6 Parking Hacks Truck Drivers Should be Familiar With

Strong Tie Insurance February 25, 2021 Our Blog

As anyone in the industry knows, being a truck driver is a stressful and sometimes dangerous career. Late-night driving in bad weather or poorly lit roads is difficult for the best car drivers. Add 80,000 pounds and a truck and trailer that take the length of a football field to stop, and you can see how safety is an issue, and good commercial insurance is a must.

The Parking Problem for Truckers

In order to prevent accidents caused by fatigued drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) set regulations that limited the driving hours. These fairly stringent laws limit truckers driving time and set rules for break periods. Rules for mandatory insurance for commercial trucks also change on an ongoing basis.

In 2020, a new law passed that gave some flexibility, but with COVID-19 closing down rest stops, that flexibility does little to help truckers find a place to pull over when their time is up. Additionally, busy trucking routes often have the least amount of parking.

This leaves truck drivers in big trucks parked on the shoulder of the road, exit ramps, vacant lots, or in the nearest Walmart parking lot. This affects a driver’s safety and sleep habits, and a vicious cycle ensues. Finding the right way to move around these laws while maintaining them and their own safety is difficult, at best.

What is Jason’s Law?

Jason’s Law went into effect three years after truck driver, Jason Rivenburg, delivered a load in Virginia and headed to his next delivery, a Food Lion supermarket in South Carolina. He arrived early and was not allowed to park on the premises.

As there was no place left to park, he pulled into an abandoned gas station. That night, he was shot and killed in his sleep. Thirteen days later, his wife delivered twins.

That senseless and tragic killing was a result of inadequate parking for truck drivers. The National Coalition on Truck Parking released the latest Jason’s Law Commercial Motor Vehicle Parking Survey in December 2020.

The survey revealed that 98% of drivers have problems finding safe parking. These shortages occur in every state, particularly along major freight corridors such as the Chicago region, along I-95, and I-5 in California. The time period associated with the greatest parking shortages is 4 pm to 5 am, Monday through Thursday, from October through February.

It’s clear that something needs to be done to help, and yet the years go by with little change or development of new public facilities for haulers. Truck stops, unfortunately, do not seem to be the answer, with facilities operating at over 100% capacity and close to 80% not planning to add any more truck parking.

As always, truck drivers are banding together to help each other. Let’s take a look at the six parking tips truck drivers are using to find spots and to pull over safely.

Tip #1 – Plan Your Route

Before each trip, make sure to know where you intend to stop as well as good alternatives within a 70-mile radius. Delays and setbacks occur, whether due to snow and ice or other winter weather, bad road conditions, or full parking areas.

Tip #2 – Reserve Parking

Some major chains offer parking reservations. Travel Centers of America (TA) provides an online reservation service and their Reserve-It! Parking Program through the TruckSmart app. Pilot Flying J’s Prime Parking program uses their myPilot app.

Truck Parking Reservations is a nationwide company made up of logistics and trucking industry experts that recognized the true crisis inherent in the lack of safe public spaces in the truck driving industry. The company uses a mobile app for reservations.

TruckPark enables a driver to use their app to make a reservation within a 12-hour time frame. It has 80 locations, most in the major metropolitan hubs that typically get overcrowded with trucks. The app can see the closest secure parking locations near a pickup or delivery address.

Truck Spot offers the same parking technology with the ability to sublease the spot when out of town and has nine locations in Florida.

Reserve parking has its setbacks. Some platforms can cost over $16. If a truck driver is delayed and runs out of drivable hours before they can get to the lot, the money is often nonrefundable and the parking spot that another driver could use remains empty. Some may drive at a high speed in order to make their reservation work.

Tip #3 – Apps That Help Locate Empty Spaces

There are also apps that let vehicles know what spaces are open in their immediate area. These are first-come, first-serve types of spaces that do not accept reservations.

Park My Truck was created by the Truck Parking Leadership Initiative. This app allows any provider to report parking availability. It’s free for both providers and app users.

Trucker Path is an app used by millions. The app helps find the closest truck stop, available parking, weigh station information, fuel pricing, and optimized routing.

DAT One helps find things like vehicle stops, parking, loads, rest stops, scales, field prices, load tracking, and visibility.

Allstays Truck and Travel App includes over 35,000 data points including details for the major players as well as thousands of independents, resources for highway and road driving conditions, size of spaces available, and chain motels that advertise truck parking.

Apps are always expanding. Many show better alternative road routes, car accidents that are blocking travel, places to pull over when you need to get brakes checked or take a quick nap, and high use areas that you’ll want to avoid.

Keep up-to-date on insurance for commercial trucks, as well, and the increasing regulations in this segment of the industry.

Tip #4 – State Truck Parking Information and Management Systems (TPIMS)

TPIMS is emerging as a way to inform a trucker about parking availability through Smartphone notifications. States are also disseminating this information through the use of signs with truck parking availability at rest areas and exits, maps, and truck parking websites.

Tip #5 – Keep Updated on Weather Conditions

As one would imagine, adverse winter weather driving conditions like snow and ice have a significant impact on parking, particularly for a tractor-trailer big rig. Check weather notifications where you’re going, even if adverse driving conditions appear to be a long way out. If it looks bad, notify dispatch. You may need to be rerouted.

Tip #6 – Call Dispatch

If you work with a fleet, always call the destination dispatcher. They may have one or two suggestions for where you’re going and local places you may want to stop. Behind the scenes and back-office teams receive tips that moving carriers need to know.

The team should be reviewing routes with an emphasis on parking, and know the best alternatives to keep their fleet safe.

At Strong Tie Insurance, we provide comprehensive, low-cost plans designed to keep you and your business safe. Call us for a no-obligation quote on commercial insurance.