By Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau
Did you know that truck drivers are a very necessary part of the holidays? They are the folks who make sure your grocery shelves are stocked with holiday necessities, like cookies, cakes, turkeys and potatoes.
At this very moment, thousands of truckers are on the roads delivering toys, food, clothing and other essentials for our families and friends. These drivers work hard, and they need a safe place to rest as they travel.
Sadly, there isn’t always enough room for them.
Last year, USDOT released Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey results, which confirmed a nationwide shortage of safe truck parking. We called for transportation stakeholders to come together and find solutions, convening the first National Truck Parking Coalition in November 2015.
Since then, we’ve held coalition meetings in Utah, Texas, Missouri and Maryland. Last week, we held our second national meeting.
(Learn More, courtesy of SenJimSeward and YouTube)
Jason’s Law (H.R.2156/S.971) a pilot program to establish safe, long-term parking facilities for commercial vehicles. The law is named for Jason Rivenburg, a truck driver from Schoharie County, who was murdered at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina while resting in his rig.
Jasons tragic, senseless death highlights a serious problem facing hard working truck drivers on a daily basis, said Senator Seward. I commend his family for all they are doing to protect other truck drivers, and stand with them in their fight to make sure more children wont be forced to grow up without a father.
Federal law mandates that drivers rest for ten hours after driving for eleven hours straight. Federal law also prohibits driving for more than sixty total hours over a seven day period. Jason was a mere 12 miles from his destination but under the law, was forced to stop and park in a desolate, poorly lit area where he was killed for $7.
Solutions to truck parking shortages will call for an increase in parking capacity, improved access to real-time information technologies and data, more funding, and better coordination among state, regional, and local partners.
The good news is that states will be required to have freight plans to obtain funding under the National Highway Freight Program (NHFP), a new program under the FAST Act.This program provides the opportunity for truck parking needs to be addressed.
But measuring the problem and finding the right solutions is complicated and no single organization will have all the answers.
USDOT’s “Beyond Traffic” report predicts that America will add 70 million people over the next 30 years, and freight shipping will increase by an average of 45 percent. In some regions that serve as freight hubs, the growth could exceed 70 percent.
I’ve spent a good part of this year hosting a series of freight roundtables across the country related to the “Beyond Traffic” report. They were held in 24 cities, from Bangor, Maine to Oakland, California.
We wanted to hear firsthand from a range of freight stakeholders about the issues they face as they move freight across the country which helps our economy grow.
And, time and again, truck parking was an issue that kept coming up.
Like most transportation issues, it’s going to take a partnership of federal, state and local governments and the private sector to increase the amount of safe parking available to our nation’s truck drivers.
The willingness of partners to join in this coalition was a critical first step.
(Podcast interview with Hope Rivenburg, parking advocate and widow of slain trucker and Jason’s Law namesake Jason Rivenburg. Courtesy of overdrivemag and YouTube)
We’re excited to bring everyone together today to share the coalition’s successes and talk about the challenges that remain.
Ultimately, the vital engine of our economy comes down to the hard working truck drivers navigating our nation’s roads in their trucks – alongside commuters, vacationers and others.
It’s imperative that these truck drivers have a safe place to park and get the rest they need.
As truck traffic increases, which “Beyond Traffic” predicts it will, the demand for truck parking will continue to outpace availability.
It will become more important to give commercial truck drivers access to safe, secure and accessible parking. This holiday season, let’s give truck drivers our thanks and continue working to give them the parking spaces they need to safely rest and recover.
To learn more, please visit https://www.transportation.gov/.