Truck parking crisis given attention at Senate hearing
March 23, 2023
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., gave attention to the lack of truck parking during a Senate subcommittee hearing on Thursday, March 23.
“I’m told that drivers will literally drive around for an hour or an hour and a half to try to find a spot before their hours run out,” Boozman said.
Thursday’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development hearing included Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg as the featured witness.
Boozman used his time to highlight the lack of available parking for long-haul drivers.
“I’m really interested in the Department of Transportation’s long-term plan to build truck parking capacity,” Boozman said. “We’ve heard repeatedly from representatives of the trucking industry that nationwide shortages of truck parking capacity is a key driver of supply chain inefficiency. For every 11 drivers, there’s only one truck parking space.”
Buttigieg called the lack of parking for tractor-trailers a safety concern.
“I completely agree with the importance of this issue,” Buttigieg said. “When you talk with truck drivers, it’s one of the first things they’ll raise. And it’s not just a matter of convenience. It’s a matter of safety. It means that as a driver is on their route and they see that they are getting close to their limit for hours of service, they are faced with the choice of stopping short and losing income – even if there is an open space close to them – or to park in a place that’s unsafe.”
The DOT leader said he would welcome a dedicated program for truck parking but also noted efforts his department has made toward reducing the problem. In September, the Department of Transportation announced investments to expand parking capacity on the interstate system. These investments included $15 million to add about 120 spaces in Florida and $22.6 million to add about 125 spaces in Tennessee.
Buttigieg said his department is informing states that there is existing discretionary funding that can be used for truck parking.
“We have taken steps to urge state DOTs that this is often an eligible use of funds,” Buttigieg said. “We would love to see more of those funds going to that purpose.”
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also is working with lawmakers to create dedicated funding for commercial drivers to take their mandated breaks.
In the previous Congressional session, a truck parking bill was introduced in the House and Senate. The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act would allocate $755 million over four years for the expansion of truck parking across the nation.
OOIDA is hopeful the bills will be reintroduced soon in both chambers. LL