Truck parking crisis draws spotlight at another congressional hearing

May 12, 2021

Mark Schremmer

|

Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., can be added to the growing list of lawmakers calling attention to the nation’s truck parking crisis.

During a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation subcommittee hearing about freight mobility on Tuesday, May 11, Lummis asked about the gap between the number of truckers needing to stop and take a rest and the number of parking spots available.

“Because of the hours-of-service regulations, there is a lack of dedicated truck parking, and I see it,” Lummis said. “I see it with my own eyes on Interstate 80. How large is the gap between the number of trucks we have on the road and the amount of parking made available to them?”

ATA President Chris Spear used the question to tout the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, HR2187, which the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association helped craft and Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., introduced. The bill would direct $755 million to increase truck parking capacity.

A huge problem

“It is a huge problem,” Spear said of the truck parking crisis. “You don’t have to go far from this dais. You can … get on I-95 to Baltimore, and you’re going to see multiple trucks parked on the shoulders and on the on and off ramps, and it’s a hazard, but they have to comply with their rest breaks. Without the parking to do that, they are putting the motoring public at risk. This has become a national problem. You don’t have to go far from here to see it.

“It definitely needs to be part of any legislation that you need to consider. This component (HR2187) is key, and our entire industry is very much behind it.”

Spear also mentioned the truck parking crisis in his written testimony, citing statistics from the Federal Highway Administration that found 98% of truck drivers regularly experience difficulty finding truck parking.

OOIDA also has been calling attention the truck parking crisis for years. In April, the Association sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg asking him to address the issue.

“A lack of parking makes it challenging for truckers to rest when they are tired, makes it difficult to comply with hours of service regulations, and often forces them to park in hazardous locations,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer wrote. “This creates a safety issue not only for truckers but for the motoring public as well. OOIDA has been working to address this growing problem in a meaningful way for a long time, but so far we’ve not been able to get much more than studies and reports telling us what we already know – more capacity is needed.”

Growing support for HR2187

The good news for truck drivers is that a growing number of lawmakers are taking notice. In addition to Lummis’ comments on May 11, the parking crisis has been brought at several congressional hearings over the past few months.

During a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on April 14, Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., demonstrated her support for HR2187.

“The (highway) bill should incorporate provisions of my Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, HR2187, to address the shortage of parking for commercial motor vehicles to improve the safety of commercial motor vehicle drivers,” Craig said.

On consecutive days in March, Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Bost spoke out about the lack of truck parking at their respective hearings. At Fischer’s Senate hearing on March 24, the executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission said that the lack of truck parking is a “serious problem.”

“Most interstate commerce corridors in our region suffer from truck parking shortages, with this shortage forecast to worsen in the future,” Douglas Hooker testified. “To support the nation’s interstate commerce, the trucking industry needs safe and accessible parking.”

A promise

In February, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., promised to “meaningfully address” truck parking in the pending highway bill after discussing the issue with OOIDA.

“I had a long talk with Todd Spencer of OOIDA last week,” DeFazio said during the House markup hearing in February. “We delved into many issues, but one of the most prominent issues was truck parking. I promised him that we would meaningfully address that issue in (the highway bill).”

As of May 12, the bipartisan Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act had 21 co-sponsors, including 13 Republicans and eight Democrats. LL

TravelCenters

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.