MAP-21 fuels DOT FHA survey highlighting the need for safe truck parking

Parking has been a major issue for truckers for quite some time. The shortage of safe places for truck drivers to park overnight is a growing concern among the trucking community. Truckers are forced to be creative with regard to parking. Drivers have resorted to parking in abandoned gas stations, on freeway ramps and at industrial parking lots. This creates a less than favorable situation that results in wasted hours, tired drivers and, in some cases drivers being attacked or worse in their truck cabs at night.

The FHA’s truck parking survey results due out today are expected to identify locations across the country which are in need of safe truck parking spaces.

As part of Jason’s Law under MAP-21, the Federal Highway Administration conducted the survey to find out where safe truck parking was needed. Today, DOT Deputy Secretary, Victor Mendez will announce the results and the formation of a national coalition that will focus on truck parking shortages. Mendez will be joined by Hope Rivenburg, the widow of a slain trucker for whom the law is named, FHWA Gregory Nadeau and Acting Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Scott Darling.

History about Jason’s law:

In March 2009, truck driver Jason Rivenburg was fatally shot after parking in an unlit, abandoned gas station in St. Matthews, South Carolina. Since then, Jason’s wife Hope Rivenburg has worked tirelessly to pass Jason’s Law, including conducting her own independent survey. Jason’s Law would require lawmakers to ensure that truckers had access to more safe parking spaces.

In 2012, Jason’s Law was included in MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act). According to the highway funding bill, Jason’s law made the issue of truck parking shortages a “national priority” and required the DoT to conduct a survey within 18 months of the bill going into effect to determine which areas in the country are in most need of safe truck parking.

The OOIDA suggested that the survey include 400 drivers and that small facility owners also be included to get a more accurate picture of the parking and safety needs of the trucking community.

OOIDA members received a survey that included nearly 50 questions related to parking. Other trucking associations received similar surveys as part of FHWA’s effort to comply with the MAP-21 mandate. Under MAP-21 regulations, the Department of Transportation must release the results on its website and periodically update the survey. Before the recent actions of the administration, the last FHWA truck parking study was conducted in 2002.

Safety concerns continue.

More recently, in June of last year, truck driver Mike Boeglin was shot and his rig burned beyond recognition after parking overnight at an abandoned factory in Detroit, putting more pressure on legislators to address the growing parking shortage.

Despite a 2002 DOT study highlighting the critical shortage in parking, essential funding has been cut and state budget allocations have done little to correct the problem. In some states, like Louisiana, it has gotten worse with 23 of its 34 public rest areas closed in early 2008.

We can only hope that today’s survey results will spark legislators to move on correcting the problem before it gets worse. You may be asking yourself, “what else can we do?” Let your voice be heard. Contact your local legislators and stress to them the importance of providing safe parking for truckers.