Truck Drivers Need More Parking

A survey finds that parking is the No. 1 issue for truckers, and truck stops are stepping up to help.

January 12, 2023

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—There is one semi-truck parking spot for every 11 truck drivers, with 313,000 total truck parking spots in the U.S., reports Transport Topics. The data come from a recent survey conducted by the Federal Highway Administration, American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

Parking their big rigs is the No. 1 issue plaguing truck drivers, the survey found. This has been the top issue for three years in a row, and parking is especially challenging in metropolitan areas, where population densities create increased consumer demand for truck freight.

Truck stops across the U.S. recognize the issue and are working to expand their locations and/or add technologies and amenities to meet drivers’ needs.

Pilot Company offers more than 75,000 parking spaces across its locations and now offers paid reserved parking for truck drivers, which has “absolutely” caught on, according to Allison Cornish, the company’s vice president of store modernization.

“Searching for parking information, availability and reservations is one of our most popularly used digital capabilities,” Cornish told Transport Topics. “One of the primary benefits of paid parking is the peace of mind it affords a driver. It enables the driver to know that they will have a place to stay when they need to stop for the day.”

Drivers can use Pilot’s myRewards Plus app or website to view a location’s parking spaces and how many are reserved.

In March, Pilot launched its $1 billion New Horizons initiative, which will fully remodel more than 400 Pilot and Flying J travel centers, as well as make upgrades at several more locations. Before the initiative launched, Pilot surveyed truck drivers to find out where the company should make improvements, and they said they wanted amenities, such as showers and restrooms, food options and the ability to get in and out quickly, including parking.

TravelCenters of America (TA) also offers reserved parking for truck drivers through its Reserve-It parking program, which allows drivers to reserve about 16% of the more than 48,500 truck parking spaces the company provides. Like Pilot, professional drivers can utilize TA’s app, TruckSmart to access parking information.

TA also recently renovated 50 locations, including more comfortable driver lounges, renovated restrooms, upgraded showers and repaved parking lots.

Love’s Travel Stops offers 43,650 parking spaces across its more than 600 locations on a first-come, first-served basis at no charge. Last year, Love’s opened 25 locations across the country and added 2,134 truck parking spaces.

“Regarding companies doing a great job of adding additional parking and building new travel centers, Love’s really stands out,” Shanna Getto, a professional driver, told Transport Topics.

However, Love’s, along with other truck stop companies, find opposition when developing new locations. Last August, Love’s was forced to cancel a five-year project to build a site on Interstate 90 in Ramsay, Montana, even though the company received the final approval it needed from the Butte-Silver Bow Board of Adjustment. According to the survey, a top recommendation was to encourage local and regional governments to reduce regulatory burdens limiting the construction and expansion of truck parking facilities.

Transport Topics reports that in heavily populated areas, there is increased pressure on local governments from residents who want the goods delivered by truck but do not want to provide parking, making it a challenge to ease the regulatory burdens limiting construction of additional parking.

Overall, drivers want a safe, reliable place to park their rig. Chuck King, a professional driver, told Transport Topics, that he doesn’t begin his day of driving until he knows where he’ll stop and rest at the end of the day.

“I use satellite view to see the entrance and parking layout of each location so there are no surprises when I arrive,” King told Transport Topics. “Because of this, I typically don’t spend much extra time searching for parking, which saves time on my available hours of service.” King added that he uses the mobile apps Trucker Path and ParkMyRig.

Getto also prefers to reserve parking space through apps.

“It’s easy to use the TA/Petro and Flying J/Pilot apps to reserve parking,” she added. “I use this feature when I’m stopping in or around a major hub, and I know parking will be limited by the time I arrive.”

King told Transport Topics he usually parks at a truck stop, but he doesn’t choose one based on amenities.

“I choose based on whether there’s safe parking,” he said.

Last year, the Biden Administration introduced a Trucking Action Plan. The plan aims to improve trucker retention and recruit more truck drivers and in return, help the national supply chain for the long-term.

NACS Magazine shared how carriers are casting a wider net for applicants to fill truck driving jobs in “Women on the Road” in the October 2021 issue.