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Study of Adequacy of Commercial Truck Parking Facilities

 

St. Matthews, SC where Jason Rivenburg was killed

 

 

Study of Adequacy of Commercial Truck Parking Facilities

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3.0 COMMERCIAL TRUCK PARKING SUPPLY

3.1 Estimating Parking Space Supply

This section contains an inventory of the number of public rest areas and commercial truck stops and travel plazas that could be used to comply with Federal HOS rules. The two primary data sources for the commercial vehicle parking supply information presented in this document are 1) the Interstate America database of commercial truck stops and travel plazas and 2) a survey of public agency rest areas conducted for this study. The inventory information presented herein is the most recently available and is generally characteristic of conditions in 1999 (in the case of the commercial truck stop database) and 2000 (in the case of the public rest area survey).

While this inventory does include the parking areas that are located close to the NHS and used most often by truck drivers, the inventory does not include parking that is available from other sources (e.g., restaurants and stores located close to the NHS, loading and unloading facilities). Table 1 lists the locations at which drivers reported last parking for rest and the relative frequency with which these locations were reported.

The inventory presented includes all the Interstates on the NHS and selected non-Interstate portions of the NHS with daily truck volumes of greater than or equal to 1,000. Information was gathered for each parking facility on each highway segment and summed to generate estimates of the parking supply for each highway segment.

3.2 Public Parking Facilities

A survey that included 49 States (excluding Hawaii) was conducted to gather information on truck parking capacity at public rest areas and welcome centers. Information was obtained from all 49 State DOTs and their toll road agencies for a combined total of 1,771 public rest areas. Information was compiled and entered into an electronic database for use in this study. The results for each State are summarized in table 9.

The “Parking Facilities” column of this table lists the total number of public rest areas identified in each State, and the “Parking Spaces” column lists the total number of parking spaces at those facilities. The “Weigh Station” column indicates whether the State allows parking at weigh stations, and the “Imposes Time Limits” column indicates whether the State imposes time limits on parking at public rest areas.

As can be seen from reviewing the results of table 9, some States permit drivers to use weigh stations for parking when the stations are closed. While this does create additional parking spaces for drivers, the estimated number of spaces created was not included in the analysis. During the driver surveys (summarized in section 2.2 > of this report), many drivers indicated that parking at a weigh station was not a desirable solution. These facilities often lack amenities, and concern was also expressed about parking at an enforcement facility. An additional constraint to estimating the number of parking spaces at these facilities is that weigh station hours of operation vary and rotate between daytime and evening operations. This variance meets the needs of the enforcement community, as it enables enforcement personnel to maintain random inspection patterns. However, this variance makes the availability of these facilities for use as parking spaces somewhat random. The study team determined that, based on these factors, weigh and inspection stations should not be considered as a supply source of parking spaces for the overall analysis.

Table 9. Commercial truck parking inventory: Public rest area facilities along interstates and other NHS routes carrying more than 1,000 trucks per day.

State
Parking Facilities
Parking Spaces
Weigh Stations
Imposes Time Limits
Alabama
27
712
check mark
Alaska
N/A1
457
Arizona
38
559
Arkansas
21
343
California
88
1,106
check mark
Colorado
31
167
Connecticut
20
361
check mark
Delaware
1
70
check mark
Florida
69
1,709
check mark
check mark
Georgia
31
1,162
check mark
check mark
Idaho
30
245
check mark
check mark
Illinois
54
1,267
Indiana
52
2,430
check mark
Iowa
38
804
check mark
Kansas
29
455
check mark
Kentucky
44
991
check mark
check mark
Louisiana
15
221
Maine
11
113
Maryland
11
295
Massachusetts
17
140
check mark
Michigan
75
1,570
Minnesota
40
536
check mark
Mississippi
43
428
check mark
check mark
Missouri
35
618
Montana
43
392
check mark
Nebraska
22
263
check mark
Nevada
36
260
check mark
New Hampshire
6
86
check mark
New Jersey
19
667
check mark
New Mexico
11
78
check mark
check mark
New York
36
1,257
check mark
check mark
North Carolina
37
642
North Dakota
30
260
Ohio
98
1,402
Oklahoma
63
767
Oregon
40
602
check mark
Pennsylvania
65
1,298
check mark
Rhode Island
5
267
South Carolina
49
816
South Dakota
21
371
check mark
check mark
Tennessee
30
767
check mark
Texas
105
654
check mark
Utah
24
238
Vermont
41
178
Virginia
39
820
check mark
Washington
29
455
check mark
West Virginia
21
506
Wisconsin
23
652
Wyoming
58
792
TOTAL
1,771
31,249

1Alaska did not report the number of facilities.

Note: Checks denote States allowing truck parking in weigh stations and States that impose time limits in public rest areas.

An additional consideration identified during the course of the survey is that 25 States indicated that they have time limits on the amount of time a truck may be parked at a public rest area. Of these, 9 States have limits that should have little impact on using the facilities for long-term rest to satisfy HOS rest requirements (e.g., the time limit is greater than 8 hours, the time limit applies only during the day), while the other 16 States have limits that might impact using the facilities for long-term rest. Of these 16 States, 10 enforce the time restrictions only rarely or never, leaving only 6 States sometimes enforcing time restrictions that might impact the use of the facilities for long-term rest.[a]

An analysis of the number of parking spaces at public rest areas along Interstate highways versus non-Interstate highways indicated a total of 28,396 spaces distributed along 39,963 miles of Interstate highways included in this study and 2,853 non-Interstate spaces distributed along 21,702 miles of non-Interstate highways.

