Texas DOT presented preliminary findings from the Texas truck parking study and received input from truckers during a moderated panel discussion at the Great American Trucking Show (GATS).
Truck staging and overnight truck parking are both important for drivers.
In leading the discussion between truckers, the panel, and Texas Department of Transportation officials, my key role was to listen to both sides and find common ground. Perhaps the best example of this regarded the difference between overnight parking needs (to meet the mandatory rest period) and the need for a staging area to provide short-term parking. In many cases, truckers cannot find temporary parking near their destination. This frequently leads to a driver leaving their nighttime parking space at rush hour and heading onto already congested roadways in order to show up at their destination when it opens. If a staging area were available (within an industrial park, or to service a community) closer to the destination, the trucker could head to that area earlier in the morning before the peak of traffic and park temporarily, leaving a short trip to the final destination. When presented with this option, panel member and owner-operator Ingrid Brown replied in a manner that mirrored others: “Staging lots — I’m all for that.”
Private truckstop operators and state DOTs have all faced “not in my backyard” opposition to truck parking projects, in some cases even when prior truck parking facilities have been in operation without problems for many years. Constructing a truck staging area instead could help provide some relief for neighborhood concerns such as truck traffic and noise throughout the night. The staging lot could offer a haven for parking prior to rush hour, keeping trucks off the road at the busiest times. It could remain available throughout the day and evening rush hour, alleviating the evening commute traffic as well. This could accommodate arrivals before and after peak traffic twice a day while still being quiet through the overnight hours, increasing the likelihood of community acceptance. A system such as RigRest.com could easily provide management of access to such a facility during operating hours by offering hourly reservations.
Truck parking lot size considered.
TX DOT is in the midst of the Texas truck parking study where they consider how to best provide truck parking where it is needed. There will, of course, be budget limitations as they move forward. Feedback from the audience suggested a desire for more, smaller parking areas with basic facilities as compared to fewer large parking areas with more facilities on site. The primary thought is that truckers can run out of hours anywhere due to forces beyond their control, delaying or altering their plans.
In this for the long haul.
TX DOT has plenty of work to do yet and they have made it clear they will seek additional input prior to launching any projects. I will share any updates and encourage you to keep your ears open for additional ways to provide crucial input. This is a Texas-sized problem and driver input can steer it towards the best solutions.
Overdrive Magazine Senior Editor Todd Dills played a key role in organizing and facilitating the discussion and Senior Editor James Jaillet provided coverage of the event in this article: https://www.overdriveonline.com/people-dont-understand-we-have-nowhere-to-go-gats-panel-presses-for-parking-solutions/
To hear audio from the discussion, listen to this podcast from Overdrive Radio, available here:
Scott Grenerth is part of the TSPS team and while he primarily drives a desk today (but does occasionally utilize his CDL) he has over a million accident-free miles behind the wheel of over-the-road trucking experience.