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Publication Number: FHWA-RD-01-158
Date: March 2002

Study of Adequacy of Commercial Truck Parking Facilities

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5.0 ACTIVITIES TO REDUCE SHORTAGES

5.1 Introduction

This section of the report presents a compilation of recommended actions for addressing commercial truck parking shortages. The first set of recommendations was obtained through discussions with various stakeholder groups. These are groups that, in general, represent the national stakeholder constituencies, such as the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) [enforcement] and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) [safety community]. These stakeholders help provide a high-level, national view on the issue and possible solutions.

The second set of recommendations was provided by the participating State partnerships. The recommendations, while often mirroring the national-level recommendations, also focus on State- and corridor-specific solutions – that is, the “grass roots” level.

5.2 Rest Area Forum

On June 29-30, 1999, FHWA hosted a two-day Rest Area Forum in Atlanta, GA. More than 70 representatives from State DOTs and enforcement agencies, the motor carrier industry, commercial drivers, commercial truck stop operators, safety advocates, and other interested stakeholders participated in the Forum, which was intended to achieve the following objectives:

  • Review issues surrounding the provision of parking for commercial drivers by both States and commercial truck stop operators.
  • Describe and document success stories and best practices.
  • Consider means to provide real-time information on the availability of truck parking spaces and information on driver fatigue.
  • Identify actions and initiatives, including legislative actions and funding initiatives, that could be undertaken to address parking shortages.

A number of issues were identified by the participants, and recommendations were developed for the seven highest-ranked issues, which are presented below, but not in any ranked order.

  • Improve safety and security at public rest areas and commercial truck stops and travel plazas.
  • Provide low-interest loans, tax incentives, and public-private partnerships to support commercial truck stops (i.e., meet parking space demand through the private sector).
  • Use alternative parking sites such as weigh stations and park-and-ride lots.
  • Improve the provision and location of public rest areas and commercial truck stops (e.g., spacing standards between parking areas).
  • Improve financial support for improving and expanding public rest areas, and make this a safety-related issue.
  • Eliminate time limits on parking at public rest areas. Alternately, enforce time limits to increase the availability of spaces at public rest areas.
  • Increase driver education and information on causes of fatigue and on the availability and location of available parking spaces.

These recommendations served as a resource for identifying a number of questions that were included in the survey.(2) It is interesting to note that the findings of the current study, which draws upon a significantly larger (and different) population than that included in the Rest Area Forum, are consistent with and support these recommendations. The Rest Area Forum report also noted that the recommendations developed were not necessarily consensus recommendations and that various stakeholders disagreed on approaches to addressing shortages of commercial vehicle parking spaces. The results of the current study support this lack of consensus, in particular on the issue of whether parking space shortages should be addressed by expanding public rest areas or relying on the private sector to meet demand.

5.3 National Stakeholder Discussions

During the course of the study, FHWA provided the study team with a detailed listing of stakeholder groups that comprise the “national stakeholder” interests. These groups represent the enforcement community, the motor carrier industry, commercial truck stop operators, shippers and receivers, and the safety community. The intent of discussing truck parking space availability issues with stakeholders was to obtain a balanced portrayal of how the issue of truck parking space availability affects the various interest groups.

Each group was contacted by telephone to discuss the proposed interview. Groups were then given a list of questions and issues and either provided written comments or agreed to telephone discussions.As can be seen, the groups share a common desire to solve the truck parking problem. As outlined in this list, a variety of positions were proposed, including expanding public parking, changing regulations and financing, and increasing the number of commercial truck stop and travel plaza spaces:

  • Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety. Expansion of commercial facilities represents the best solution to the truck parking problem.
  • America’s Road Team (ART). ART supports 1) increased State and Federal funding for public rest stop spaces and 2) encourages the use of existing facilities, such as weigh stations and park-and-ride lots, for parking, where possible.
  • American Trucking Association (ATA) Foundation. ATA believes that DOT should lead a concerted effort to fund the construction of additional truck parking using existing funding sources. DOT should also explore technology for improving the efficiency of existing resources. ATA does not advocate one method of eliminating the shortfall over another. Instead, ATA wants organizations and agencies to do everything possible to improve the availability of parking spaces at both public and commercial facilities for truck drivers.
  • Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). CVSA has been active on this issue for two years. CVSA believes that there is a shortage of parking spaces and that the next reauthorization should include a Federal mandate to use highway funds to construct rest stop facilities if a need is demonstrated and proven. CVSA believes the permissive language on this issue is not strong enough and that a formal mandate is needed. A Federalmandate and funding for building new or additional parking facilities would be the most effective means of addressing the problem. Additional short-term solutions include the following:
    • Change State policies that restrict the amount of time truckers may stay in public rest areas.
    • Use inspection and weigh station facilities during off-hours to provide additional parking.
    • Use satellite parking to provide additional parking spaces.
    • Communicate information on space availability and facility locations to drivers. [Maryland is currently doing this through variable message signs (VMSs), the Web, and brochures.]
  • Motor Freight Carriers Association (MFCA). MFCA stands behind the results of the ATA Foundation rest area/truck stop study, “Making Space for Safety,” as far as the truck parking shortage is concerned. They report, “while our segment of the industry does not use public rest areas or commercial truck stops and travel plazas for long-term parking, we do believe that more can be done to encourage public/private partnerships to help solve the parking shortage.”
  • NATSO, Inc., the Association representing America’s Travel Plazas and Truck Stops. NATSO believes that the commercial truck stop industry has in the past adequately met the needs of the professional driver and will do so in the future. NATSO believes professional trucking companies and drivers should bear the responsibility of finding safe, legal places to store their equipment. In that regard, NATSO recommends the following:
    • Increase yearly truck registration fees with the stipulation that these special funds can be used by States only on initiatives to address the truck parking issue.
    • Implement a program that allows States to close rest areas in locations that are well served by private-sector businesses and shift funds to areas in which additional development is desirable.
    • Remove cost-prohibitive road improvement requirements imposed by State DOTs upon developers attempting to open new facilities.
  • Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA). OOIDA feels this is a problem so important to the industry that meaningful solutions will be found only through cooperation among all the stakeholders. Actions that OOIDA believes would be beneficial include the following:
    • Build more and bigger public rest areas.
    • Provide designated “trucks only” public rest areas.
    • Increase the number of overall spaces.
    • Accommodate longer (e.g., 53-ft) trailers.
    • Stop closing existing public rest areas.
  • Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT). PATT believes that a Federal mandate and funding for building new or additional parking facilities would be the most effective means of addressing the problem. Additional solutions include the following:
    • Provide low-interest loans for developing truck parking facilities (absent direct funding or as a supplement).
    • Explore public-private partnerships for developing additional rest facilities. An example would be a “super lot” in which a vendor or contractor would develop a facility on a State-provided land. Another example would be to have highway contractors who are working in an area in which a truck rest stop is located be available to help build additional parking spaces at that rest stop.
    • Review individual State policies that restrict the amount of time truckers may stay in public rest areas.
  • Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA). PMAA feels that ensuring that drivers get adequate sleep is the responsibility of the companies that use their services and that the best way to address parking shortages is for the trucking industry to seek out alternative solutions. For example, setting schedules so that drivers do not necessarily arrive in congested areas during peak times would help reduce overcrowding in some locations. The trucking industry could develop consortia to locate available parking areas in which inadequate parking currently exists, and large carriers could seek out parking areas within reasonable distances of thruways and contract for parking at those facilities. Trucking companies could also work with their customers, shippers, and receivers to allow trucks to park at their facilities.

  • Four other stakeholders [American Automobile Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Industrial Transportation League (NITL), and National Private Truck Council (NPTC] were contacted but did not have an official position on the truck parking issue.

5.4 Actions Recommended by The State Partnerships

Partners provided a set of recommended actions to solve any parking shortfalls that have been identified either through this study or as a result of other similar studies conducted in recent years for their States. These actions fall into six broad categories, as listed below.

  • Actions to expand or improve public rest areas.
  • Actions to expand or improve commercial truck stops and travel plazas.
  • Actions to encourage the formation of public-private partnerships.
  • Actions to educate or inform drivers about available spaces.
  • Actions to change parking enforcement rules.
  • Actions to conduct additional studies.

Table 19 summarizes the actions that have either recently been completed or are currently being implemented in each State. Table 20 summarizes the actions by each State partnership for future implementation. The sections that follow describe in more detail some of the specific suggestions or comments associated with each of these six categories.

Table 19 . Summary of recent or current actions pursued by State partners.

