Safe and secure parking lots are the need of the hour

Safe and secure parking lots are the need of the hour (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Safe and secure truck parking is an issue that crops up frequently within trucking discourse. The lack of good spots for truckers to rest at the end of their hours of service (HOS) is not only troubling from a safety perspective but also flags long-term complications like sleep deprivation and distracted driving. 

When paper logs were the norm, truckers could afford to drive a few minutes over their allotted hours to find good parking spots to rest. But the enforcement of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate in late 2017 has all but eroded the little leverage truckers had with paper logs, forcing them to stay compliant to their HOS or be penalized. 

“Since you have no room for reworking your HOS, truckers are essentially made to find a parking space within their driving hours, greatly increasing driver stress,” said Cory Bailey, co-founder and president of SecurSpace, a startup that provides safe truck parking options for truckers. “A lot of times drivers arrive at a location only to find that there aren’t any available spots.”

Studies point out that drivers who are stuck without a proper place to park as their HOS deadlines hit go through high levels of stress. Vexed drivers end up parking in unsafe places like empty lots and on the side of highways. 

“You could drive along any interstate after 8 p.m. and you will find trucks parked along the side of the road, near a rest area where they planned to stop but had no space or on an entrance or exit ramp of a highway,” said Bailey. “This not only endangers the drivers but endangers the general public and other drivers on the road as well. I think this goes beyond the safety issue; the stress on drivers is also a drag on productivity.”

Bailey contended that drivers who are paid by the mile would look to maximize their income by staying on the road as long as possible. Truckers will drive until the last minute on their ELD clocks and stop when their time is up — even if it means they need to pull over by the side of a road. 

“Though the infrastructure on the road does not allow for truck parking, this is the ideal scenario to maximize productivity. Alternatively, let’s say a driver takes half an hour to an hour on average to find a parking spot at the end of his shift. If he adds up all those lost hours, it will amount to a loss of about $5,000 a year in income,” said Bailey. “If we put the safety issue, the associated stress and the loss in productivity together, we have a pretty significant problem on our hands.”

For truckers determined to stop at secure parking lots are faced with visibility issues. Although applications that provide drivers with information on available parking exist, they leave a lot left desired. 

“What we truly lack is the supply of parking options. Providing better information on what is currently in existence is helpful, but only to an extent, after which we actually need more locations to be able to park,” said Bailey. 

Bailey pointed out that technology could help at this juncture. The idea, he said, was to look at signing up and listing locations on a digital platform that works on an Airbnb-sque model — drivers can reserve truck stops well in advance and plan their routes and ELD clocks to perfection. 

In that stretch, the country is littered with logistics yard spaces and zoned industrial capacities that are both secure and vacant part of the day. Bailey explained that if the property owners saw an incentive in renting out spaces for truck stops, it could help solve the truck parking problem by bringing in substantial supply. 

Connecting such spaces and forming a network of parking spaces that are readily accessible via a mobile app will allow drivers to book spaces on the go, improving productivity and reducing stress associated with parking, Bailey said. 

“Ultimately, this is about safety and providing drivers more opportunities to park and reserve spaces ahead of time. At the fundamental level, technology can be used to automate the transactional process and also give visibility to drivers on how good a yard is and the facilities that it provides,” said Bailey.