Rocky Mountain Trucking LLC

The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, which would authorize $755 million in competitive grant funding to expand truck parking capacity across the United States, was introduced Thursday in the U.S. Senate.

Funding would be awarded on a competitive basis and applicants would be required to submit detailed proposals to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The primary focus would be to construct new truck parking facilities and convert existing weigh stations and rest areas into functional parking spaces for truck drivers.

A companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives was passed in July by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, but no votes have been held yet on the House floor.

The Senate version of the bill was introduced by Sens. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) and Mark Kelly (D-Arizona).

The Senate bill establishes new funding eligibility criteria, including considerations for drivers’ personal safety. The bill would also make routine maintenance expenses eligible for funding, as state transportation officials often cite maintenance costs as a deterrent to expanding parking capacity.

The American Trucking Associations applauded the bill’s introduction in the Senate.

“A chronic, nationwide shortage of commercial truck parking continues to strain our supply chain and jeopardize highway safety for all motorists,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “This carefully crafted legislation provides needed investments to remedy the problem while incentivizing public-private partnerships to further expand truck parking capacity.”

A U.S. Department of Transportation report found 98% of drivers regularly experience problems finding safe parking and that the truck parking shortage exists in every state and region. According to ATA, 70% of drivers have been forced to violate federal hours-of-service rules because of this common scenario.

To ensure they can find a safe and legal space, truck drivers often park prior to exhausting available drive time, surrendering an average of 56 minutes of valuable drive time per day, according to the American Transportation Research Institute. The time spent looking for available truck parking costs the average driver about $5,500 in direct lost compensation — or a 12% cut in annual pay.

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President Todd Spencer noted that only one parking spot exists for every 11 trucks on the road, and “when truck drivers don’t have a designated place to park, they end up parking on the side of the road, near exit ramps, or elsewhere. This isn’t safe for the driver and it’s not safe for others on the road.”