Feds and trucking stakeholders knuckle down on parking dilemma

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 10/5/2016

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association hosted the fourth Truck Parking Coalition roundtable meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 5. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Scott Darling and dozens of stakeholders discussed possible solutions to the problems plaguing the issue of truck parking.

Organized by the Federal Highway Administration, core members of the coalition include OOIDA, ATA, Natso (the national association that represents truck stops), the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. The U.S. Department of Transportation formed the coalition of stakeholders to solve truck parking issues as part of Jason’s Law.

Darling, OOIDA Vice President Todd Spencer and government transportation officials gave opening remarks outlining the issues. Stakeholders in attendance were split into four groups and discussed four main topics:

  1. Parking capacity expansion
  2. Funding/finance (regulatory/policy)
  3. Technology/data
  4. Coordination with regional and local governments

Each group had representatives from a variety of groups, including truck stops, state and federal agencies, and OOIDA board members. Tom Phelan, managing director at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB), told Land Line the final session included more truck drivers than previous roundtables. VHB is the contractor administering the roundtables. OOIDA Board Member Johanne Couture said the roundtables have been a very positive and productive experience.

Among the discussions was notification of parking availability. Natso President Lisa Mullings represented the Truck Parking Leadership Initiative, composed of the Natso Foundation, Natso Inc., the ATA and the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). Mullings mentioned that the initiative has developed a smartphone app called Park My Truck, which can be downloaded for free from iTunes or Google Play. The app is not in its final stage as it is based on feedback from professional drivers and trucking companies, but it launched this week with plans for unprecedented participation.

Another special guest at the session was Hope Rivenburg, the widow of slain truck driver Jason Rivenburg. He was shot to death in the cab of his truck during a robbery in 2009. He was parked in a dark, unsecure area after being denied parking by a receiver. Since then, she has been a tireless activist for safe truck parking. Like several others at the meeting, she said the fact that various groups are now focusing on truck parking is a step forward.

Now that four roundtable sessions have been completed, FHWA will compile the results and issue a report, including recommendations based on the feedback. The report will eventually make its way to the Secretary of Transportation. Information gleaned from the roundtable discussions could guide lawmakers when making regulatory changes in the future.

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