FHWA reveals updated Jason’s Law truck parking survey

December 1, 2020

Tyson Fisher

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An updated version of Jason’s Law truck parking survey was revealed during the fifth National Coalition on Truck Parking meeting, giving stakeholders a glimpse of what has changed since the first survey’s results were published five years ago.

The Federal Highway Administration hosted a meeting with truck parking stakeholders on Tuesday, Dec. 1. In addition to a general discussion about the truck parking crisis, Jeff Purdy of FHWA’s Office of Freight Management and Operations presented a snapshot of the results of a Jason’s Law survey that was conducted last year. Full results will be released on a later date yet to be announced.

During opening remarks, FHWA Deputy Administrator Mala K. Parker reminded states that federal funding is available for both increasing parking capacity and parking availability information systems. FMCSA Deputy acting Administrator James “Wiley” Deck mentioned partnerships with the administration to address truck parking, including a grant to Delaware for a parking information system, another grant to Massachusetts for a truck parking feasibility study, and a partnership with Texas A&M Transportation Institute to look into expanding parking along certain corridors.

Members of the National Coalition on Truck Parking gave updates about what they are doing to address the truck parking crisis, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Trucking Associations and Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. Notably absent were representatives of Natso, the association representing private truck stops, who could not attend because of a scheduling conflict.

 

Comments about truck parking can be submitted to FreightFeedback@dot.gov.

New and old truck parking problems

According to the latest Jason’s Law survey, there are about 313,000 truck parking spaces across the nation, including 40,000 at public rest areas and 273,000 at private truck stops, an increase of 6% and 11% between 2014 and 2019, respectively.

In 2019, Jason’s Law survey revealed many of the same shortages identified in the 2014 survey, including Interstate 95 in the Mid-Atlantic and north regions, the Chicago area, and California in general. Additionally, new shortages were found in the latest survey, including the entire I-95 corridor, Pacific corridors, states surrounding the Chicago region, and other major freight corridors.

Regarding public rest areas, Jason’s Law survey results indicate that not many new facilities or truck parking spaces are being developed. According to FHWA, challenges exist in planning, funding and accommodating truck parking. In addition to a need for research and discussion about business models and impacts, local government involvement and education is also needed.

Some states reported fewer public spaces compared with 2014, including Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah and Washington state. On the other hand, Delaware, Florida and Tennessee all experienced relative significant increase in their public truck parking spaces.

Truck parking an issue for nearly every trucker

Of the nearly 11,700 truck drivers who took the survey, a 43% increase from the first Jason’s Law survey, 98% reported problems finding safe parking. Issues with truck parking were reported in every state and region. The highest rate of parking issues were found along major freight corridors in states along Interstate 95, the Chicago region, and Interstate 5 in California. Time frames when truck parking is most difficult include at night from 4 p.m. to 5 a.m., during the week Monday through Thursday, and in the colder months of October through February.

FHWA also gleaned the following from truckers’ responses:

  • Truck parking is most problematic along key freight corridors and in metropolitan areas.
  • Drivers need a variety of parking types.
  • Design is important in truck parking.
  • Safety/security is valued.
  • Public rest area closures present challenges.
  • Receivers should offer parking on site.
  • Truck spaces need to be reserved for trucks.
  • Regulations impact parking.
  • A public sector/citizen connection to trucks is needed.
  • Drivers using apps and smart technology for routing and parking.

Illegal truck parking along major freight corridors

Input from state commercial motor vehicle safety agencies show the states with the highest rate of unofficial or unauthorized truck parking are typically those with major freight generating areas, major ports and intermodal facilities. California, Florida, Texas and Illinois are among the states with high numbers of unauthorized parking.

According to the latest Jason’s Law survey results, the majority of unauthorized truck parking occurs on ramps (58%) and shoulders (34%), most often between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m.

CMV safety agency respondents reported that unauthorized truck parking is related to limited spaces and inclement weather, especially snow storms in the Rocky Mountain states. Illegal parking also occurs when trucks park to stage while waiting for deliveries. Based on that information, FHWA claims dynamic messaging signs and other technologies are needed to send out information about parking availability.

Truck stops filling up past capacity

Truck stop owners also participated in the 2019 Jason’s Law survey. According to the survey, more than 87% of identified truck parking is at private truck stops.

The average number of truck parking spaces per truck stop is 143 spaces. Truck stops are reporting being over 100% capacity overnight, on weekdays and from May to October. Nearly three-quarters do not monitor parking. Those that do monitor spaces manually. More than three-quarters of truck stop respondents do not offer reservations, and 75% do not charge for parking. Of those that do charge for parking, 3% waive the fee for drivers who buy amenities or food.

Despite the need for parking and reports of operating over capacity, 79% of truck stop respondents said they do not plan to add more truck parking.

Port authorities

New to the 2019 Jason’s Law survey, port authorities weighed in on the truck parking crisis. In total, 17 port authorities responded.

Of the 17 port respondents, nine reported there is no on-site truck parking. One port did not respond to the question. In the seven ports with truck parking, the number of spaces ranges from 15 to 200 spaces. Only four allow around-the-clock parking. The other three allow off parking during the day or early hours before the port opens.

Seven ports reported needing more truck parking spaces either at or near the facility. However, only two of them plan to add spaces. Additionally, only one port authority monitors parking using Intelligent Transportation system, with none of the ports offering parking reservations.

A solution to the truck parking problem

During the National Coalition on Truck Parking meeting, Bryce Mongeon, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s director of legislative affairs, gave a short presentation about the truck parking bill currently in the House, HR6104.

“One of the points we’ve been impressing on lawmakers is that no amount of parking is too small, and that every new space is important,” Mongeon said. “We’ve shared with them the creative solutions implemented by some states, including those that utilize existing right-of-way to add parking. We want them to know that we understand there won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution to this problem, and that state and local decision makers should have the flexibility to address their specific needs.”

HR6104 was introduced in March by Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill. If signed into law, $755 million in federal funding would go toward adding parking capacity. Additionally, no fees can be charged for a commercial vehicle to access and park at any part of the facility constructed with the grant money.

Mongeon pointed out that the results from the first Jason’s Law survey were “incredibly important” when informing Congress members about the truck parking crisis.

“With the Jason’s Law survey, we’ve been able to show them the extent of this problem on a state and regional level,” Mongeon said. “Lawmakers want to know how an issue impacts their constituents directly, and the 2015 report, and now the updated 2019 survey, will really help to provide that specific information.” LL

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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.