UPDATE: March 31, 2021: Rep. Mike Bost and Rep. Angie Craig reintroduced the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, according to a press release Monday.
Under the updated bill, funding — still the same amount of $755 million — would come from the Highway Trust Fund each year starting in 2022 until 2026. Grant recipients, which would be public sector entities, can partner with a private entity to carry out eligible projects. In fact, priority will be given to grant applicants that are able to use non-federal funds to help pay for the parking developments.
The previous version of the bill, introduced in March 2020, was referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, and no further action was taken. The spotlight the pandemic has put on supply chains could provide a boost to the bill.
"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," Bost said in a press release. "However, the number of truck parking spaces hasn’t kept pace."
- Congress introduced a bill to fix a shortage in available parking spots for large commercial trucks. Truck parking has been problematic for drivers for a number of reasons, including new federal regulations on hours of service (HOS).
- The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, introduced by U.S. Reps. Mike Bost, a Republican from Illinois and Angie Craig, a Democrat from Minnesota, would make $755 million available to states to finance projects aimed at increasing the number of parking spaces for commercial truck drivers, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
- The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) ranked truck parking the No. 5 biggest area of concern for the industry in its October 2019 report on critical issues.
There is a lack of places for truck drivers to safely stop, forcing them to pull over to the side of the road, or continue driving, both of which are risky, Craig said in a news release.
"One concern for truck drivers is the lack of enough safe parking spots where they can get the rest they need without risking collisions on the shoulder of the highway or being forced to push their limits to find the next rest stop," said Bost in a news release. "This puts the truckers and other motorists at significant risk."
Nearly half of all truck drivers report being forced to park on the shoulders of highways or other unofficial, unsafe locations due to lack of parking, according to the the ATA. On average, the annual cost of looking for parking amounts to $5,500 in lost wages per driver, ATA said.
Aggravating the problem are new federal rules about overworking. HOS means drivers have to pull over as soon as they reach their allowable hours worked per time frame. The bill would make $755 million available to states to finance projects to increase the number of parking spaces for commercial truck drivers. Options for conversion include old weigh stations and out-of-use rest stops.
A number of private truck-stop companies have rushed to add spaces for truckers. On March 9, Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores opened a stop in Schuyler, Nebraska. The store will have 59 truck parking spaces.
But a lack of parking spaces has been an issue plaguing the industry for more than a decade. The federal government tried to address the issue with Jason's Law, a 2012 federal rule to survey parking availability and issues. The law is named after a truck driver, Jason Rivenburg, who was robbed and killed in 2009. Rivenburg was unable to find safe parking, and parked in an abandoned gas station.
A 2015 survey by the Federal Highway Administration estimated there were 308,920 total truck parking spaces at rest areas and private trucks stops, with 12% at rest areas and 88% at private truck stops. With e-commerce booming and freight moving faster through the supply chain network, existing parking spaces are not enough for the industry, which has 3.5 million registered Class 7 and Class 8 trucks, according to ATRI and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Trucking officials believe the parking problem is so big, diverse voices within the industry came together to support Bost and Craig's bill, H.R. 6104. It is supported by the ATA, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Truckload Carriers Association and the National Association of Small Trucking Companies.