Although not developed as part of the inventory process, researchers did develop an estimate of 1 percent annually for the expected growth rate of truck parking spaces at public rest areas. This estimate was derived from the response of the State partnerships regarding plans to improve public rest areas (see section 5.4.1). Fifteen States indicated that they have firm plans to provide additional parking spaces at public facilities, and 11 of these States provided a specific number of spaces for a total increase of 1,609 spaces at public facilities over the next 5 years. This increase of 1,609 spaces is 5.1 percent of the 31,249 current spaces, and a 5.1 percent increase over 5 years is equivalent to a 1 percent annual growth rate.

3.3Commercial Truck Stop and Travel Plaza Parking Facilities

Commercial truck stops and travel plazas are designed to provide drivers an opportunity to fulfill many non-rest related activities, while public rest areas provide the driver with only minimal services. Commercial truck stop operators provide a number of services to trucks and typically provide extended parking to encourage drivers to use these services. In other words, commercial truck stop and travel plaza operators do not provide extended-stay parking as a primary service but only to encourage purchases of fuel, food, and other services. Truck stop operators do not generally charge for parking and provide parking only to attract business.

The primary data source for the inventory of commercial truck stops and travel plazas was the Truck Stops Database developed by Interstate America. FHWA, for purposes of this study, obtained a license permitting the use of the 1999 database. This database, which includes every known facility in the United States and Canada (for a total of 6,327 facilities), is updated annually and contains information describing the number of commercial vehicle parking spaces available at a facility as well as information about the amenities at that facility. Unfortunately, the number of truck parking spaces available is not expressed as an exact number, but as one of the ranges listed in table 10; this results in a range of possible values for the inventory of truck parking spaces for each highway segment rather than an exact number.

The commercial truck stops and travel plazas listed in this database were identified with the road segments that were the basis of the demand model calculations. The number of parking spaces for each road segment was determined by summing the spaces at each commercial truck stop and travel plaza for that segment. Because the number of truck parking spaces was reported as a range, this resulted in a minimum number of spaces (obtained by summing the bottom number of the range) and a maximum number of spaces (obtained by summing the top number of the range) when this database was used to evaluate the supply of truck parking.

Table 10. Parking capacity ranges from the Truck Stops Database

Parking Code
Definition
Min
Max
NM
Not Marked
0
0
N
None
0
0
L
Limited
1
4
5-25
Range from 5 to 25
5
25
26-50
Range from 26 to 50
26
50
51-99
Range from 51 to 99
51
99
100-199
Range from 100 to 199
100
199
200-299
Range from 200 to 299
200
299
300-399
Range from 300 to 399
300
399
400-499
Range from 400 to 499
400
499
500-600
Range from 500 to 600
500
600

In an effort to better quantify shortages of truck parking spaces that may exist, some States completed a field inventory of the commercial parking facilities along the highway segments included in this study. This generated an exact count (i.e., the minimum and maximum number of spaces is the same) for the number of parking spaces available, and these exact counts were used in place of the ranges obtained from the truck stops database. The results of this inventory for each State are summarized table 11 The “Parking Facilities” column of this table lists the total number of commercial truck stop and travel plaza facilities identified in each State, and the “Parking Spaces” column lists the total number of parking spaces at those facilities.

An analysis of the number of parking spaces at commercial truck stops and travel plazas along Interstate highways versus non-Interstate highways indicated a total of between 153,829 and 260,599 spaces distributed along 39,963 miles of Interstate highways included in this study and between 13,705 and 24,002 non-Interstate spaces distributed along 21,702 miles of non-Interstate highways.

The expected growth of truck parking spaces at commercial truck stops and travel plazas is expected to be about 6.5 percent annually. This estimate was derived from an evaluation of the Truck Stops Database for the years 1997 to 2000 performed by the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) Foundation. This evaluation found an historical growth rate of 6.5 percent for this period, and NATSO expects this growth rate to continue in the future.

3.4 Driver Assessment of Parking Facility Quality

The number of parking spaces is only part of the issue related to the adequacy of the supply of truck parking spaces. For example, if sufficient spaces are available yet these spaces are either difficult to access or do not have the amenities that a driver needs, then a driver may choose to park at an over-crowded facility, may park at an inappropriate location, or may drive while tired to find a more favorable facility. This section summarizes the results from the driver survey (see section >2.2 )that indicate truck drivers’ assessments of the quality and availability of truck parking facilities.

Table 11. Commercial truck parking inventory: Commercial truck stop and travel plaza facilities along interstates and other NHS routes carrying more than 1,000 trucks per day.

