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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Upcoming Truck Parking Survey To Use “Creative Thinking” To Solve Critical Problem


The Federal Highway Administration says the nationwide truck parking survey they expect to conduct this August is going to be “expanded to ports” to explore port-generated truck parking needs. Caitlin Hughes, director of the FHWA’s office of freight management and logistics, noted this will be in addition to surveying the needs of the nation’s interstate highway system.

“We’re going to look at the [parking] needs of drayage and short-haul local [truck] drivers as well as long-haul operators,” she said. “Truck parking is a safety issue – we need to solve this issue but we cannot do it alone. We need to do it in partnership with the states and the private sector. We need to work together to meet these [parking] needs. All states have this problem.”

She said the survey should help FHWA better identify freight congestion points on the national highway system. “We get used to bottlenecks – we create work-arounds for them,” Hughes explained. “So there has to be a dialog between all of us. There are so many different best practices out there. Creative thinking needs to go into how to make this better for everyone.”

Dan Murray, vice president of the American Transportation Research Institute, noted that “we are in a crisis stage now” regarding the truck parking shortage, with ATRI’s data indicating truck drivers search for parking on average for 56 minutes per day, which represents an “opportunity cost” of $4,600 annually in terms of lost wages per truck driver; a number Murray said can represent up to 10 percent of a truck driver’s annual salary.

“Congestion is an underlying factor to the truck parking problem, but different states have different truck parking problems,” he added. “It’s a complex issue.”

Hughes also discussed the FHWA’s very first “Highway Freight Conditions and Performance Report,” delivered to Congress on July 6. She pointed out that only 36 or 37 states have established freight advisory committees and expressed the hope that more would soon be formed.

“With rapid change going on in the freight world – with drones, autonomous vehicles, and truck parking just some of the major issues – it is really critical to have them in more active engagement,” Hughes said. “I urge you to keep going with them or get them up and running – they are critical to making sure freight projects integrate well with communities and meet needs of freight stakeholders.”