State
Expand Public Facilities
Expand Commercial Facilities
Foster Partnerships
Improve Information
Enforcement Changes
Additional Studies
Alabama
           
Alaska
           
Arizona
check mark
check mark
       
Arkansas
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
   
California
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
   
Colorado
check mark
check mark
       
Connecticut
check mark
check mark
       
Delaware
           
Florida
check mark
check mark
       
Georgia
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
   
Idaho
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
   
Illinois
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
   
Indiana
   
check mark
check mark
   
Iowa
check mark
check mark
       
Kansas
           
Kentucky
check mark
         
Louisiana
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
   
Maine
         
check mark
Maryland
check mark
   
check mark
   
Massachusetts
         
check mark
Michigan
         
check mark
Minnesota
           
Mississippi
check mark
         
Missouri
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
   
Montana
check mark
 
check mark
     
Nebraska
check mark
         
Nevada
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
   
New Hampshire
           
New Jersey
         
check mark
New Mexico
check mark
         
New York
         
check mark
North Carolina
check mark
   
check mark
check mark
check mark
North Dakota
           
Ohio
check mark
check mark
   
check mark
 
Oklahoma
           
Oregon
check mark
   
check mark
   
Pennsylvania
check mark
   
check mark
   
Rhode Island
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
   
South Carolina
check mark
         
South Dakota
           
Tennessee
check mark
check mark
       
Texas
check mark
         
Utah
           
Vermont
check mark
         
Virginia
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
   
Washington
check mark
         
West Virginia
         
check mark
Wisconsin
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
Wyoming
check mark
   
check mark
check mark
 
Note: Checks denote States reporting recent or current actions.

Table 20. Summary of future actions recommended by State partners.

State
Expand Public Facilities
Expand Commercial Facilities
Foster Partnerships
Improve Information
Enforcement Changes
Additional Studies
Alabama
           
Alaska
           
Arizona
check mark
check mark
       
Arkansas
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
   
California
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
   
Colorado
check mark
check mark
       
Connecticut
check mark
         
Delaware
check mark
     
check mark
 
Florida
check mark
check mark
       
Georgia
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
   
Idaho
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
   
Illinois
check mark
check mark
       
Indiana
check mark
 
check mark
check mark
   
Iowa
check mark
         
Kansas
           
Kentucky
check mark
         
Louisiana
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
   
Maine
         
check mark
Maryland
check mark
   
check mark
   
Massachusetts
check mark
         
Michigan
           
Minnesota
           
Mississippi
check mark
         
Missouri
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
   
Montana
check mark
         
Nebraska
check mark
         
Nevada
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
   
New Hampshire
           
New Jersey
         
check mark
New Mexico
check mark
         
New York
         
check mark
North Carolina
check mark
   
check mark
check mark
 
North Dakota
check mark
         
Ohio
check mark
check mark
       
Oklahoma
           
Oregon
check mark
   
check mark
   
Pennsylvania
check mark
   
check mark
   
Rhode Island
check mark
   
check mark
   
South Carolina
check mark
         
South Dakota
check mark
         
Tennessee
check mark
check mark
       
Texas
check mark
         
Utah
           
Vermont
check mark
         
Virginia
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
   
Washington
check mark
         
West Virginia
         
check mark
Wisconsin
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
 
check mark
Wyoming
check mark
   
check mark
check mark
 
Note: Checks denote States planning or considering future actions.

 

5.4.1 Actions to Expand or Improve Rest Areas

Thirty-two States indicated that they were currently taking or had recently taken actions to expand or improve the public rest area facilities as a strategy to increase the availability of adequate parking for trucks, and five additional States indicated an intention to do so in the future. The recommendations on how to expand public facilities included the following:

  • Construct new public rest area facilities with additional truck parking spaces. Consider developing truck-only parking facilities. Raise the priority of public rest area construction by making it a safety-related issue.
  • Add new truck spaces to existing public rest areas as part of scheduled rest area reconstruction or rehabilitation. Redesign and reconfigure rest areas to increase parking and improve commercial vehicle circulation through the lot. Also, convert parallel parking to pull-through parking for added driver convenience.
  • Convert closed public rest areas into parking facilities, and consider designating these facilities for truck-only parking.
  • Investigate the use of Federal funds for maintaining public rest areas. Explore alternative financing of public rest area construction. Develop pilot projects for generating revenue to keep public rest areas open.
  • Partner with other State agencies, such as the Department of Tourism, to incorporate truck parking needs into the development of new tourist information sites.
  • Review and expand security at public rest areas by providing call boxes, cameras, increased law enforcement, etc.
  • Identify locations where commercial vehicle parking can be combined with ports of entry, weigh stations, or police substations. Consider exempting trucks from enforcement actions to encourage the use of these sites for parking by fatigued drivers.
  • Construct turnouts in rural sections of Interstate for parallel parking by commercial trucks.
  • Upgrade facilities currently closed during off-season to be open year round.
  • Improve geometric design at interchanges to increase convenience to drivers choosing to exit. For example, increase turning radii, widen narrow bridges, place traffic signals where warranted, and add turning lanes to ease access and egress to commercial truck stops and travel plazas.

