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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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This report provides detailed technical documentation supporting the Report to Congress on the study called for in Section 4027 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century to “determine the location and quantity of parking facilities as commercial truck stops and travel plazas and public rest areas that could be used by motor carriers to comply with Federal hours of service rules.” The report details the methodology and results of a survey administered to commercial truck drivers on their parking needs and preferences.

Janet A. Coleman

Director, Office of Safety Programs

Safety Core Business Unit

Michael F. Trentacoste

Director, Office of Safety

Research and Development


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The United States Government assumes no liability for its contents or use thereof. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The United States Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade and manufacturers’ names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the object of the document.

1. Report No.
2. Government Accession No.
3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle
5. Report Date
March 2002
6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)
Kathryn J. Chen, Kelley K. Pécheux, John Farbry, Jr., and Stephen A. Fleger
8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address
Science Applications International Corporation
8301 Greensboro Drive
McLean, VA 22102
10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)
11. Contract or Grant No.
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Safety Research and Development (HRDS)
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, Virginia 22101-2296
13. Type of Report and Period Covered
Final Report
October 1999 – April 2001
14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative: Raymond A. Krammes, HRDS; M. Joseph Moyer, HRDS
16. Abstract
This research assessed truck driver parking needs and preferences in accordance with Section 4027 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. A survey was conducted to determine how truck drivers plan for and address their parking needs; how truck drivers select when, where, and at which facilities they park; and what truck drivers think of the adequacy of current parking facilities. This report summarizes the background, methodology, and outcome of the driver survey.

Surveys were distributed to a national sample of more than 2,000 truck drivers through site visits and mailings to truck stops. The sample included male and female drivers; independent owner/operators; and drivers for small-, mid-, and large-sized carriers. The majority of respondents identified themselves as long-haul drivers. Nearly all drivers reported that they, not their company colleagues, decide where they will park. Most drivers make this decision as they are driving. When drivers park their trucks, most expect to satisfy only their basic needs. Drivers prefer parking facilities that provide food, fuel, restrooms, phones, and showers. They also consider safety and convenience important. Drivers generally prefer private truck stops to public rest areas. However, for quick naps drivers showed a preference for rest areas over truck stops. Many respondents indicated they have trouble finding available parking at rest areas and truck stops. In fact, drivers asserted that building more truck stop and rest area spaces would be the best way to improve the parking situation. Survey respondents indicated that the parking facilities they encounter generally have characteristics that make those facilities usable. But, drivers did recommend that time limits be eliminated and that parking lot layouts be improved to accommodate large trucks.

17. Key Word
Truck Parking, Commercial Motor Vehicles, Truck Driver Survey, Truck Parking Preferences, Parking Studies, Human Factors, Rest Area, Truck Stop, Parking Supply
18. Distribution Statement
No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.
19. Security Classif. (of this report)
20. Security Classif. (of this page)
21. No. of Pages
22. Price

SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors


Executive Summary



2.1. Survey Development

2.2. Survey Distribution and Collection

2.2.1. Site Visit Procedure

2.2.2. Site Visit Materials

2.2.3. Mail-Out Procedure

2.2.4. Mail-Out Materials

2.2.5. Data Coding and Entry



3.2.Parking Availability and Usability

3.2.1. Are There Enough Parking Spaces?

3.2.2. How Useable are the Parking Spaces?

3.3.Parking Patterns and Preferences

3.3.1. How Often Do Drivers Sleep at Home?

3.3.2. Where Do Drivers Park?

3.3.3. Who Decides Where Drivers Park and When is the Decision Made?

3.3.4. Why Do Drivers Park on Ramps and Shoulders?

3.3.5. What are Drivers’ Parking Preferences?

3.4.Parking Solutions

3.4.1. What Improvements Do Drivers Recommend?

3.4.2. How Might ITS Technology Help Drivers?





Figure 1. States included as distribution sites

Figure 2. Percent of respondents by truck volume corridor categories

Figure 3. Frequency with which drivers find available parking at truck stops and restareas

Figure 4. Locations chosen for long-term rest


Table 1. Frequency of encountering usability characteristics in truck parking

Table 2. Importance of features when parking (as rated by drivers)

Table 3. Drivers’ parking facility preferences by purpose of stop

Table 4. Parking-related improvements identified by driversas helping the most


United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration