Friday, June 21, 2024

Lawmakers introduce ‘clear path’ to more truck parking

WASHINGTON — The latest push to expand parking for truck drivers is a synchronized effort by lawmakers in both houses of Congress.

The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, introduced in the House and Senate on Wednesday, authorizes $755 million over four years through a competitive grant program. The money would be dedicated to increasing and improving safe parking for truckers, primarily through new facilities or by converting existing weigh stations and rest areas.

A similar bill introduced in the previous Congress in 2021 advanced through the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where it passed unanimously in July 2022.

“By expanding access to parking options for truckers, we are making our roads safer for all commuters and ensuring that goods and supplies are shipped to market in the most efficient way possible,” said Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., who along with Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., is an original co-sponsor of the previous and current House legislation.

“This is a matter of public safety, and I’m committed to do all I can to drive this legislation over the finish line,” Bost added.

The chances of that happening are improved by stand-alone legislation addressing the truck parking issue specifically, versus broader legislation introduced in January — the SHIP IT Act — which included a truck parking section nearly identical to the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, according to George O’Connor, communications director for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“The SHIP IT Act is a bill of the ‘comprehensive’ variety, so its path to passage is significantly more complicated,” O’Connor told FreightWaves. “The more focused parking-only bill has a clearer path, especially since it passed the House committee last Congress.” In addition, “simultaneous introduction of bipartisan House/Senate bills demonstrates the broad political support for the effort.”

Sens. Mike Kelly, D-Ariz., and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., are the original co-sponsors of the Senate version of the bill they introduced in December and which they reintroduced Wednesday.

“People in Wyoming are still feeling the impacts of the supply chain crisis, and unreliable truck parking is another contributing factor to that,” Lummis said. “Fixing the parking problem will help ease this burden on consumers.”

Like OOIDA, the American Trucking Associations is firmly behind the bills. ATA cited a government report that found 98% of drivers regularly experience problems finding safe parking. The report also found that the truck parking shortage exists in every state and is most acute along major freight corridors.

ATA also asserts that the lack of truck parking capacity has forced 70% of drivers to violate federal hours-of-service rules.

“Given the chronic nature of this issue and its national scope, it is imperative Congress take action to provide dedicated funding to expand commercial truck parking capacity,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear.

ATA noted that the Senate’s version establishes new funding eligibility criteria, including considerations for driver safety. “The lack of safe parking options is often cited as a deterrent to more women joining the industry,” the group stated.

Related articles:

Buttigieg addresses teen drivers, truck parking at Senate hearing

Truck parking expansion wins DOT funding grants

DOT unlocks money for clean-truck parking capacity

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

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