If you're an owner operator who has been hauling recently, you probably have had to deal with the lacking number of available parking spots at rest stops. This is not an isolated issue and has become a nationwide problem for commercial freight drivers.
A study conducted by the American Trucking Association found that there are currently 3.5 million truck drivers on American roads, with only 313,000 parking spots available. This means that for every eleven truck drivers in America, there is only one parking spot available.
The current shortage in parking has become significant enough that it has caught the attention of high-ranking government officials, including officials in the White House. This article will go over the potential causes of the national freight parking shortage, while also providing insight into some possible solutions.
1. Causes of The Freight Parking Shortage
While there are many contributing factors that can be attributed to the national freight parking shortage, increased demands for consumer goods in the post-pandemic economy is the main culprit.
With increased demand in the economy, comes increased demand for commercial drivers and owner-operators, which decreases the amount of available freight parking spots for said freight drivers. In conjunction with this, the lack of investment in commercial parking infrastructure and legislation that restricts freight drivers to where they are allowed to park their trucks has left freight drivers struggling to find safe and reliable locations to stop. Rest stops are also outdated and don't provide the amount of parking that is required. Warehouses also do not provide overnight parking, which can make drivers scramble for available parking elsewhere.
Driver etiquette has also been a cause of some warehouses and parking locations prohibiting freight drivers from parking there. As a driver it is important to be respectful of the place that you are parked. Pick up any trash that you may have left in the area and generally be respectful of others. Drivers who are more committed to respect and how they conduct themselves will help ease parking restrictions at certain locations.
2. Solutions to the Freight Parking Shortage
Some potential solutions to the commercial parking shortages that truckers face are both short term and long term resolutions. One of these is to utilize rest stop apps to both reserve parking and see parking spot availability. Flying-J currently has an app for their rest-stops where freight drivers and owner operators can see products that can help them stay healthy on the road, available parking spaces and reserve parking in advance, easing the stress of finding a safe place to stop after a long stretch of driving, which can be found here.
Another solution is for the government and rest-stops to invest more into freight parking. However this would take time to devise and implement, so commercial drivers would not see the benefit of this in the short term.
Restrictive legislation has also made available freight parking hard to come by. If this legislation was relaxed more due to our current economic environment. These would ease the freight parking shortages as well.
In the end, the main problem causing the freight parking shortage is an influx of drivers and a shortage of parking spots. In general, once supply chain issues ease and consumer needs are met, the freight parking shortage will correct itself. But this is hard to predict.
3. Freight Parking Shortage conclusion
In conclusion, the parking shortage is a complex issue with many different variables and will most likely take many different solutions in order to resolve. With the Post-Pandemic economic boom easing, new funding promised for parking infrastructure and consumer demand starting to taper off, the end of the parking shortage is in sight. But it will take time for the trucking industry to feel the effects of these solutions.