ELDs’ parking impact: Trucker Path data show big shift in planning, little in capacity stress

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Reader Bob Stanton had a capital idea after reading some of my prior posts soliciting input on any impact of the e-log shift in recent times on the parking situation along the nation’s highways. The vast majority of truckers polled here at OverdriveOnline.com have seen an impact, for sure, with greater difficulty around parking generally the prevailing sentiment.

Stanton suggested Trucker Path might be able to provide some quantification around any impacts, so I reached out to them a little more than a week ago, asking whether a comparison between March and April of 2017 and March and April of 2018 might provide some insight. For those who don’t know, Trucker Path’s trip planning (and more) app is a widely utilized tool among truckers, and part of its multi-functionality is to enables users to report whether truck-stop lots contain “Lots of spots” open, “Some spots” or whether it’s a “Lot full” scenario. The app then allows those reports to be searched and found by users.

Trucker Path’s Sam Bokher did a bit of analysis, presenting these graphs as results.

March and April 2017-2018 comparison in driver-reported parking lot status within Trucker Path’s trip-planning app. The number of reports are shown as a percentage of total reports nationally during the time periods specified.March and April 2017-2018 comparison in driver-reported parking lot status within Trucker Path’s trip-planning app. The number of reports are shown as a percentage of total reports nationally during the time periods specified.

Though slightly higher percentages of users did report full lots in 2018 than in 2017 for both months, generally Bokher says “there isn’t much difference between 2017 and 2018” in the driver-report data.

That dovetails a bit with Delaware State Police Sergeant Walter Newton’s contention that capacity isn’t stressed any more than it was before the mandate, but that the added urgency behind the necessity of planning for parking has led to a heightened awareness of the need for improvement in parking capacity all along the supply chain.

When it comes to Trucker Path’s data, where there exists a considerable difference between 2017 and 2018 is in the number of searches for parking information from within the app. When Bokher looked at that, it told a story of a large change in the space of a year, illustrating a sizable increase in operational planning around parking that’s likewise of a piece with Sergeant Newton’s contention that the biggest change might be in awareness of parking issues.

During peak parking hours, comparing April 2017 and the same month this year, Trucker Path users as shown performed almost double the number of searches for parking information within the app.During peak parking hours, comparing April 2017 and the same month this year, Trucker Path users as shown performed almost double the number of searches for parking information within the app.

While Trucker Path’s user base increased just 20 percent over the time period analyzed, parking-info searches as drivers planned stops, as shown above, had nearly doubled, with a very steep curve upward in search numbers between 3 and 8 p.m. Eastern time.

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It’s clear, at least, that when it comes to parking in the electronic age, truckers want to know what’s ahead. More on capacity improvements and information services like this is upcoming with the June issue. Stay tuned.

The ‘hope for leniency’ on ticky-tack hours issues with ELDs, redux
Turns out, owner-op Tom Werner’s not the only one to experience a bit of hard-edged hours enforcement partly as a result of the quirks of ELDs. A driver commenting under Werner’s story at OverdriveOnline.com noted he’d recently “stopped in traffic and the ELD changed automatically to on-duty not driving” while he was still in the road. The hauler ran a few hours down the road without realizing the switch, “got stopped by the police,” and got an hours violation for a false log.

Hope is cold comfort in the electronic age?