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Publication Number: FHWA-RD-01-160
Date: March 2002

Commercial Vehicle Driver Survey: Assessment of Parking Needs and Preferences

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1.0. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

In research conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and reported in Commercial Driver Rest & Parking Requirements: Making Space for Safety (Publication No. FHWA-MC-96-0010 hereafter referred to as the "1996 Study"), considerable gains were made in understanding how truck drivers use public rest areas and privately owned truck stops.(1) The research methodology concentrated on analyzing data at public rest areas and privately owned truck stops through:

  • An inventory of parking capacity and restrictions in the 48 contiguous States.
  • Direct observation of the actual use of truck parking at facilities along a medium‑density trucking corridor.
  • A series of interviews and surveys that consulted 500 truck drivers, 330 motor carriers, and 170 truck stop operators.

Subsequent research in this area has been mandated by Congress (Section 4027 of Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century) to determine the location and quantity of parking spaces at public rest areas and private truck stops along the National Highway System. The congressional mandate specifies that current and projected truck parking shortages be assessed. To accurately assess shortages, it is necessary to go beyond a simple count of parking spaces available across the Country. Shortages must be estimated by measuring the parking supply in light of regional, driver-preference, and other influencing factors.

In response to the congressional mandate, the current study built on the 1996 Study by:

  • Extending the assessment from the Interstate Highway System to the National Highway System.
  • Seeking a more comprehensive and representative understanding of driver-related factors that affect truck parking demand.

The current study included a truck parking supply assessment, truck parking demand model development, and truck driver needs and preferences survey.

Prior to conducting the current study, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a Request for Information (Solicitation Number RFI-ST-001) to obtain feedback on how best to design, focus, and conduct the Section 4027 study. Five individuals or organizations provided responses. In addition, the FHWA hosted a Rest Area Forum (June 1999).(2) Forum participants included more than 70 State departments of transportation and enforcement officials, representatives of the motor carrier industry, private truck stop operators, commercial drivers, safety advocates, and other interested parties. Input gathered through the RFI and the Rest Area Forum reflected a consensus that a clear understanding of truck drivers' parking-related needs, preferences, and decision making is necessary to accurately assess truck parking supply and demand.

To measure truck driver parking needs and preferences, the current study employed a nationwide survey of truck drivers. The survey sought to determine:

  • How truck drivers plan for and address their parking needs.
  • How truck drivers select when, where, and at which facilities they park.
  • What truck drivers think of the adequacy of current parking facilities.

This report summarizes the background, methodology, and outcome of the driver survey task.

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