Top Trucking Concerns, Part 3: Parking Scarcity and HOS
Matters of concern to truckers are intimately intertwined. In a December 2020 poll conducted by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), when asked which issues should be of most concern to the U.S. transportation secretary, 18 percent of respondents said there were “too many to pick just one.”
In this final segment of our series on top trucking concerns, we consider the highest ranked issue on the poll – parking – and how it is tied to HOS requirements.
Parking was chosen by some 23 percent of TCA poll respondents. James Lee, vice president of legal affairs for Choptank Transport, Inc. in Preston, MD, considers the parking problem “very acute” and says drivers have lost hours of service just looking for a place to park for a break or attempting to make deliveries.
“Consumer demand for shipping needs is only going to continue to grow at an exponential rate,” points out Shane Ryan, carrier sales manager at Sunrise Logistics. “To match the increase of drivers on the road, there will need to be more truck stops,” he says. “The current state of parking and rest stops for drivers is already limited—this may become a bigger problem soon if the building of new rest stops does not increase.”
Jack Sawyer, president of Des Moines Transportation, Inc. in Des Moines, IA, notes, “Parking is a problem compounded by some municipalities forbidding truck parking. Add that customers are not allowing trucks to wait at their facilities, and then some truck stops fence off parking for large trucking companies that rent part of their lot.”
According to Aaron Terrazas, director of economic research for Convoy, Inc., one trend that has mitigated parking problems has been “a shift toward drop and hook. It used to be that truckers would always pull the same trailer. With drop and hook, the trailer belongs to the facility. When parking overnight, they’re just parking the cab, rather than the cab and trailer.”
The parking problem is tied into HOS requirements, which are set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
According to the website of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers of property-carrying vehicles (as opposed to passenger-carrying vehicles) “may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.”
In addition, “drivers must take a 30-minute break when they have driven for a period of 8 cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute interruption.”
Although no one wants to be sharing the road with a trucker who has driven for eighteen hours straight, Terrazas says many truckers “would like more flexibility.”
Sawyer agrees, noting most truckers “wish the HOS rules would allow more flexibility in breaking up the hours. We’re not saying to increase the number of hours to drive, just allow more breaks without eating into your total hours.”
Eric Arling, executive director of operations for Cincinnati, OH-based Integrity Express Logistics, LLC says, “We usually see the complaints be more localized in terms of being held up at shippers or receivers, pickups being added post-dispatch, and other smaller changes that ultimately impact the amount of time a driver has on the road each week.”