OOIDA urges to officials in each state to renew focus on truck parking

By Tyson Fisher, staff writer

Taking the initiative to address the truck parking issues state-by-state, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association recently sent letters to all 50 governors to raise awareness of a critical situation.

OOIDA Director of State Legislative Affairs Mike Matousek said the letters detail the headache truckers experience as a result of a lack of parking availability. Truckers are forced to park or operate illegally in order to execute menial tasks such as using the phone, going to the restroom or looking at a map, the letter explains.

Matousek also provided governors with examples of states and cities that are doing their part in combating the truck parking issue. Matousek said OOIDA’s letters pointed out examples of solutions, such as the Missouri Department of Transportation more than doubling the number of truck parking spots by converting decommissioned weigh stations and rest areas to truck-only parking. The city of Elmira, N.Y., (read more about that on page 42) was also mentioned for its efforts in aiding the trucking industry.

“We emphasized to the governors that closing rest areas for temporary budget solutions causes more problems than it solves, including increasing the risk to public safety.”

Matousek said the purpose of the letters was to keep the dilemma before state leadership, asking governors for their help, and to offer OOIDA as a resource and partner in efforts to solve the shortage of commercial truck parking.

“To the extent possible,” he said, “our goal is to ensure truck parking is considered in long-term planning efforts, prevent the closure of existing truck parking spots, and explore the feasibility of any potential opportunity for the state to add additional truck parking spots.”

Truck parking has been a pandemic that eventually caught the eye of the federal government in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, which was signed into law in July 2012. In a provision titled “Jason’s Law,” the federal government called for a long-term strategy that will help alleviate the parking problem, including a mandated truck parking survey.

Jason’s Law truck parking survey results, released last August, revealed that most states reported a truck parking shortage. A total of 37 states indicated they had a problem with commercial vehicle parking. When revealing the survey results, the U.S. Department of Transportation also announced the formation of the National Coalition on Truck Parking, which consists of various industry stakeholders, including OOIDA.

Since then, not much progress has been made. Cities like North Bend, Wash., have eliminated future development of truck parking spaces, citing a lack of assistance from the state and federal government.

OOIDA recently established a parking committee, dedicating even more time, energy and resources to the issue than the Association has in the past.

“Truck parking has always been a priority of OOIDA and always will be,” Matousek said. “Right now we simply have a renewed focus on it. We’re looking for new opportunities to work with state DOTs and industry stakeholders to find meaningful and realistic solutions.” LL