The Truck Parking Crisis – Responsibility of the State or Private Industry
Truck Driving, more specifically The Truck Parking Crisis, is a factor that has an effect on everyone in every industry and walk of life. 2019 is going to be a dramatic year of rises and falls in our economy, our politics, and the trucking industry. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the facts that every single American is touched, in some way, by the Truck Parking Crisis. As a person that works for a company that has been, and continues to, be hard at work to creating answers to the Truck Parking Crisis in America, I decided to look into how and who it effects.
If you are a truck driver then you know the truck parking nightmare all too well. As a driver, that is a driver for a company and not an owner/operator, you are impacted directly by the “Hours of Service” laws. The laws that mandate how much you can work and the mandatory times you must come to a stop within a 24-hour period. The public, at large, do not realize that the “hours of service” law is the case for drivers and how it affects their work day. If we were to ask a professional in any career, other than professional truck driver, to only work so many hours and then at the limit of those hours they had to come to a complete stop no matter what, how would that work. I will give just a simple scenario here as an example. What would it look like if it were a doctor? Now, more often than not a doctor, in a busy metropolitan environment, works shifts in a hospital of up to 36 hours straight, with some intermittent naps if possible. In many cases naps are just not always commonly available due to the constant onslaught of patients coming in as emergencies. So, what would most of us do if we, or a loved one of ours, were to be rushed into a hospital emergency room, via a horrible car accident, and the doctor on duty said to us;
“Sorry I really would love to help but the fact is my hours that I am allowed to work have just come up and I am required to either sit here and do nothing or go home and do nothing for the next 14 hours.”
Some of you are thinking that my example here is not a fair comparison. But, what if the freight on a truck were something needed so bad that it might save a life, like medications to a pharmacy or? Of course, the example is not going to be allowed. Such a situation, within the world of medicine directly affecting too much of our society, would never be allowed by private and governmental departments working together to ensure this type of situation remains hypothetical. Yet, the direct and the indirect effects of the trucking and logistics industry touch every one of our lives in the United States and beyond. As I have mentioned, in previous talks, look around in your life, and see if there is anything, be it a product or service, that has not spent some time or have had some connection to being on a truck. 76% of all logistics move on commercial trucks. When it is examined the statistic is that on a daily basis there are 1.5 million trucks on the road looking for a safe place to park and of that need there are only 300,000 parking spaces potentially available.
We know there is an enormous demand for truck parking across the United States and we know that the demand is only going to continue to grow. Yet, the local, state, and federal government offices continue to do research programs and simply stop there. So, then the questions beg as to who will pick up the slack and help move forward. Don’t get me wrong, I am not here trying to blame the government offices across the United States for the truck parking crisis. I am simply trying to bring it out of the dark ages of simply researching a fact, that we all know exists, and then let it end there. I am suggesting that the government offices, state to state, begin to be more open and willing to work with private industry to create the parking facilities that our industry, and the world of commerce and public safety need. It is going to take more than simply knowing the statistical numbers. Those of us in the traffic and logistics industries, including the government departments, know what the statistics are and have been historically and that they will do nothing but grow with increased speed. This is not an epidemic that will be cured by autonomous trucks. We, as a society, as an industry, and as an economy need an answer today and in the near (3 years or less) future. So, what is the answer to this issue?
There is no single quick fix answer to this issue but there is a fact that both sides of the issue must face. I believe, that the government departments at the city, county, state, and federal levels have to get past the simple statistics and look towards working with private companies, that have been in the truck parking space for more than just a few months as an extension of another business. They have to be willing to work with such companies as “Partners” in business. Give tax breaks, give true help for land use zoning, be willing to give government land leases to the companies that are actually in the business of helping and answering the needs of the driver, the freight industry, and the communities they are needed in. I can only speak from our experience in that we have been fortunate enough to be currently working with Washington State DOT, Oregon State DOT, and Nevada State DOT, and private companies like Amazon logistics and how helpful they have been to work towards developing a working relationship that is more than just simple statistics and more of a business relationship. All of our efforts have been in order to achieve a successful outcome for not only the drivers and the logistic companies, but for the economies they are a part of and seek to help.
The truck parking crisis is not something that will go away. The truck parking crisis is not something that will be remedied in one to three years. The truck parking crisis is something that will increase every year with no end in sight for the foreseeable future. The truck parking crisis affects every single one of us in the entire United States and thus will take a “Real” working partnership of government and private industry. As I am writing this article, we are the 22nd day of the United States Government shut down. As a nation, we are beginning to feel, and see, the ramifications of what can happen when one side cannot work with the other side in unison. I believe, and truly hope for our industry and that of the American society, that state and federal departments can begin working hand in hand with private industry to remedy the Truck Parking Crisis.