Solving challenges surrounding truck parking availability has been a top priority for the industry for quite some time now, and new legislation prioritizing boosted parking access for commercial motor vehicles has finally been brought to the U.S. House of Representatives in the form of the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act.
This bill will work to alleviate the issue of open parking spot scarcity across the country and comes after many years of transportation lawmakers working to bring awareness to this major issue that has been a headache–and safety problem–for truck drivers everywhere.
“I grew up in a family trucking business and spent years driving over the road,” said sponsor of the bill and Transportation Infrastructure Committee member, Representative Mike Bost. “Since then, we’ve seen the need for more trucks and drivers increase significantly, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when trucking helped to keep our economy going. However, the number of truck parking spaces hasn’t kept pace.”
Because the lack of parking spaces continues on, many truckers have had to put themselves and other drivers in unsafe situations.
“Creating sufficient parking options for long-haul truckers will not only help keep truckers safe during their rest breaks, but will also mean safer roads for everyone,” Bost added.
Bost originally pushed forth a version of this bill earlier on in Congress, but the legislation did not make it to the president’s desk. Now, the bill is co-sponsored by Representatives John Garamendi of California, Angie Craig and Pete Stauber of Minnesota, Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, and Susan Wild of Pennsylvania.
“Without adequate parking, truck drivers are forced to pull to the side of the road or continue driving–both of which are risky,” said Craig.
This updated legislation is now expected to be discussed during a debate about multiyear measures for highway policy by the House transportation panel–this measure would come as an update to an expiring national highway law first implemented in 2015.
Additionally, funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation would be allocated by this truck parking legislation to boost areas currently providing truck parking or that would be willing to provide such parking in the future. Specifically, 2022 would see $225 million dedicated to these sites with additional funding coming throughout 2026.
Federal and state officials would also both need to submit reports to Congress in regards to how the bill has affected the freight industry overall during that time.
Transportation committee chairman, Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon, has expressed his dedication for finding the best ways to boost truck parking across the country and told industry members in February that he would “meaningfully address that issue.” Many stakeholders have also long-supported resolutions to the truck parking space shortage and are in full support of this new legislation.
Stakeholders have also explained their stance that improving the accessibility of parking for truck drivers would not only boost overall driver safety, but would also enhance freight movement throughout the United States.
“The severe shortage of safe parking presents truckers with an untenable dilemma: Either keep driving when they are fatigued and possibly in violation of their federal hours-of-service requirement,” said Chris Spear, American Trucking Associations President, “or park in unsafe, sometimes illegal locations, such as a roadside shoulder.”
Independent truck drivers, who don’t always have the support and resources that fleet truckers might, have also explained their relief that policymakers are finally giving these issues the attention they deserve.
“Truckers often wonder if anyone in Washington is listening,” said Todd Spencer, President of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “The introduction of the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act shows that not only are some members of Congress listening, but lawmakers from across the political spectrum are willing to step up and address one of the greatest concerns for professional drivers: the national shortage of safe truck parking.”
ATA’s Spear has assured industry members that driver safety and supply chain efficiency are a top priority and that these both rely on safe truck parking options.
“The health and well-being of our drivers, the safety of the motoring public, and the sustainability of our supply chain all depend on Congress addressing this issue with adequate funding in a surface transportation [policy] bill,” he said.