5.4.2 Actions to Expand or Improve Commercial Truck Stops and Travel Plazas

Eighteen States indicated that they were currently taking or had recently taken actions to help expand or improve commercial truck stops and travel plazas, and 15 of these States expressed an interest in continuing to do so in the future [c] Six additional States (Delaware, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming) indicated that they intended to rely on the private sector to provide additional commercial truck parking along overcrowded corridors. Growth estimates provided by the NATSO Foundation indicated that the number of private spaces has increased by an average of 6.5 percent per year over the last several years. If this rate continues, much of the private demand can be accommodated by the anticipated growth in private spaces.

5.4.3 Actions to Encourage Formation of Public-Private Partnerships

Six States indicated that they were currently taking or had recently taken actions to encourage formation of public-private partnerships to increase the availability of adequate parking for trucks, and five of these States expressed an interest in continuing to do so in the future. The recommendations on how to encourage formation of public-private partnerships included the following:

  • Create working groups between public and private sectors to develop new parking and explore options to overcome barriers to cooperation.
  • Work with the private sector to redevelop or construct new public rest areas with direct access to the Interstate.
  • Provide low-interest loans or grants to commercial truck stops and travel plazas to increase capacity.
  • Construct State-owned lots adjacent to commercial truck stops and travel plazas and enter into agreements to lease or maintain the lots.
  • Work with owners of commercial truck stops to help them promote the availability of parking in large lots close to the Interstate highway (e.g., provide signage on the highway).

5.4.4 Actions to Educate or Inform Drivers about Available Spaces

Seventeen States indicated that they were currently taking or had recently taken actions to better educate or inform drivers about available parking spaces, and 16 of these States expressed an interest in continuing to do so in the future. States suggested that the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) infrastructure may provide real-time information on the availability of parking to drivers. In addition, States suggested that drivers be informed of the importance of complying with HOS rules to encourage fatigued drivers to pull off the road. Specific recommendations offered by the States included the following:

  • Educate drivers on the safety benefits of rest and encourage them to use available spaces. For example, provide safety information (e.g., through brochures and public service announcements) to both drivers and trucking companies about the relationship between driver fatigue and accidents to encourage fatigued drivers to get off the road.
  • Develop ITS deployments that provide drivers with real-time information on the location and availability of parking spaces. For example, investigate using cellular phones and radio frequencies to broadcast parking locations and availability to drivers.
  • Investigate using mailings related to credentials administration for the International Registration Plan (IRP) and the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) as a means of distributing information on the location and type of parking spaces within the base State to participating motor carriers.
  • Publish and distribute a “trucker’s map” that pinpoints parking facilities for drivers.
  • Initiate a program that informs drivers of State-approved parking facilities. Such facilities may have security, lighting, and other services that will encourage drivers to use existing spaces.
  • Use both static and real-time signage to provide drivers with information about availability and location of public and private parking spaces.

5.4.5 Actions to Change Parking Enforcement Rules

Five States indicated that they recently had implemented or may in the future implement changes in parking regulations and other development-related regulations related to commercial vehicle parking. Specific recommendations offered by the States included the following:

  • Implement more stringent enforcement of parking rules to remove vehicles from unsafe locations such as interchange ramps.
  • Change parking limits to permit trucks more time to park at public rest areas.
  • Encourage local government and business support for constructing and operating commercial truck stop facilities in or near their community industrial and business parks (i.e., zoning). The “Not in My Backyard” syndrome has made it difficult to gain this local support. This issue has become a major problem in the development of new commercial truck stops and public rest area facilities near the boundaries of larger cities.
  • Encourage better recognition or credit and tax incentives for companies and terminal operators who provide “truck staging area” facilities for pickup and delivery activities with 24-hour access, parking, sanitation, and security. This could be promoted at both the State and national levels.
  • Promote building requirements for future warehouse and delivery facilities to incorporate truck parking and staging facilities as part of their development/building permit process. Encourage public/private partnerships to fund or offset these increased costs. This could be promoted at both the State and local levels.

5.4.6 Actions to Conduct Additional Studies

Eight States indicated that they recently had conducted or may in the future conduct additional studies on the adequacy of parking for commercial vehicles to refine the results emerging from the Section 4027 study and to develop more detailed strategies targeted at specific locations.

One State will be pursing more detailed truck parking supply and demand studies at the State and regional levels on specific, heavily traveled truck corridors. The methodology used for the national study will be modified. Field interviews with truckers could be added to make the results of these studies more useful as planning tools for developing measures to address identified parking problems.

Another State suggested that a multi-State committee be established to evaluate alternatives and recommend solutions that would address “on-time deliveries.” Many States noted that truck parking demand at certain locations is a reflection of trucks “staging” to provide just-in-time delivery.

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