America has a big problem in the trucking industry. The Hours of Service regulations force drivers to park at the end of their driving time, but there remains an overall lack of safe parking throughout the country.
This leaves truck drivers are faced with an unfortunate dilemma: drive tired past their HOS or park illegally and dangerously?
Concrete Proof Found in Virginia
A government study conducted in 2018 revealed just how bad the parking scarcity issue is. The project in question analyzed how many semi truck spaces were available along I-81 between Roanoke and the New River valleys.
According to the results, roughly 300 parking spaces are available. That’d be fine if there were only 300 truck drivers that need the spaces. But the study showed about 925 truckers need to park along the interstate at any given time.
In theory, this means 625 truck drivers that need to take a break while driving on I-80 are unable to do so. And that is just one stretch of the interstate. Virginia officials estimate there are 3,450 total parking spaces for big rigs along I-81, but about 4,400 spots are needed.
This parking scarcity issue is a decades-old problem.
Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Truckers are forced by law to adhere to the HOS, and truck drivers try to adhere to the 14-hour work schedule and limit drive time to 11-hours. Afterward, these big rig operators attempt to rest for 10-hours.
Unfortunately, things do not always go as planned.
All too often, when the 11th hour approaches truckers are unable to find a legal place to rest for the night. This situation forces truck drivers to either keep going until a parking space is found, or park illegally, risking fines or tickets.
Given these Catch-22 scenarios, lawyers for trucking companies are using the information to fight charges issued to truckers for either breaking HOS regulations or parking illegally. Despite these efforts, to-date, most judges rule in favor of state and federal laws.
We encourage truck drivers to do careful route planning and communicate with other driversabout parking spaces along their route. But even with these tactics, America needs serious HOS reform and more investment in infrastructure. As a new administration takes hold in Washington, contact your representatives and tell them you need more safe parking!