State
Parking Facilities
Parking Spaces
Alabama
99
3,650-6,902
Alaska1
Arizona
58
4,730-8,140
Arkansas
108
3,806-7,519
California2
122
7,496
Colorado2
57
2,710
Connecticut
12
650-1,243
Delaware
8
128-324
Florida
85
3,692-7,339
Georgia
122
6,158-11,475
Idaho2
25
1,967
Illinois
122
4,962-9,602
Indiana
119
7,972-14,529
Iowa
65
2,994-5,209
Kansas
55
2,209-4,383
Kentucky
76
3,745-7,186
Louisiana
115
4,682-9,159
Maine
16
738-1,248
Maryland
14
2,008-2,290
Massachusetts
20
1,040-1,916
Michigan
90
2,925-6,147
Minnesota
58
2,200-4,503
Mississippi
98
3,277-7,003
Missouri
140
6,468-12,272
Montana
39
1,499-3,085
Nebraska2
46
2,835
Nevada
31
2,930-4,979
New Hampshire
13
294-697
New Jersey
34
1,980-3,730
New Mexico
49
3,657-6,322
New York
97
3,441-6,970
North Carolina
102
3,771-7,323
North Dakota
25
960-2,039
Ohio2
135
11,474
Oklahoma
129
4,683-9,632
Oregon
52
3,052-5,702
Pennsylvania
134
7,722-14,502
Rhode Island2
3
420
South Carolina
96
4,291-8,515
South Dakota2
30
1,331
Tennessee2
89
6,419
Texas
284
12,277-23,525
Utah
43
1,138-2,488
Vermont
63
185-449
Virginia
13
4,183-7,445
Washington
39
1,295-2,663
West Virginia
21
821-1,717
Wisconsin
80
2,863-5,971
Wyoming2
51
3,806
TOTAL
3,382
167,534-284,601

1Alaska did not report on the number of commercial parking facilities and spaces.

2These States provided independent estimates of parking facilities and spaces.

Drivers were asked to report how frequently truck parking spaces have certain usability characteristics. Drivers rated how frequently available parking is convenient to the highway, has the features they need, has time limits that allow enough time for their needs, has enough room for them to maneuver their trucks in and out, and is used only by trucks. Respondents gave mixed ratings for all these usability characteristics (table 12). For each of these usability characteristics, sometimes [encountered] was the most frequently reported driver response. The usability characteristic that was most often encountered by respondents (i.e., most often given ratings of frequently or almost always) was available parking has the features I need, marked by 51 percent of respondents. Thirty-nine percent of respondents indicated that available parking is frequently or almost always convenient to the highway.

Table 12. Driver-reported usability characteristics in truck parking.

Usability Characteristic
Almost Always
Frequently
Sometimes
Rarely
Almost Never
Parking is convenient to highway
9%
30%
41%
12%
7%
Facility has features needed
15%
36%
38%
7%
3%
Parking time limits allow enough time
15%
22%
30%
18%
15%
Parking allows enough room to drive in and out
8%
24%
48%
15%
6%
Truck spaces used only by trucks
9%
25%
34%
20%
12%
Note : Due to rounding, percentages may not sum to 100.

To help clarify drivers’ parking preferences, the survey asked drivers to identify how important various parking facility features are to them when they park their trucks. Drivers rated various features on a scale from one to five (almost always important to almost never important). Table 13 shows the features evaluated, along with the mean and modal ratings they received. Features rated as most important were generally the ones that address basic needs. Food, fuel, restrooms, phones, showers, convenience to highway, and well-lighted parking lots all received modal ratings of almost always important. In fact, between 70 and 85 percent of the sample rated these features as frequently or almost always important. Interestingly, drivers appear to value well-lighted parking lots more than they value security presence. Seventy-five percent of respondents rated “well-lighted parking lots” as frequently or almost always important, while only 60 percent gave the same ratings to “security presence.” The majority of drivers rated features such as entertainment facilities, Internet connections, and availability of travel information as less important.

Almost 400 respondents provided written comments on the parking facility features they consider important. The single most frequently mentioned feature was big parking spaces that allow trucks to maneuver in andout (written by 45 drivers). Drivers indicated that they look for quiet parking facilities where they are not likely to be disturbed by police officers or solicitors. They value clean facilities where the personnel are friendly. Drivers also commented that they prefer parking facilities that allow access to shopping areas with grocery or department stores. Finally, drivers commented that laundry facilities add to the appeal of a parking facility.

Ratings given by short-haul drivers reflected the fact that they value parking facility features differently than long-haul drivers. Specifically, long-haul drivers most often rated features such as showers, fuel, and well-lighted parking lots as almost always important, while short-haul drivers most often rated these same features as only frequently important. Female respondents provided different ratings than their male counterparts on some features. Eighty percent of women rated security presence as frequently or almost

Table 13. Driver-rated importance of features when parking.

Important Features
Mean
Median
Mode
Restrooms
1.4
1.0
1
Convenient to highway
1.6
1.0
1
Showers
1.7
1.0
1
Well-lighted parking lot
1.9
1.0
1
Public phones
1.9
1.0
1
Restaurant
1.9
1.0
1
Fuel
2.0
1.0
1
Security presence
2.3
2.0
1
Repair facilities
2.6
3.0
1
Prepaid fuel cards accepted
2.9
3.0
1
Vending machines
3.4
3.0
5
Entertainment facilities
3.4
3.0
5
Travel information available
3.6
4.0
5
Internet connections
4.0
5.0
5
Note: Respondents rated the features on a scale from one to five (almost always important to almost never important).

always important, while just under 60 percent of men gave the same ratings to security presence. Additionally, 92 percent of women rated “well-lighted parking lots” as frequently or almost always important, while about three-quarters of men did the same.

In addition to inquiring about the features that are important to drivers, the survey also asked which type of parking facilities (public versus commercial) they prefer for parking. Because parking facility preference likely depends on the purpose of the stop, various common “reasons for parking” were identified to give context to their facility preferences. Generally when drivers showed a preference, they indicated a preference for commercial truck stops over public rest areas (table 14). Public rest areas were preferred to commercial truck stops only when drivers stopped for a quick (less than 2-hour) nap. For extended rest (more than 2 hours), performing minor truck maintenance, and eating a meal, drivers overwhelmingly preferred truck stops to rest areas, with between 79 and 91 percent of drivers indicating a preference for truck stops and fewer than 6 percent indicating a preference for rest areas. Most respondents marked no preference for stops made to use vending machines, get travel information, use public phones, and use the restroom. However, among those drivers who did show a facility preference when making these types of stops, more drivers indicated a preference for truck stops. For all the parking reasons listed, short-haul driver preferences were the same as long-haul driver preferences.

Table 14. Drivers’ parking facility preferences by purpose of stop.

Reason for Parking
Rest Area
No Preference
Truck Stop
Take a quick nap (< 2 hours)
45%
36%
19%
Take an extended rest (> 2 hours)
6%
16%
79%
Use vending machines
28%
58%
14%
Get travel information
9%
51%
40%
Use public phones
14%
49%
37%
Perform minor maintenance on truck
2%
19%
79%
Use the restroom
25%
45%
30%
Eat a meal
1%
8%
91%
Note: Due to rounding, percentages may not sum to 100.

3.5 Interchangeability of Public Rest Area and Commercial Truck Stop and Travel Plaza Parking

An important factor in determining whether there is a sufficient supply of truck parking spaces involves the concept of interchangeability of spaces at public rest areas and commercial truck stops and travel plazas. That is to say, can a surplus of parking spaces at commercial truck stops and travel plazas compensate for a shortfall in available public rest area parking? Because most truck drivers use public rest areas and commercial truck stops and travel plazas for resting, it is logical to conclude that a driver can rest equally well while parked at a public rest area or at a commercial truck stop or travel plaza and, therefore, that these spaces are interchangeable. This view is challenged, however, by the results of the national survey of driver needs and preferences, by the findings of field observational studies, and by the imbalance identified within the supply and demand ratios between public and commercial parking spaces.

3.5.1 National Truck Parking Needs and Preferences Survey

Drivers’ responses to the Truck Parking Needs and Preferences Survey conducted as part of this study demonstrated definite preferences and priorities when it comes to choosing where they will park. These preferences are offered as evidence of the limited interchangeability or substitutability between public rest areas and commercial truck stops or travel plazas.

When drivers park for quick naps (less than 2 hours), they prefer to park in public rest areas (45 percent of the drivers preferred a public rest area, 19 percent preferred commercial truck stops, and 36 percent expressed no preference between public rest areas and commercial truck stops). For more lengthy activities (greater than 2 hours), such as eating a meal, resting for the night, or repairing a truck, drivers choose truck stops where possible (79 percent of the drivers preferred a truck stop, 6 percent preferred rest areas, and 16 percent expressed no preference between rest areas and truck stops).

To help clarify drivers’ parking preferences, the survey asked drivers to identify how important various parking facility features are to them when they park their trucks. Restrooms, convenience to highway, showers, well-lighted parking lots, and public phones were the top features selected from a list of 14 features that drivers rated as most important. Three of the five features address drivers’ basic needs, while the other two clearly address drivers’ preferences. Drivers were also given the opportunity to write comments on the parking features they consider most important. The single most frequently mentioned feature was big parking spaces that allow trucks to maneuver in and out.

The survey also provided the respondents with the opportunity to speculate about why truck drivers sometimes park on entrance or exit ramps and highway shoulders. The most commonly reported reasons were that no nearby parking facility was available, no empty spaces were available at nearby truck stops or rest areas, nearby parking spaces have time limits that are too short, empty parking spaces nearby were blocked by others vehicles, the ramp/shoulder is convenient for getting back on the road, interruptions by strangers (e.g., drug dealers, prostitutes) were less likely, it is hard to drive around congested parking lots, and better lighting exists on ramp(s)/shoulder(s) than in lot(s).

3.5.2 Field Observational Studies

In addition to the driver self-report data cited above, more objective evidence to support the notion of limited interchangeability between public rest areas and commercial truck stops and travel plazas can be found from the results of observational field surveys conducted both for this study and by a number of States.

Commercial vehicle parking field surveys were conducted as part of the demand model development effort for this study. The purpose of these observational studies was to record trucks parked during the peak hour in public rest areas, commercial truck stops, pull-out areas, interchange ramps, mainline and cross-street shoulders, fueling stations, fast food restaurants, hotels, etc. The studies were conducted along three segments of NHS highway in Arkansas, six segments in Georgia, seven segments in Idaho, two segments in Mississippi, one segment in Missouri, six segments in Pennsylvania, two segments in Tennessee, and two segments in Virginia. These segments were selected as representing the typical range, from low to high, of truck parking supply and demand. Although most of the rest areas were full or overflowing, some of the commercial truck stops had spaces available, as did most of the fast food restaurants, fueling stations, and shopping centers along the segments, suggesting that drivers do differentiate between parking at public rest areas and other commercial parking areas.

