National Coalition on Truck Parking showing signs of productivity

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 7/18/2016

In an effort to address the truck parking issue, the Federal Highway Administration created the National Coalition on Truck Parking, consisting of industry stakeholders. Four events were scheduled to discuss the problem, with the latest meeting in Hanover, Md.

With two down and two to go, participants seem optimistic.

Led by FHWA, the core members of the coalition include the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, American Trucking Associations, National Association of Truck Stop Operators, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. The second of four regional meetings took place at the Maryland Department of Transportation headquarters on July 12.

OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Scott Grenerth was joined by five others representing the Association and its members, three of whom are drivers. Other OOIDA members representing drivers were also present.

Grenerth said a large amount of time was spent looking beyond the traditional rest area/truck stop parking template and finding other ways to solve the problem, especially with shippers and receivers.

“Specifically what we are looking at is utilizing spaces within industrial parks where you have multiple shippers and receivers – either one of them or a couple of them or if they have land that’s in the middle or adjacent to them – they could share cooperatively and say ‘Hey! Trucks can park here,’” Grenerth said.

To emphasize the benefits of what Grenerth called the “co-op model,” a truck parking pilot between Unilever, a shipper/receiver, and Kriska, a carrier, was used as a case study.

Dubbed the “Safe Haven” project, Kriska had an hours-of-service issue delivering to Unilever. Based in Canada, a driver would run out of hours about 30 minutes outside Unilever’s Pennsylvania facility. The next day began with a 30-minute drive to the facility plus loading time, creating further issues with HOS on the way back.

When asked by Unilever what it can do for Kriska, the carrier had one answer: parking. Unilever created two parking spaces for Kriska at the facility. Both companies walked away pleased with the results. Since then, Unilever has created six parking spaces at the location and expanded the program to other locations.

It may not seem like a lot of parking spaces, but it’s a good start, Grenerth pointed out. When shippers and receivers offer parking for drivers, they open up spaces at rest areas and truck stops that they are not using, a kind of “trickle-down economics” for truck parking.

“That cooperative model is the big thing we kept coming back to as a real-world solution,” Grenerth said.

According to Grenerth, a key component is finding alternative ways to incentivize truck parking by private companies and individuals. One funding idea is to give tax credits for property owners who decide to clear out space for truck parking.

“The government doing anything is going to move slower than a glacier,” Grenerth said. “It involves money, multiple jurisdictions.”

Economic problems derived from a lack of truck parking were also discussed, including cargo theft. FreightWatch reports there were 754 cargo thefts in 2015 at an average value of $184,101 per theft. CargoNet reports businesses lose $35 billion a year as a result of cargo theft.

Each of the regional meetings focuses on five topic areas:

  1. Parking capacity expansion
  2. Funding/finance (regulatory/policy)
  3. Technology/data
  4. Coordination with regional and local governments
  5. Creative models, approaches and solutions

Two more meetings are scheduled and drivers are encouraged to attend and participate in productive discussions with other industry stakeholders:

  • Aug. 25, 8 a.m. to noon: Southern Region meeting at Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.
  • Oct. 5, 8 a.m. to noon: Midwest Region meeting at OOIDA headquarters in Grain Valley, Mo.

After the four regional meetings are completed, FHWA compiles all the information gleaned into a final report. The first meeting was held on June 8 in Salt Lake City.

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