Trucks lined up at a truck stop. They are parking in the night.

The Parking Problem

In 2009, a trucker named Jason Rivenburg was shot and killed by a man who stole $7 in cash from him. Forced to park in an abandoned gas station when he became tired, Jason became the victim of a brutal crime. Sadly there are other stories similar to this one; it’s not the first time this has happened nor was it the last. It’s been 7 years since the murder of Jason Rivenburg, and even after a law has been passed, can we say that much has been done to address this problem?

According to a recent report from the Federal Highway Administration, 72% of states reported having problems with truck parking. What is causing the problem for the lack of parking? There are a couple of factors that could be playing into this:

• HOS Rules

With the hours of service rules in place, truckers may not be able to find parking when the clock runs out. In an article by Fleet Owner, one trucker said that the closest safe parking to his intended destination was 15 miles away. In traffic, that distance could be up to 45 minutes. Because of HOS rules, this 45 minutes could cause a trucker to go over his or her allotted time. The impact of hours of service rules on truck parking is causing many truckers to park in unsafe areas, like along highways, interstates, exit ramps and abandoned lots.

• Lack of truck stops

The United States went through a recession in 2008. During this time, trucks on the road decreased and many truck stops had more spaces than trucks. A couple of years after, the economy picked back up as well as the number of trucks on the road. However, truck stops haven’t caught up to the demand, creating a lack of safe parking at truck stops.

So what’s the solution?

After the tragedy involving Jason Rivenburg in 2009, legislation occurred to increase available, safe parking for truckers through Jason’s Law. The law was passed in 2012 providing more than $6 million to put toward the construction of safe truck parking.

In 2015, the National Coalition on Truck Parking was created through the Federal Highway Administration to address this shortage. The coalition met in the fall of 2015 after the survey results of Jason’s Law confirmed the lack of safe parking available. During this meeting, the coalition defined some obstacles and opportunities to reaching the ultimate goal.
The United States Department of Transportation conducted a Beyond Traffic study and concluded that by 2040 the amount of freight moving in this country will increase by 45 percent. Therefore, the truck parking issue needs to be addressed way before we get to that point.

Many truck stops are expanding their spaces and giving truckers the option of “reserving” spots. However, this can cost money, and should a trucker have to pay for his or her safety? Another option for truckers is the big box stores that sometimes let truckers park in their parking lots. Many of their parking lots have the ability to hold that amount of weight, because freight is coming in and out constantly, However, not all big box stores have the same policies. While some are welcoming to big rigs, others turn them away. This is not always a viable option, so it can’t be the only solution.

In addition to the coalition formed, Truckers Had Enough has created a video creating more awareness of the truck parking problem.

Ultimately, we can create laws and coalitions, but in the end, we need to prevent more Jason Rivenburg situations; we need a solution.