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Feds noncommittal on timing of next truck parking update

The Federal Highway Administration is leaving open the time frame for its next update evaluating the ability of states to provide adequate parking and rest facilities for truck drivers.

Known as Jason’s Law, the survey and subsequent updates were required by law in 2012 as part of a federal highway funding bill. The first survey, conducted in 2015, found truck parking in the U.S. to be severely lacking, and a 2019 update, made public in December 2020, revealed that the problem continued to grow.

The law requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to “periodically” update the survey. However, FHWA has not yet confirmed when the next survey will be conducted. “In the years to come, we will conduct additional surveys periodically, as required by statute,” the agency stated in response to an inquiry about the status.

According to the latest survey of top trucking industry issues, truck parking tied for the No. 1 issue (along with compensation) affecting commercial drivers, according to the American Transportation Research Institute.

In a recent joint letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association warned of wide-ranging effects posed by the lack of parking capacity, noting there is one truck parking space for every 11 drivers.

“The scarcity of truck parking spaces across the country decreases safety for all highway users, exacerbates the industry’s long-standing workforce challenges, contributes negatively to driver health and well-being, diminishes trucking productivity and results in unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions,” the groups wrote.

They also cited the 2019 Jason’s Law report, which found that 98% of drivers regularly experience problems finding safe parking, an increase from 75% in the 2015 report. “Unfortunately, the full 2019 Jason’s Law Report has not been released, and we hope you will expedite its publication.”

Asked to clarify, Norita Taylor, OOIDA’s director of public relations, said that while the 2015 survey included a detailed final report, DOT has so far only released a slide presentation on the updated results. “There’s no real report to speak of, just a high level summary,” Taylor told FreightWaves.

FHWA told FreightWaves that DOT will be responding to the associations’ letter but did not address the 2019 Jason’s Law survey. FHWA’s website provides links to the 2019 update and notes that “no further material is expected to be published.”

The agency emphasized that the administration is taking truck parking seriously, pointing to recent testimony by Buttigieg before a congressional committee that “there are a number of programs” states can use to fund truck parking expansion, including the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, the National Highway Freight Program and the Highway Safety Improvement Program.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.