The University of Tennessee conducted nighttime observational studies at all public rest areas in Tennessee for each day of the week.(7) Availability of space in commercial truck stops and travel plazas near interchanges was also examined. The results of the occupancy studies showed that the rest areas were overflowing with trucks at night, as evidenced by trucks parked along the shoulders of highway exit and entrance ramps as well as on interchange ramps. While the rest areas were overflowing, approximately 30 percent of the private truck parking spaces were not occupied, and the unoccupied private parking spaces outnumbered the trucks parked along the highways by nearly three-to-one. To understand why some truck drivers park along the highway when there are available private parking spaces, in-depth interviews were held with drivers. The opinions of the drivers interviewed were quite consistent. The findings were that commercial truck stops and public rest areas are not substitutes for each other because they meet different needs.

The State of Iowa completed field observations of truck parking on Interstate highways in 1999.(8) This study divided the Interstates in Iowa into six segments. Parking at public rest areas was observed to be above capacity for almost every segment and almost every day during the observation period, and trucks were observed parking on the shoulder at exit and entrance ramps. On the other hand, parking at commercial truck stops and travel plazas was observed to be above capacity for only a single segment, and then for only two of the seven days during the observation period. These observations suggest that drivers do differentiate between parking at public rest areas and other commercial parking areas.

In 1999 the Baltimore Metropolitan Council sponsored a study of truck parking in the Baltimore area that concluded that, even though there was a sufficient supply of parking spaces available to truck drivers, trucks were often parked illegally along the highways at night.(15) These observations suggest that truck drivers do differentiate between parking spaces by choosing to park in illegal spaces along the highway rather than legally at other locations.

FHWA supported a study in 1996 that included observations of truck parking along a stretch of I‑81 between Radford, VA, and Knoxville, TN.(1) These observations indicated that public rest areas tended to fill up quickly, reaching capacity before commercial truck stops. These findings suggest that truck drivers differentiate between parking at public rest areas and other commercial parking facilities.

As stated earlier in this report, the national driver survey was also used to develop an estimate of public and private parking demand to reflect drivers’ preferences for the two facility types. Drivers were asked, for each of seven activities, if they preferred to use public or commercial facilities. The relative preference for the two facility types was estimated by taking an average of the preferences for each activity, weighted by the duration of that activity. The results showed the proportions of total hourly parking demand for public rest areas and commercial truck stops to be 0.23 and 0.77, respectively. Therefore, if drivers had their preference, 23 percent of the total truck hours of parking demanded in a day (or the peak hour) would occur at public facilities, while the remaining 77 percent of the total truck hours of parking demand would occur at commercial facilities.

An assumption made in the modeling process, to convert 24-hour parking demand to peak-hour parking demand, was that a truck will occupy a space for at least 1 hour. While this assumption may not hold for daytime hours, the majority of trucks parked in the overnight peak hours are parked for longer periods of time in accordance with the HOS regulations. With this assumption in mind, due to the multiplicative nature of the model’s parameters, the proportions of hourly parking demand for public and commercial facilities can be directly compared to the proportions of parking supply at these two types of facilities. On average, only about 10 percent of the total available parking supply is at public facilities, while around 90 percent of the available parking supply is at commercial facilities. This imbalance in supply (10 percent at public facilities and 90 percent at commercial facilities) and demand (23 percent at public facilities and 77 percent at commercial facilities) is further evidence on the limits of interchangeability from the driver’s perspective.

In summary, while it may be argued that, because truck drivers could rest equally well at public rest areas and commercial truck stops and travel plazas, parking spaces at these two different types of rest stops are interchangeable. In other words, truck stop parking can be substituted for rest area parking, even if the private parking is not as convenient. On the other hand, empirical evidence provided through both driver surveys and observations of parking behavior indicate that parking at these locations is not interchangeable; more likely, the evidence suggests that there is some interchangeability and that this interchangeability is limited due to preferences expressed by drivers for one type of space over another. In reality, a system of parking exists in this country that consists of public rest areas, commercial truck stops and travel plazas, weigh stations, and various commercial establishments (motels, fast food restaurants, etc.). As a system, a certain synergy applies such that substitution occurs among the available types of spaces. However, it is not a complete substitutability. The interchangeability of one type of parking space for another is limited or governed by an array of factors that affect driver preferences (e.g., purpose of the stop, amenities available, parking convenience, time of day, hours since last slept, distance to next pickup/delivery), and these are the factors that influence a driver’s decision as to where to park.

4.0 COMMERCIAL TRUCK PARKING SUPPLY/DEMAND BALANCES

4.1 Methodology

The methodology used to analyze where shortages exist or are expected to exist involved a six-step process. First, the supply of available truck parking spaces was inventoried based on a database of commercial truck stops and travel plazas and a survey of public agency rest areas. Second, a parking demand model was developed and calibrated (based on a limited data set) to estimate parking demand along highway segments.Third, demand estimates from the preliminary model were sent to States and State partners for review and comment.Fourth, the model estimates were refined, based on the partnerships’ comments, and the model was re-calibrated based on additional field data. Fifth, the new estimates were sent back to the partners for a final round of review and comment. Sixth, model estimates were refined based on the partners’ comments, and the results of the analyses were used in this report.

Note that the results of these analyses were meant to assist in developing strategies and plans to reduce or better manage any shortages. The information was not intended to provide a sufficient level of detail to define the specific location and quantity of truck parking spaces required. The design-level detail required to complete this type of needs assessment was not practical within the time frame and resources of this study. However, the supply and demand information provided at the corridor level did fulfill the goal of identifying system-level problems and needs that can serve as the bases for the formulation of policy alternatives and the conducting of a more detailed study at a later time. In fact, many of the partners used the supply and demand results described above for exactly this purpose.

