The efforts of trucking organizations to include more safe parking space in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending package appear to have fallen on deaf ears. But that has not deterred advocates and private-sector companies from advancing the cause.
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) executive vice president Lewie Pugh recently lobbied Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to allocate a meager $1 billion for additional safe parking spaces.
“Truckers need a safe place to rest when they’re tired and to comply with mandatory breaks required by federal regulations,” an OOIDA letter reportedly states. “If truck drivers can’t find a safe and legal parking space, they are forced to park in unsafe locations, such as road shoulders or vacant lots, or continue driving when they may want to take a break or are in violation of hours-of-service requirements.”
The DOT secretary and other officials widely agree that subpar working conditions are among the top reasons for high industry attrition. Despite agreement and massive supply chain investments in the pipeline, the safe parking issue has, again, taken a backseat in government spending priorities. That may be why private sector organizations that work with truckers every day are filling the void.
Love’s Travel Stops recently expanded its locations to Heflin, Alabama; Kimball, South Dakota; Fillmore, Utah; Leavenworth, Indiana; and Klamath Falls, Oregon in December. These new locations provide weary truckers with an additional 380 safe parking spaces.
“For only the second time in the history of Love’s, we’re opening five new locations in one day that will be ready to help get customers back on the road quickly and safely,” CEO Greg Love reportedly said.
Not only do these trucker-friendly facilities deliver sorely needed safe parking, but they also provide amenities such as bathrooms, showers, and hot meals, among others. One encouraging aspect of Love’s locations is that the company invested in more truck spaces at each location than the number of passenger vehicles spots.
Similarly, Vantage Truck Parking recently opened a new location near Detroit that adds another 350 safe spaces to the Michigan tally. Like the Love’s truck stops, Vantage provides amenities such as showers, laundry facilities, and a convenience store. The new parking facility is located near Exit 214 on I-75.
Although the OOIDA indicated its members are “extremely disappointed that the IIJA (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) does not dedicate any funding exclusively to truck parking,” all is not necessarily lost. The Federal Highway Administration reportedly held a virtual National Coalition on Trucking Parking Workshop on Dec. 16. The online conference was part of an information-gathering effort to create a truck parking handbook designed to help lawmakers make informed decisions.
Illinois Rep. Mike Bost introduced the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act that would put $755 million to work for truckers. The bill has garnered bipartisan support and co-sponsors. Although CDL professionals and trucking industry businesses are not necessarily getting the support they deserve from Washington, D.C., the safe parking movement continues to gain traction.