Speaking on a panel of industry experts at the National Association of Truck Stop Operators annual convention, a panelist noted that the parking shortage is taking thousands of dollars every year out of drivers’ pockets. But NATSO CEO Lisa Mullings, claims that the parking shortage is actually the fault of truckers.
On their website, NATSO says they represent over 1,700 truck stops nationwide. They describe themselves as advancing the success of travel plaza and truck stop owners “by delivering solutions to members’ challenges and achieving the public policy goals of the truckstop and travel plaza industry.” While their membership is not publicly available online, executives from top chains like Love’s, Pilot Flying J, and TCA sit on their board of directors.
At their annual conference held in Orlando earlier this month, a panel was held to explore “Changing Driver Needs” in the industry. As expected ELDs, HOS reform, infrastructure spending, and more were discussed. But given NATSO’s area of business, it’s no surprise that the topic of the parking shortage came up as well.
One of the panelists, ATRI Vice President of Research Dan Murray, shared some data on the impact of the shortage. According to ATRI, which is the research arm of the American Trucking Association, the average trucker spends about 56 minutes per day looking for parking.
“Basically, they’re not getting paid, it’s frustrating time and costs the average driver about $4,600 in direct lost compensation looking for truck parking,” Murray said according to Transport Topics. “It’s not just a safety and compliance issue; it’s an economic issue for some of these drivers, and our data shows for some of these drivers it’s the last nail in the coffin, and they’re out of here. It’s costing them time and money.”
But according to NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings, a lack of safe truck parking isn’t the fault of truck stop chains. She says if drivers would just pay for parking, the truck stop industry would make more parking spaces. Mullings claims that even if drivers have to pay to reserve a parking spot, that still ends up being less expensive than spending an hour a day looking for parking or parking in unsafe locations.
“I can guarantee you, the truck parking issue would be gone if people were willing to pay for it. It’s a cost of doing business that the truck stop industry has,” said Mullings.
Without drivers paying for parking, Mullings claims that there just aren’t enough incentives for the truck stop industry to make more parking available.
It’s not clear what incentives exactly Mullings was referring to. But in the past, NATSO has successfully lobbied lawmakers to introduce bills which would give companies significant tax breaks in exchange for opening rest areas with safe truck parking.