4.2 Determining Current Level of Parking Space Utilization

The analysis conducted for this study included information compiled for 49 States and addressed all the Interstate highways as well as a significant share of non-Interstate highways that comprise the NHS. Detailed modeling analysis and truck parking space inventory were conducted for nearly 520 individual roadway segments. By comparing the estimated demand with the inventoried supply, it was possible to determine if a shortage of truck parking existed along a highway segment.

To simplify the interpretation, a rating system was developed to summarize the results of the supply and demand analysis. Dividing the estimated demand by the estimated supply for both public and private parking spaces formed a demand/supply ratio that indicated the level of utilization statewide.[b] A ratio less than one indicates that demand is smaller than supply and an apparent surplus of spaces exists, while a ratio greater than one indicates that demand outstrips supply and there is an apparent shortage.

Because of the uncertainty of the demand and supply estimates, using one as an exact cutoff for indicating whether shortages exist is not appropriate. Instead, the demand/supply ratios have been grouped into three categories, as indicated in table 15 .The first category, “Surplus Spaces,” indicates that the number of parking spaces available is likely to exceed the peak demand. The second category, “Sufficient Spaces,” indicates that the peak demand and the supply of parking spaces are nearly the same. The third category, “Shortage of Spaces,” indicates that overcrowding is likely. Because the estimates of truck parking supply indicate a range of parking spaces, several different supply values could be used in determining this ratio; the results in this report use the maximum estimated truck parking spaces.

Table 15. Demand/supply ratio categories.

Demand/Supply Ratio
Parking Space Utilization
Less than 0.9
Surplus Spaces
0.9 to 1.1
Sufficient Spaces
More than 1.1>
Shortage of Spaces

Table 16 contains a national summary of the results using the parking space utilization classification method. These results provide a general sense of the level of unmet needs for commercial truck parking. A total of 35 States are rated as having a shortage of spaces at public rest areas, while a total of 8 States are rated as having shortages at commercial truck stops and travel plazas. When looking at a combined rating (i.e., the sum of demand and supply for both public rest areas and commercial truck stops and travel plazas), a total of 12 States are rated as having shortages.

Table 16. Parking space utilization: National summary of demand/supply ratio along interstates and other NHS routes carrying more than 1,000 trucks per day.

Parking Space Utilization
Public Rest Areas
Commercial Truck Stops1
Total
Shortage of Spaces
35
8
12
Sufficient Spaces
4
6
8
Surplus Spaces
10
34
29
1This column excludes Alaska, which did not report on the number of parking spaces available at commercial truck stops and travel plazas.

Table 17 provides a State-by-State breakdown of these results. The “Ratio” column lists the demand/supply ratio, and the “Category” column lists the parking space utilization category for each State. The “Public” column refers to the demand/supply ratio for parking spaces at public rest areas, the “Commercial” column refers to the demand/supply ratio for parking spaces at commercial truck stops and travel plazas, and the “Total” column refers to the ratio for parking spaces at both types of facilities.

In addition to determining where truck parking shortages currently exist along the NHS, the study also attempted to estimate where future shortages might exist. Table 7 lists the expected annual growth rate for the truck parking space demand for each of the 49 States considered in this study, with values ranging from 0.5 to 4.4 percent. In section 3.0 , the expected annual growth rate for the supply of truck parking spaces is estimated at about 1 percent for public spaces and about 6.5 percent for commercial spaces. Because the estimated growth rates for parking supply are national averages and local growth will vary considerably, it is not appropriate to use these figures to generate State-specific estimates of the future adequacy of truck parking space supply. However, the following observations can be made:

  • The expected growth in supply of public spaces is not projected to match the expected growth in demand. As there is already an apparent shortage of public spaces in many States, this projection indicates that the shortage of public spaces will worsen in the future unless steps are taken to either 1) increase the growth rate of public spaces or 2) increase the interchangeability between public and commercial spaces so that the relative demand for public spaces decreases.
  • The expected growth in supply of commercial spaces is projected to exceed the expected growth in demand, indicating that the surplus of commercial spaces is likely to increase in the future.

Table 17. Parking space utilization: Demand/supply ratio along interstates and other NHS routes carrying more than 1,000 trucks per day.

