America's Truckers Have Nowhere To Park

Image: Freightliner
Image: Freightliner

Parking is a touchy subject in the United States right now. Whether you’re talking about new construction parking minimums in cities, street parking being removed in favor of bike lanes, or metered parking rates, it seems everyone has an opinion about where they put their wheels when they aren’t turning. But perhaps the biggest parking crisis facing the country right now is parking for long-haul truckers.

While half of the country will lobby their local governments for more suburban and urban car parking at the expense of seemingly anything, practically nobody wants truck parking in their neighborhoods. The American Transport Research Institute issued a report in 2016 stating that the eighteen-wheel behemoths that keep the economy humming spend as much as 56 minutes per 14-hour shift hunting for a safe place to park. And when they find it, it’s expensive.

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There’s a race to the bottom right now in trucking, as consumers demand faster shipping at lower costs. Margins are tiny, trucker salaries are shrinking, and safety is degrading. Any company willing to raise rates high enough to cover parking, or to cover paying to build parking infrastructure, would be abandoned by its customers in a minute.

It’s a tough time to be a trucker right now, and the national disrespect paid to the people who carry our goods is appalling. It’s probably time for lawmakers to step in, as they did in setting those 14-hour drive maximums, and make conditions for drivers better. Whether that’s incentives paid to trucking companies for building infrastructure, or increased taxes on expedited shipping to reduce demand for speed, nobody can be sure.

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