Truckers: Brother, Can You Spare a Parking Spot?

In my post last week, What Carriers Look For in Shippers, I highlighted the following comment by Ben Cubitt from Transplace:

Driver-friendly facilities is another factor that carriers look at. When a driver gets to a facility, can he go to the restroom? Are there vending machines? Equally important, is there parking for the driver? That’s really a big issue. If the driver gets to a facility early and the load is not going to be ready for 4-5 hours, can he park in the lot and take a break? It’s really a challenge for the driver and the carrier if there is no parking on-site and the driver has to go 5-10 miles down the road to a crowded truck stop and use some of his available hours, and with Hours of Service, that’s more of a challenge.

In this morning’s Wall Street Journal, there’s a great article (Too Many Trucks, Too Little Parking) that provides more detail on this problem, which has led to drivers being robbed and/or killed, including one case where a driver’s body was found inside his burned truck that had been parked just 150 yards from the locked factory gate he was delivering to.

The parking problem is not new, but it’s getting worse, exacerbated by (among other things) the new Hours of Service rules. In a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley in the spring of 2012, 70 percent of the truckers surveyed who travel along Interstate 5 in California said they had tried to stop at a truck stop along their route but they were all full — and more than half said this happened every other day. In an informal Web survey conducted by Hope Rivenburg, whose truck-driving husband was murdered in 2009 while parked in a deserted gas station, nearly 40 percent of the 4,000 drivers surveyed said it takes them, on average, an hour or more to find parking for the night.

Here are a couple of charts I created based on data from the WSJ article that further illustrates the problem:

Source: Federal Highway Association study
Source: Federal Highway Association study
Source: 2013 Web survey conducted by Hope Rivenburg
Source: 2013 Web survey of truckers conducted by Hope Rivenburg

Simply put, if you’re a shipper looking for a ways to strengthen your relationship with carriers, providing them with parking, either at your facility or working together to develop a solution, is a great place to start. Aside from being the right thing to do, the last thing you want is for your company to make the headlines in the Wall Street Journal because a driver was killed while parked just outside your locked gate.