It is evident that the truck parking problem persists throughout the United States.
On Tuesday, December 5, the meeting of the National Truck Parking Coalition took place. During the gathering, transportation officials and stakeholders discussed recent developments in the field of truck parking.
Transportation authorities shared the measures they have implemented to address the issue. Various stakeholders, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the American Trucking Associations, and the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, reported on the status of their ongoing actions. The main topics covered were safety, technology, and financing.
A safety concern
The shortage of truck parking areas presents a threat to the safety of all drivers. Robin Hutcheson, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, emphasized that fatigue is the leading cause of accidents, serious injuries, and fatalities on the roads.
Alison Nealon, associate transportation planner at Caltrans, highlighted the number of collisions involving parked trucks on the roadside: between 2014 and 2018, in California alone, there were over 1600 such crashes. This count does not include traffic incidents involving fatigued drivers.
Is technology the solution?
Technology has played a crucial role in identifying problematic areas in truck parking. At the FMCSA, researchers have been using accident data and linking it to the issue of truck parking to assess the relationship between the two and safety. Nevertheless, it has been observed that not all technological solutions for truck parking have achieved the expected success.
Nicole Katsikides, senior transportation expert at FMCSA, said they are exploring truck parking-related technologies, mobile apps, and other strategies with the goal of understanding the parking pattern and assess safety impacts resulting from a lack of parking areas.
Financing only works if projects are approved
Despite the existence of various subsidy programs, it was highlighted at the meeting that financing is only beneficial if truck parking projects are approved.
Furthermore, it was pointed out that local zoning laws pose one of the major obstacles, along with the high costs of land acquisition. A case in California has been trying to reclassify land for parking construction for over a decade. Despite the availability of federal grants for these purposes, only a few applications have been approved.
Bryce Mongeon, director of legislative affairs at OOIDA, stated that the potential to address many financing problems lies in the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, a bill that specifically allocates $755 million for truck parking development. He added, “The main challenge is to ensure that this issue takes a prominent place on lawmakers’ priority list and that they are willing to dedicate the time and political capital needed to push it forward.”
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