Trucking groups petition DOT for truck parking expansion | 3G sunsetting begins

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022:

OOIDA, ATA call on DOT for more truck parking

Demonstrating the importance of the issue to the trucking industry, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations penned a joint letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg asking the U.S. DOT for assistance in addressing the nationwide shortage of truck parking.

The groups, often enough at odds on issues, said the lack of parking “decreases safety for all highway users, exacerbates the industry’s longstanding workforce challenges, contributes negatively to driver health and well-being, diminishes trucking productivity, and results in unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions.”

The letter cites DOT’s most recent Jason’s Law report, which demonstrated that the parking issue is continually getting worse. The 2019 report, the groups said, found that 98% of truck drivers regularly experience problems finding safe parking – an increase from 75% in the 2015 report. The full report has not yet been fully released, and the groups asked that Buttigieg expedite that process.

“Ultimately, the pervasive truck parking shortage can be explained with simple math," the groups said. "There are about 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States and approximately 313,000 truck parking spaces nationally; for every 11 drivers, there is one truck parking space" at a truck stop or rest area. 

The letter outlines several issues the lack of parking causes, including hours of service limits forcing drivers to park in unsafe or illegal areas or to violate HOS regulations to find safe, legal parking; drivers not having access to restrooms, food and well-lit facilities; a decrease in driver productivity, causing reduced driver pay and higher operating costs; and more.

OOIDA and ATA asked Buttigieg to educate state and local governments about grants available to them through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that would increase funding for truck parking expansion.

“If the USDOT prioritizes the expansion of truck parking capacity and makes significant progress toward that effort, drivers will be safer and healthier, fleets will be more productive, the trucking workforce will be more resilient, and trucks will reduce their fuel needs and emit fewer emissions into the environment,” the letter concludes. “All of these benefits would be passed on to the average American in the form of lower prices, greater availability of goods, and a cleaner planet.”

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[Related: The truck parking impact of Jason's Law, nearly a decade in -- and one state's move to add capacity]

Reminder: 3G network sunsetting begins today

The long-in-the-works sunsetting of the 3G cellular network begins today, Feb. 22, with AT&T’s shutdown of its 3G network.

While newer cell phones, tablets and other devices are operating on 4G or newer networks, some legacy devices may still be using the 3G network solely and will no longer be functional after the shutdowns.

This includes electronic logging devices -- if still operating on a 3G network, those ELDs will no longer be compliant with the technical specifications of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ELD rule.

When in an area that does not support 3G, a 3G device will register a malfunction. In accordance with 49 CFR 395.34, the carrier has eight days to get the malfunction resolved, in this case by replacement, unless an extension is granted.

[Related: How to get more time for a malfunctioning ELD]

AT&T is the first of the major cell providers to shut down its 3G network to make room for newer 5G networks and beyond. Other network shutdown dates are:

  • Sprint 3G (T-Mobile): March 31
  • Sprint LTE (T-Mobile): June 30
  • T-Mobile 3G: July 1
  • Verizon 3G: Dec. 31

FMCSA also notes that many cell providers such as Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk, and several Lifeline mobile service providers, utilize the AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile networks.

[Related: Hundreds of thousands of ELDs at risk with 2022's 3G network sunsetting]

Arizona enforcement blitz ongoing through Friday

The Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Operation Southern Shield 2022 is taking place from Tuesday, Feb. 22, through Friday, Feb. 25 along I-10 from Phoenix to the New Mexico state line, and on I-19 to the international border.

The focus of the blitz is to target hazardous driving violations, conduct commercial motor vehicle inspections, and educate drivers on safe and compliant operation in an effort to reduce crashes involving commercial motor vehicles. Non-commercial vehicles that operate unsafely around CMVs will also be stopped.

This major enforcement detail is being led by the newly formed AZDPS Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Task Force (CVETF), which is comprised of AZDPS Commercial Vehicle Enforcement troopers and Arizona Department of Transportation Enforcement and Compliance Division officers.

During the blitz, troopers and officers will work with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and officers from the Marana, Oro Valley and Tucson police departments.

[Related: CVSA announces Roadcheck inspection blitz dates, OOS criteria changes]

New Pilot opens in New Mexico

The Pilot Company announced it has opened a new Pilot Travel Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The new location, at exit 215 on I-25, adds 70 truck parking spaces, seven diesel fueling lanes, a McDonald’s restaurant, five showers and more.

“We’ve been serving drivers across New Mexico for 35 years and are proud to open our 15th location in the state,” said Pilot Company Chief Operator Jason Nordin. “With our new Pilot Travel Center, we look forward to providing fast and friendly service, comfortable facilities, and additional truck parking for professional truck drivers traveling through the south end of Albuquerque.”

To celebrate the new location’s grand opening, the new Pilot Travel Center will offer an exclusive deal from Feb. 21-March 13 for 25% off food and beverages by entering the promo code “Pilot1106” in Pilot’s myRewards Plus app.