to park on their premises, especially where paved, adequate space is already available.
Improving the efficiency of the nation’s infrastructure could also alleviate some the truck parking problems. Stakeholders suggested that reduced congestion could prevent truckers from having to stop at unanticipated locations to adhere to hours of service regulations.
Developing tools to disseminate real-time information about parking availability at highway rest areas and private truck stops and incorporating truck parking technology into trip planning and reservation services using existing fleet management software was also brought up.
Another topic mentioned was the funding of facilities to accommodate truck parking, as well as regulations and policies that affect truck parking utilization.
Some stakeholders pitched the idea of using existing taxes or fees to provide a dedicated funding source for capital and maintenance funds for public rest areas and truck parking facilities.
Possible public-private partnerships were suggested to develop new or expanded parking facilities. The Nevada Department of Transportation entered into an agreement to build a new truck parking lot adjacent to a Flying J truck stop off I-80, with the truck stop providing litter control and basic maintenance of the site.
Despite the lack of support from the trucking industry, parking fees were also discussed. Some stakeholders said such fees could be inevitable in solving parking issues in metropolitan areas where demand far exceeds the supply.
The coalition mentioned the Trucking Moves America Forward campaign as an example of ways to reach out to the public and educate them about the importance of trucking and truck parking.
Lastly, city parking projects in Elmira, N.Y., and Weed, Calif., were used as examples of successful implementation of truck parking solutions at the municipality level. In those cities, the local government paved unused land owned by the city and turned it into truck-only parking lots.
Going forward, groups will be established to continue working on implementation strategies for the initiatives discussed during the previous meetings.