Strong voices on parking

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Updated Nov 30, 2015
Rest area parking near Monteagle, tenn.

Dave Della Maggiore, who drives for Gooding, Idaho-based D&D Transportation, played a part in the Wall Street Journal’s recent coverage of the quite succinctly encapsulated “Too Many Trucks, Too Little Parking” issue out on the nation’s roads, a perennial concern for truckers finally getting the mainstream attention it deserves.

This truck-parking feature appeared on the front page of Section B of the Wed., Jan. 21 edition of the Wall Street Journal

A photo posted by Overdrive (@overdrivetrucking) on

That’s Dave above on the cover of the Journal’s Marketplace section — it was a story in which he played no small part, taking Journal photographers on a ride to some destinations in and around New York City that he described for listeners to Allen and Donna Smith’s lately renamed Ask the Trucker Live online radio program (formerly Truth About Trucking Live, as regular readers will know).

You can listen the full replay of the Smiths’ talk with Della Maggiore and others below.

But note that Della Maggiore didn’t just come by trucking advocacy via the Wall Street Journal. He’s also one of the proprietors behind the public outreach Facebook group Give Truckers Room, well worth checking out for its aim in part to bring awareness to safe driving habits around big rigs on the road.

On Ask the Trucker Live he made note of “how this little article,” he said, has been received around the nation in quarters in- and outside the industry — many thought truckers “were just blowing steam” with parking complaints, he said, but there’s more to it than that, as you know. With the economy picking up some of the last couple years following the decline, there’s even less in the way of solid parking for a growing volume of trucks hauling freight. “We’re really getting in a bind.”

The issue doesn’t end for him with the story. He’ll continue pushing the issue via the Facebook group, he told the Smiths. Today, “social media is the mainstream,” or as close as you can get to it. “If we can’t park and be safe, then we can’t operate efficiently and professionally.”

The issue is compounded by the growing use of electronic logging devices, which put more pressure on the driver to truly plan ahead for parking, easy enough if you’ve been to a destination before. But, as Della Maggiore acknowledged to the Smiths, “When you get to a place you don’t know, that’s when you can get into a bind” in the search for parking, depending on how long you’re delayed at the load/unload site.

In comments following Overdrive‘s coverage of the Journal story, reader Stan Brown detailed just such an incident following a delivery in the southern part of San Francisco with no more than a 15-minute unload and, nope, “can’t stay there.” There were several “truck stops” in the area — but all were small places with little room and, sure enough, full as it is. “A quick net check and everything is full for a 50 mile radius, and my e-log steadily going: ‘Park real soon for 10 or Pop Goes the HOS Violator Weasel.'”

Brown hustled “all the way down U.S. 101 to Gilroy to the Garlic Farm” truck stop there, “eating all that [deadhead] fuel.

“I get the whole problem — land availability, public land, private land, public funds, private funds, state, federal, local money from different departments, private but pay to park… — and it is complex; but this Schnizzle don’t Fizzle, folks. Makes me not care if the fine folks in the City by the Bay have any chicken to go with their Rice-a-Roni or not. I just don’t want to come here in my big pretty when they won’t let me park it close.”

Other readers pointed to the growth in parking issues since institution of the 14-hour window in the hours of service regulations, which some argue essentially turned the industry into more of a daytime business.

“Way back when it was 10 and 8 we only had parking issues in the Northeast or around the cities — now it’s everywhere,” noted Tom and Sheila Hurd. Arriving at many truck stops after 8 p.m.? You’re hard-pressed to find a spot, often “even out in Bumpkinville. Granted, I prefer being able to hold a relatively stable daily routine, just as I am sure others do too, but it is havoc on parking when everyone is driving days.”

Conversations around the issue will continue, for certain. As I reported previously, results from an official DOT study of parking hotspots is due fairly soon, and FMCSA, responding to continuing driver recommendation (among other things), is studying the safety of split sleep, which holds the potential to result in liberalizing the split-sleeper rules in the hours regs. That might create operational flexibility to the point that parking issues ease to one degree or another.

The Chattanooga Time Free Press reported just today, too, on a collaborative project between FMCSA and SmartParkingUSA on two sites along the I-75 corridor in East Tennessee that will test info-sharing capabilities on parking availability and reservations, with one of the sites (just south of Athens) already open and with spaces available. Read the full report via this link. That joins other somewhat similar efforts in Minnesota and elsewhere that we’ve reported on, as well as a variety of truck-stop availability-reporting efforts long in play that at least make the attempt at planning ahead for parking less than a shot in the dark.

The Ask the Trucker Live program follows, which also hosted callers and Nichola Carretta of the Ultraship TMS telematics/software vendor. In the wake of the Journal’s report, Carretta’s company also highlighted the parking issue a report you can access via the prior link, noting the company’s technological yard-management platform — intended to help shippers/receivers get drivers in and out as quickly as possible. Take a listen.

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