ATRI publishes new truck parking study using driver diaries.

Managing Critical Truck Parking Case Study – Real World Insights from Truck Parking Diaries PDF

American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI)

ATRI’s 2015 RAC – directed truck parking research was conducted through a series of discrete tasks, the results of each being documented in separate reports. This report details the findings of the “Truck Parking Diaries,” which collected and analyzed qualitative data on the daily issues truck drivers face related to truck parking.

Quotes copied from the study:

“I will not pay for parking if I can avoid it.  I will never reserve a spot.” LTL Driver from Ontario

“unauthorized/undesignated parking is used here as a proxy for inadequate parking.”

“While most shoulder crashes are caused by driver inattention, there is still a safety imperative to prevent these crashes from occurring by parking in a safe location.”

“When drivers are not able to find available parking but need to rest, they may be forced to park on roadway shoulders or entrance/exit ramps, which is illegal in most locations and can create a safety hazard for the drivers and other motorists.”

“Most drivers parked in an unauthorized/undesignated location three to four times per week (36.5%), followed by once or twice per week (25.7%). A small percentage of drivers (9.5%) in the sample rely heavily on shoulder and ramp parking to meet their parking needs – equating to parking in an unauthorized/undesignated at least once per day.”

“The parking diaries also gathered information on productivity losses related to parking issues. Other truck parking research has suggested that drivers devote a significant amount of time each day to finding available parking.”

Another industry parking study that excludes parking victims and their costs and losses while giving woe to industry productivity losses and lost profits. It fails to initiate blame whatsoever to truck drivers, shippers and receivers, trucking companies, industry associations and representatives, truck driver schools and other training associations, or to government inaction other than demanding the public pay for more free parking for their for profit industry. Blame is readily attributed to car driver victims for inattention and they half-heartedly admit they should still prevent these crashes even though they have prejudged victims as unworthy. Truck drivers are FORCED to park illegally and in the most dangerous for car drivers locations, again half-heartedly admitting the safety hazard. Illegal and unsafe parking or as they call it “unauthorized parking” is used as a proxy for inadequate parking once again allocating minimal blame or fault.

“Policies preventing drivers from parking on shipper/receiver properties outside of appointment times aggravate existing parking issues.”

“I agree that it is an industry problem as large shippers drive truck volumes, but prohibit parking at their distribution centers, causing major HOS issues.” Truckload Driver from Ohio

“ELD leaves no room for dealing with full truck stops making it nearly impossible to preplan.”  Flatbed Driver from Alabama

“Near metro areas, truck stops fill up fast. If you are able to park you will surely get blocked in by drivers creating their own parking space in a non-parking area. Parking early and choosing a parking place where you won’t get blocked is the only advantage you have. Sacrificing drive time is a must to find a safe and legal place to park, or you may be forced to violate HOS rules. Compromising my safety, safety of assigned equipment, and public safety is not an option for me.” Truckload Driver from Pennsylvania

Most arguments waste time with HOS or Hours of Service issues and lost productivity while ignoring the most easily remedied issues such as most drivers refuse to pay for parking and refuse to pre-plan their trips to incorporate HOS issues, full lots, hours issues with receivers and lack of on-site parking spaces, and no planning for emergency parking locations. In most industries safety training, victims stories are used as examples to promote adherence to safe practices and to  increase concern for impacted populations. There is no victim-centric concern in trucking industry safety and there is far more concern for truck driver comfort, cost saving, and crime prevention and protection of cargo. Trucking is an for-profit industry and safety costs are often just placed on the victims families while the industry would never share any of the profits. Parking is a cost of doing business, it will be passed along to the public but initially must be paid by the for-profit business. Shippers and receivers should be regulated by local ordinance to provide parking adequate to operate their businesses. Long haul companies should purchase parking lots in their regular delivery areas. Companies should require and pay for using legal parking. Truck drivers must be willing to pay for parking as a business expense.

While we encourage increased funding for rest areas and more public spaces used for truck parking including low-speed streets outside urban centers allocated for legal truck parking we do not place responsibility for safety costs on public governments. We do demand that ultimate responsibility rests with safety trainers and truck drivers and safety regulators. We demand high-speed crash testing for underride guards as deaths occur at highway speeds and declare low-speed testing as a safety fraud on the motoring public. We demand car companies and truck and trailer manufacturers only build energy absorbing underride guards as stiff guards are ineffective in saving lives in high-speed real world crashes. We demand every truck driver be trained to understand rear underride guards are designed to kill at speeds much above 25 mph or 40 kph. Safety groups that claim to represent victims and not truck drivers must quit promoting law enforcement to not enforce parking safety laws to prevent fatigue as this only creates more parking victims. Safety training groups like NSC (National Safety Council) and truck driver training schools must promote victim focused safety training to include parking safety pre-trip planning. Include hours and availability of safe parking in your pre-trip plan. Locate rest areas and low-speed roadways for emergency parking such as lot full conditions. Discuss parking availability and area parking with the receiver. Train to always use hazard flashers and warning devices such as safety triangles. Teach about Moth-to-Flame phenomenon where trucks or cars parked on shoulders red reflectors tend to cause motorists to follow the lights as they perceive the truck to be traveling in a traveled lane. Teach about the history of the crash lane and “Trucks are Targets on Shoulders” safety campaigns. Explain that road film on reflective tape can decrease visibility by 90% and that red reflectors on trucks are dim and can disappear in a sea of red tail lights termed “Red Dot Confusion” which also contributes to speed and lane errors. Train about danger perception lag time and the vast distance cars require to stop. Train to clean tape prior to every trip as part of pre-trip inspection.

Final responsibility rests with the truck driver, car drivers will make mistakes but fatal crashes can almost completely be avoided with safe parking. Learn about and care about victims, they may be your own friends and family. Never park on high-speed roads or freeway on ramps or exits and always place safety devices and you will not be involved in a fatal crash or at least make such a crash statistically very rare. Swear that crashes like the like the crash that killed the Asam family will never happen again!

Asam Family Remembered

If you are involved in a crash first call for help! Then lend assistance. Crow bar and fire extinguisher will probably be needed. If a fire is about to kill the cars  passengers, taking emergency only measures might be necessary, such as pulling the truck forward to pull the car away from any spilled fuel and this might save lives, desperate measures should be your last resort! You will probably be the very first responder, lend aid as you can!