Industry awaits next move on proposed legislation to improve truck parking in the US

Trailer Parking Improvement

Everyone in the trucking industry wants more parking. Even though strides are being made to build new sites for drivers to shut down and rest, there’s still a long way to go to remedy the shortage.

Proposed legislation has given hope to many in the industry. Known officially as HR2367, the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act would provide $755 million over three years to expand truck parking capacity. Right now, the act’s fate is unknown.

David Heller, senior vice president of safety and government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association, is optimistic.

“We continue to pitch co-sponsors for the bill,” he told Truckload Authority in April. “In the Senate, there are 15 co-sponsors, and another recently signed to get this moving — to make the act something the Senate cannot refuse. Our target is between 20 and 25 co-sponsors. As we continue down the road and push for the legislation, it’s still being talked about. The opportunity could be there in a year-end spending package.”

On May 23, 2023, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure passed an amended version of the act by a vote of 60-4 — and the bill has not moved since.

Heller said he hopes that, if a funding package is introduced for the act, it won’t be roped into a larger bill filled with pork-barrel spending.

“This is a problem that needs to be remedied,” he said.

In a statement regarding the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, TCA said it applauds the effort.

“This positive outcome represents a significant step forward in enhancing driver safety, ensuring compliance with federal regulations, and improving the operational efficiency of the trucking industry,” according to TCA’s statement.

Currently, the trucking industry is facing a critical shortage of parking spaces, with a ratio of just one parking spot for every 11 drivers.

“This legislation highlights the Committee’s dedication to resolving the persistent challenge of truck parking shortages, which have long posed safety risks and hindered the productivity of supply chains,” the TCA said in its statement. “Adequate truck parking facilities allow drivers to take necessary rest breaks, comply with federal Hours of Service regulations, and effectively manage their schedules, leading to increased efficiency and improved road safety for all.”

At the American Trucking Associations (ATA), Chris Spear, the association’s president and CEO, pointed to the parking act and several other pieces of legislation as positive measures for the trucking industry.

“(These) comprehensive and bipartisan bills … would address some of the root causes of ongoing supply chain challenges and improve the overall safety, efficiency, and resiliency of freight transportation,” he said.

“ATA has repeatedly engaged with Congress to discuss persistent challenges facing our industry, and we thank Chairman Graves for his attention to these issues and for his leadership of today’s markup,” Spear continued. “We also commend the bill sponsors who worked with us and other key stakeholders to craft solutions that would benefit our industry, the economy, and American consumers.”

The Institute for Safer Trucking and Road Safe America sent a joint letter on October 2, 2023, in favor of the proposed legislation.

“As organizations committed to promoting truck safety, we are writing to express our strong support for the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act,” the letter said. “We believe that this legislation is an important step toward improving the safety and well-being of commercial truck drivers, as well as other road users.”

The letter went on to say that the shortage of safe and accessible truck parking spaces is a significant problem that affects drivers across the country. “The lack of available parking spaces can force drivers to park in unsafe and illegal locations, such as highway shoulders and off-ramps. This creates a dangerous situation for both the truck drivers themselves and other road users,” the statement noted.

“If we are truly going to improve safety throughout the trucking industry, it is essential to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of commercial truck drivers. By providing safe and accessible truck parking facilities, we can help ensure that drivers can rest and recharge.

“This will not only improve safety in the short term by reducing crashes, but it will also improve it in the long term. By improving truck drivers’ experiences on the road, the industry can improve retention of safe, experienced drivers,” the letter concluded.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2024 edition of Truckload Authority, the official publication of the Truckload Carriers Association.