How to reduce FMCSA fines by helping drivers find truck parking

For over a decade, the lack of truck parking has been an issue that industry leaders and government officials have been trying to solve. In 2009, legislators began to push Jason’s Law, which would encourage the construction of new truck parking. In 2012, the law was finally passed. In 2015, the FMCSA conducted the first Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey and found there were still truck parking shortages across the United States. On December 1st, the FMCSA released a follow-up to that survey. What did it find?

Not much has changed.

The 2015 survey reported that 76% of truckers had trouble finding parking at least once a week. According to the 2020 survey, that number has only gone down by only 1%. Even though awareness of the shortage is higher than ever, and even though Jason’s Law has been in place for 8 years, finding truck parking is as difficult as it has ever been.

Unfortunately, the problem isn’t likely to get resolved soon. The 2020 survey found that there has been an 11% increase in private parking and a 6% increase in public parking, but a 15% increase in truck vehicle miles traveled. While the number of truck parking spots is growing, it can’t keep pace with booming truck traffic.

The parking shortage impacts trucking’s bottom line

When drivers can’t find parking, they’re forced to continue driving beyond on-duty hours or park in illegal spaces. When this happens, they and their employers are more likely to be hit with FMCSA fines and tickets from local law enforcement.

Because a single violation can cost tens of thousands of dollars and 3 out of 4 drivers can’t find parking at least once a week, this shortage seriously cuts into company profits. Fortunately, the Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey reveals where and when drivers should be most aware of parking challenges.

The most important truck parking factors

There’s no one-size fits all solution for finding parking. But the most important factors to consider are these:

1. Whether the driver will be in an urban or rural location by the end of their shift.

2. Whether the driver is familiar with the roads they’ll be on by the end of their shift.

3. Whether it’s a weekday or weekend.

The 2020 Jason’s Law survey reports that truck parking issues cluster in “areas of significant economic activity such as major metropolitan areas or in areas with significant freight intermodal activity.” In other words: If a driver is near a city, near a port, or on a heavily trafficked route, they need to be aware that parking will be difficult to find.

The survey also reported that, “Drivers do not have a sense of parking for the routes other than those they travel or the area in which they operate. Their understanding of (parking) adequacy is relative to where they are operating.” In other words: If a driver is on a route they don’t usually travel, they should assume that parking might be difficult to find.

Finally, the survey found that it’s significantly more difficult to find parking on weekdays than it is on Sundays and especially Saturday, the least parking-congested day of the week.

How FleetUp helps drivers find parking before their on-duty hours max out

Drivers should pair these three truck parking factors with the FleetUp Mobile App’s HOS Voice Assistant. Downloadable on both Android and iOS phones, the FleetUp Voice Assistant speaks up and warns drivers before they run out of on-duty driving hours. The Voice Assistant warning can be set to different times depending on the situation: 20, 30, 40, 50, or 60 minutes before drivers have to stop.

In order to make best use of their FleetUp Voice Assistant, drivers should roughly estimate where they’ll be by the end of their on-duty driving time at the start of their workday. If they’ll wind up in a rural area they know well on a Saturday, then parking will be easy and they can set their Voice Assistant to alert them when only 20 minutes are left. If they’ll wind up in an urban area they don’t know well on a weekday, they can set their Voice Assistant to alert them when 60 minutes are left, so they have plenty of time to search for parking.

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