Public
Commercial
Total
State
Ratio
Category
Ratio
Category
Ratio
Category
Alabama
2.29
Shortage
0.79
Surplus
0.93
Sufficient
Alaska1
0.05
Surplus
N/A
N/A
N/A
Surplus
Arizona
1.88
Shortage
0.43
Surplus
0.53
Surplus
Arkansas
5.20
Shortage
0.79
Surplus
0.99
Sufficient
California
4.10
Shortage
2.03
Shortage
2.29
Shortage
Colorado
4.55
Shortage
0.94
Sufficient
1.15
Shortage
Connecticut
1.71
Shortage
1.66
Shortage
1.67
Shortage
Delaware
2.94
Shortage
2.14
Shortage
2.28
Shortage
Florida
0.99
Sufficient
0.77
Surplus
0.81
Surplus
Georgia
1.88
Shortage
0.64
Surplus
0.75
Surplus
Idaho
3.00
Shortage
1.25
Shortage
1.44
Shortage
Illinois
2.63
Shortage
1.16
Shortage
1.33
Shortage
Indiana
1.77
Shortage
0.99
Sufficient
1.10
Shortage
Iowa
0.86
Surplus
0.44
Surplus
0.50
Surplus
Kansas
1.24
Shortage
0.44
Surplus
0.51
Surplus
Kentucky
2.23
Shortage
1.03
Sufficient
1.17
Shortage
Louisiana
9.32
Shortage
0.75
Surplus
0.96
Sufficient
Maine
1.81
Shortage
0.55
Surplus
0.66
Surplus
Maryland
2.01
Shortage
0.87
Surplus
1.00
Sufficient
Massachusetts
6.16
Shortage
1.51
Shortage
1.83
Shortage
Michigan
0.81
Surplus
0.69
Surplus
0.72
Surplus
Minnesota
1.63
Shortage
0.65
Surplus
0.75
Surplus
Mississippi
2.93
Shortage
0.60
Surplus
0.73
Surplus
Missouri
4.28
Shortage
0.72
Surplus
0.89
Surplus
Montana
1.18
Shortage
0.50
Surplus
0.58
Surplus
Nebraska
0.95
Sufficient
0.30
Surplus
0.35
Surplus
Nevada
2.62
Shortage
0.46
Surplus
0.57
Surplus
New Hampshire
0.84
Surplus
0.35
Surplus
0.40
Surplus
New Jersey
0.69
Surplus
0.41
Surplus
0.45
Surplus
New Mexico
15.62
Shortage
0.65
Surplus
0.83
Surplus
New York
1.43
Shortage
0.87
Surplus
0.95
Sufficient
North Carolina
1.98
Shortage
0.58
Surplus
0.69
Surplus
North Dakota
0.72
Surplus
0.31
Surplus
0.36
Surplus
Ohio
2.35
Shortage
0.96
Sufficient
1.12
Shortage
Oklahoma
1.41
Shortage
0.37
Surplus
0.45
Surplus
Oregon
1.89
Shortage
0.67
Surplus
0.79
Surplus
Pennsylvania
1.82
Shortage
0.54
Surplus
0.65
Surplus
Rhode Island
0.63
Surplus
1.35
Shortage
1.07
Sufficient
South Carolina
1.55
Shortage
0.50
Surplus
0.59
Surplus
South Dakota
0.54
Surplus
0.50
Surplus
0.51
Surplus
Tennessee
1.58
Shortage
0.63
Surplus
0.74
Surplus
Texas
12.70
Shortage
1.18
Shortage
1.49
Shortage
Utah
1.64
Shortage
0.53
Surplus
0.62
Surplus
Vermont
0.15
Surplus
0.20
Surplus
0.19
Surplus
Virginia
2.16
Shortage
0.80
Surplus
0.93
Sufficient
Washington
1.79
Shortage
1.02
Sufficient
1.14
Shortage
West Virginia
0.92
Sufficient
0.92
Sufficient
0.92
Sufficient
Wisconsin
0.97
Sufficient
0.35
Surplus
0.41
Surplus
Wyoming
0.56
Surplus
0.39
Surplus
0.42
Surplus
1Alaska did not report the number of commercial parking spaces; however, the number of public spaces exceeded the estimated total demand.

4.3 Results from the Driver Survey

Several hundred drivers provided written and verbal comments, both solicited and unsolicited, regarding the availability of truck parking. Overwhelmingly, drivers remarked that there are not enough parking spaces at either public rest areas or commercial truck stops and travel plazas, particularly during the overnight hours. Drivers also reported that more parking is needed near metropolitan areas and in certain regions of the country (e.g., Northeast, Southern California, Northwest).

Drivers were asked how frequently they encounter available parking at public and commercial truck parking facilities (table 18). Among the overall sample, only 11 percent of respondents indicated that they frequently or almost always find available parking at public rest areas and only 34 percent of respondents reported that they frequently or almost always find available parking at commercial truck stops. Forty-eight percent of respondents indicated that they only rarely or almost never find available parking at public rest areas, while only 16 percent reported that they only rarely or almost never find available parking at commercial truck stops.

Table 18. Frequency with which drivers find available parking at public rest areas and commercial truck stops.

Type of Facility
Almost Never
Rarely
Sometimes
Frequently
Almost Always
Public Rest Areas
14%
34%
41%
9%
2%
Commercial Truck Stops
4%
12%
51%
25%
9%

Drivers also had the opportunity to rate how often their next stop (e.g., shipper or receiver) has available parking. The most frequently reported response (by 40 percent of the sample) was that sometimes their next stop has available parking. Thirty-seven percent of drivers reported that their next stop has available parking rarely or almost never. Twenty-three percent indicated that their next stop has available parking frequently or almost always.

5.0 ACTIVITIES TO REDUCE SHORTAGES

5.1 Introduction

This section of the report presents a compilation of recommended actions for addressing commercial truck parking shortages. The first set of recommendations was obtained through discussions with various stakeholder groups. These are groups that, in general, represent the national stakeholder constituencies, such as the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) [enforcement] and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) [safety community]. These stakeholders help provide a high-level, national view on the issue and possible solutions.

The second set of recommendations was provided by the participating State partnerships. The recommendations, while often mirroring the national-level recommendations, also focus on State- and corridor-specific solutions – that is, the “grass roots” level.

