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For those that see the highways of America as their office, how does our parking infrastructure look to them. Better yet, does it cater to helping facilitate their job?
While there is hope on the horizon the current situation leaves quite a bit to be desired.
In this blog post, we will shed some light on this issue. We are going to take a look at the parking infrastructure shortages, why they are so important and what is being done to correct the situation. Furthermore, we are also going to discuss what impacts those corrections will have on the supply chain.
The truth is that parking space in the U.S. is mostly off-limits to the 3.5 million trucks that traverse America to keep goods moving. This fact makes a tough job quite a bit more difficult.
In some cases, this creates unnecessary danger to both truckers and pedestrian traffic alike. Current data regarding this issue shows that there is an 11 to 1 discrepancy between trucks on the road and available parking locations. It is estimated that this lack of room to rest means that drives can lose around $5000 annually simply trying to pull over to take the breaks required by the Department of Transportation.
This kink in the parking infrastructure has a rippling effect that impacts every step of the delivery process. Take for example the snowballing cascade effect as supply chain bottlenecks resulted from the port closures of early 2020. Following this, many of the once regularly-visited rest stops were shut down completely further reducing truckers options.
The good news is that because of that recent logistic upheaval there are several agencies looking into different avenues to source the financial backing to improve the parking infrastructure.
One of the movements toward resolving the situation is the aptly named Truck Parking Safety Act. This act seeks to secure $775 million in a bid to begin working on behalf of the industry to resolve this pain point for the nation's truck drivers.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigigieg recently stated the Department of Transportation is "very concerned" about the state of parking for truckers. He has even suggested that money set aside for environmental improvements could be used to combat this issue, citing the increased carbon emissions from trucks idling or being forced to seek parking for an extended period of time.
The Infrastructure Bill (H.R.3684) didn't directly lay out money for parking. However, it did put funds into accounts used for truck parking infrastructure needs. This includes for all the preexisting sources such as the national highway freight program, the surface transportation block grant, and the highway safety improvement program.
So much focus is on the issues around national logistics as of late due to several factors. This could signal that it is only a matter of time until there is no longer a wide gap between trucks and parking.
However, it will be imperative to keep support high for the movers of 70% of all domestic commerce. Those paying attention to the supply chain industry are acutely aware of the shortage of available drivers. This has been a growing issue before the COVID-19 pandemic. What most might not know though is that the lack of parking is one of the leading causes for the retention issues that continue to haunt carriers large and small. It isn't such an apparent connection but those hours they need to be off the road and resting are vital.
Ultimately, the fix will not be a quick one as there are numerous other things that also need attention. One of these issues being the US bridge infrastructure. Having said that, there are a few ways to slightly improve the situation immediately. This would include things like reopening highway rest stops nationwide, for example. Converting DoT weigh stations into parking lots is another option to consider for improving truck parking infrastructure.
We often take for granted how easy it is to find a parking space in our daily drives. For most of us, it is an endeavor that we don't tend to think too much about. Parking is usually readily available wherever we may be. But for the highway heroes that keep goods flowing, this has been a daily struggle for decades.
Coordinating the allocation of funding and the efforts of several government agencies in a rapid manner is the best response on paper. It is also, thankfully, exactly what is happening due to the recently exposed shortcomings in America's logistical infrastructure.
Truck parking infrastructure improvements lead to better working conditions for truckers, yes. But on the flipside, it also means safer roads for all drivers and lower turnover rates for freight carriers.