NATSO on July 12 participated in the third regional truck parking stakeholder meeting held by the Department of Transportation to address issues of capacity expansion, funding and finance, technology and data, as well as government coordination.
During a series of roundtable discussions, NATSO staff highlighted that truckstops and travel plazas are a critical part of America’s transportation network, providing hundreds of thousands of parking spaces for long-haul truck drivers to rest.
NATSO staff told the other stakeholders at the meeting that any new policy proposal should recognize the business environment within which travel plazas operate; given that privately run truckstops are the primary providers of truck parking in the United States, any proposal that makes the business environment more difficult for NATSO members will be counter-productive.
Staff also explained that NATSO members are often the largest property taxpayers in an area and help to support local government budgets for schools, police and fire protection. Proposals to commercialize rest areas would threaten this tax base and could reduce available truck parking spaces.
DOT officials said they are seeking innovative ideas for truck parking that work within the confines of the existing federal prohibition against commercial rest areas.
During the meeting, NATSO Vice President of Public Affairs Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman told attendees about the NATSO Foundation’s plans to release Park My Truck, a mobile app to assist professional drivers looking for a place to park.
DOT kicked off a national dialogue between the government and industry stakeholders on truck parking in late 2015 after releasing a federally mandated survey of truck parking volume and capacity in the United States.
DOT was directed under the 2012 highway bill titled MAP-21 to conduct a study of truck parking and develop a system of metrics to evaluate truck parking.
In “Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey Results and Comparative Analysis,” the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reported that more than 75 percent of truck drivers and almost 66 percent of logistics personnel reported regularly experiencing problems with finding safe parking locations when rest was needed. The survey said that 90 percent reported struggling to find safe and available parking during night hours.
The 180-page survey and analysis collected responses from state departments of transportation, more than 7,000 independent truck drivers and nearly 400 truckstops.
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