NATSO on Oct. 10 urged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to evaluate and consider any effect that proposed changes to the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations would have on professional truck drivers’ ability to find safe and legal parking when they need it.
NATSO filed the comments in response to FMCSA’s August notice regarding revisions to four specific areas of the federal rule that governs truck drivers' sleep and rest. FMCSA sought public input after the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate went into effect and “brought focus to HOS regulations, especially with regard to certain regulations having a significant impact on agriculture and other sectors of trucking."
In its comments, NATSO urged FMCSA not to silo its consideration of truck parking issues or neglect to consider the effects that rules and regulations may have on truck drivers’ ability to find safe and legal parking.
The travel center industry has spent considerable resources in recent years working with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and dozens of state and local governments to help address concerns surrounding truck parking availability, including participating in the National Coalition on Truck Parking. One of the primary shortcomings to the Department’s efforts, however, is that it views the truck parking issue in a vacuum rather than integrating the issue into other policy discussions and deliberations.
“The private sector is well suited to efficiently provide safe and lawful places for trucks to park. When the Department begins to regulate when drivers are required to stop, however, it can unnecessarily limit the effectiveness of existing capacity,” NATSO Vice President of Public Affairs Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman wrote. “Because any changes to the HOS regime will inevitably implicate when drivers will need to find a place to park, NATSO urges DOT to conduct a thorough evaluation to understand how potential regulatory changes will affect truck parking utilization.”
As an example, NATSO said that although the ELD mandate has not increased demand for truck parking per se, since the mandate went into effect many truckstop parking lots have begun to fill and empty at roughly the same times each day, with parking lots generally starting to fill by late afternoon and opening back up in early morning. This scenario leads to a significant under-utilization of truck parking capacity, where during much of the daytime hours lots are virtually empty and then become full for much of the nighttime.
It is unclear whether DOT anticipated or even considered these truck parking issues before implementing the ELD mandate. It is also unclear whether the DOT officials that are managing the Department’s truck parking coalition were consulted about the ELD mandate’s potential impact on truck parking capacity.
To read NATSO’s full comments, click here.
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