Attention Walmart parkers …

March-April 2020

Tyson Fisher

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In this edition, we’ll clear up some questions surrounding parking at Walmart lots. Also, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sounded the alarm during a Senate hearing.

Walmart parking

Over the past year, there have been several local news stories about trucks parking at Walmart. Most of the time, it is either about the local Walmart strictly enforcing no-parking rules or how the retailer either will or should do just that.

As far as the drivers are concerned, Land Line has been getting a lot of feedback. More specifically, truckers are claiming that they have always been able to park at Walmarts, and all of a sudden now they cannot.

One driver called in to let Land Line know about a situation where she was parked at a Walmart for a few hours while spending a few hundred bucks inside. She came out to find her truck gone. It had been towed. Also worth mentioning is the fact she was bobtailing. This was not a case of a tractor pulling a 53-foot trailer taking up space and obstructing the view of the general motoring public.

So what’s the deal? Does Walmart have a nationwide parking ban coming from the corporate office?

According to Walmart spokesman Casey Staheli, the company does not have a blanket policy when it comes to truck parking.

“We have processes in place to comply with laws on this issue,” Staheli told Land Line in a statement. “Additionally, based off certain internal criteria, our store managers are empowered to make decisions that best meet the needs of their customers, community and the store.”

There are likely several factors in play at any given location. To start, Walmart does not own the property at every store. Some locations are on leased property. In those cases, Walmart is at the mercy of the landowner when it comes to whether or not truck parking is allowed.

Of course, there are also city ordinances. It does not matter what Walmart wants. If a city does not like trucks parking in its jurisdiction, there’s nothing Walmart can do.

Lastly, there are the few bad apples that spoil the whole bunch. Sometimes these come in the form of truckers dumping trash in the parking lot. Other times, it is egregious air or noise pollution. Either way, when these bad apples come to town, company managers don’t want them in their lot.

When it comes to parking at any retail shopping center, park at your own risk.

Never assume that parking is allowed, even if you have parked there before or because trucks are parked there right now. Look closely for “no parking” signs. Keep in mind, they are not always in the most visible places. Don’t hesitate to ask a manager either.

Walmart values truck drivers. Its company drivers get paid more than most. The Walmart near where I live has trucks parked there all the time. There are no city ordinances, residents don’t care, and Walmart managers definitely want them coming inside to shop.

Nevertheless, there are too many uncontrollable external forces at play in regards to truck parking. Make sure to account for those factors.

OOIDA informs Congress about truck parking

One of the biggest battles when it comes to getting more parking spaces is somehow getting the general public to understand the magnitude of the problem. That includes lawmakers.

On Feb. 4, OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety. Titled “Keep on Truckin’: Stakeholder Perspectives on Trucking in America,” the hearing addressed a variety of topics related to the industry, including truck parking.

“Despite the U.S. Department of Transportation noting that the lack of truck parking had become a serious highway safety concern back in 2015, nothing has been done to address the growing crisis our members face every day,” Pugh stated in submitted testimony.

Included in OOIDA’s written testimony were suggestions Congress should consider when constructing the next highway bill. Among the suggestions was dedicated funding for new truck parking capacity. The keyword here is “capacity,” not “studies” or “technology.”

Then there is this:

“OOIDA has spent the last year working with our industry partners and members of Congress to develop a solution to this growing safety concern. Too many federal dollars have been spent recently on technology-based solutions that fail to address the root of the problem. We’ve determined federal investment in the expansion of trucking parking capacity is key. Soon, bipartisan legislation will be introduced in the House that would establish a competitive discretionary grant program – funded through existing highway safety programs – for truck parking projects across the country. With a focus on increasing capacity, the bill would provide funding for the construction of new rest areas and truck parking facilities while also helping public entities convert existing spaces – such as inspection sites, weigh stations and closed rest areas – into truck parking locations.”

The American Trucking Associations and Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance also mentioned the truck parking crisis. The Truck Safety Coalition, however, didn’t mention parking once in submitted testimony, which is a big reason why The Parking Zone exists. LL

Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.