5.2 Rest Area Forum

On June 29-30, 1999, FHWA hosted a two-day Rest Area Forum in Atlanta, GA. More than 70 representatives from State DOTs and enforcement agencies, the motor carrier industry, commercial drivers, commercial truck stop operators, safety advocates, and other interested stakeholders participated in the Forum, which was intended to achieve the following objectives:

  • Review issues surrounding the provision of parking for commercial drivers by both States and commercial truck stop operators.
  • Describe and document success stories and best practices.
  • Consider means to provide real-time information on the availability of truck parking spaces and information on driver fatigue.
  • Identify actions and initiatives, including legislative actions and funding initiatives, that could be undertaken to address parking shortages.

A number of issues were identified by the participants, and recommendations were developed for the seven highest-ranked issues, which are presented below, but not in any ranked order.

  • Improve safety and security at public rest areas and commercial truck stops and travel plazas.
  • Provide low-interest loans, tax incentives, and public-private partnerships to support commercial truck stops (i.e., meet parking space demand through the private sector).
  • Use alternative parking sites such as weigh stations and park-and-ride lots.
  • Improve the provision and location of public rest areas and commercial truck stops (e.g., spacing standards between parking areas).
  • Improve financial support for improving and expanding public rest areas, and make this a safety-related issue.
  • Eliminate time limits on parking at public rest areas. Alternately, enforce time limits to increase the availability of spaces at public rest areas.
  • Increase driver education and information on causes of fatigue and on the availability and location of available parking spaces.

These recommendations served as a resource for identifying a number of questions that were included in the survey.(2) It is interesting to note that the findings of the current study, which draws upon a significantly larger (and different) population than that included in the Rest Area Forum, are consistent with and support these recommendations. The Rest Area Forum report also noted that the recommendations developed were not necessarily consensus recommendations and that various stakeholders disagreed on approaches to addressing shortages of commercial vehicle parking spaces. The results of the current study support this lack of consensus, in particular on the issue of whether parking space shortages should be addressed by expanding public rest areas or relying on the private sector to meet demand.

5.3 National Stakeholder Discussions

During the course of the study, FHWA provided the study team with a detailed listing of stakeholder groups that comprise the “national stakeholder” interests. These groups represent the enforcement community, the motor carrier industry, commercial truck stop operators, shippers and receivers, and the safety community. The intent of discussing truck parking space availability issues with stakeholders was to obtain a balanced portrayal of how the issue of truck parking space availability affects the various interest groups.

Each group was contacted by telephone to discuss the proposed interview. Groups were then given a list of questions and issues and either provided written comments or agreed to telephone discussions.As can be seen, the groups share a common desire to solve the truck parking problem. As outlined in this list, a variety of positions were proposed, including expanding public parking, changing regulations and financing, and increasing the number of commercial truck stop and travel plaza spaces:

  • Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety. Expansion of commercial facilities represents the best solution to the truck parking problem.
  • America’s Road Team (ART). ART supports 1) increased State and Federal funding for public rest stop spaces and 2) encourages the use of existing facilities, such as weigh stations and park-and-ride lots, for parking, where possible.
  • American Trucking Association (ATA) Foundation. ATA believes that DOT should lead a concerted effort to fund the construction of additional truck parking using existing funding sources. DOT should also explore technology for improving the efficiency of existing resources. ATA does not advocate one method of eliminating the shortfall over another. Instead, ATA wants organizations and agencies to do everything possible to improve the availability of parking spaces at both public and commercial facilities for truck drivers.
  • Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). CVSA has been active on this issue for two years. CVSA believes that there is a shortage of parking spaces and that the next reauthorization should include a Federal mandate to use highway funds to construct rest stop facilities if a need is demonstrated and proven. CVSA believes the permissive language on this issue is not strong enough and that a formal mandate is needed. A Federalmandate and funding for building new or additional parking facilities would be the most effective means of addressing the problem. Additional short-term solutions include the following:
    • Change State policies that restrict the amount of time truckers may stay in public rest areas.
    • Use inspection and weigh station facilities during off-hours to provide additional parking.
    • Use satellite parking to provide additional parking spaces.
    • Communicate information on space availability and facility locations to drivers. [Maryland is currently doing this through variable message signs (VMSs), the Web, and brochures.]
  • Motor Freight Carriers Association (MFCA). MFCA stands behind the results of the ATA Foundation rest area/truck stop study, “Making Space for Safety,” as far as the truck parking shortage is concerned. They report, “while our segment of the industry does not use public rest areas or commercial truck stops and travel plazas for long-term parking, we do believe that more can be done to encourage public/private partnerships to help solve the parking shortage.”
  • NATSO, Inc., the Association representing America’s Travel Plazas and Truck Stops. NATSO believes that the commercial truck stop industry has in the past adequately met the needs of the professional driver and will do so in the future. NATSO believes professional trucking companies and drivers should bear the responsibility of finding safe, legal places to store their equipment. In that regard, NATSO recommends the following:
    • Increase yearly truck registration fees with the stipulation that these special funds can be used by States only on initiatives to address the truck parking issue.
    • Implement a program that allows States to close rest areas in locations that are well served by private-sector businesses and shift funds to areas in which additional development is desirable.
    • Remove cost-prohibitive road improvement requirements imposed by State DOTs upon developers attempting to open new facilities.
  • Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA). OOIDA feels this is a problem so important to the industry that meaningful solutions will be found only through cooperation among all the stakeholders. Actions that OOIDA believes would be beneficial include the following:
    • Build more and bigger public rest areas.
    • Provide designated “trucks only” public rest areas.
    • Increase the number of overall spaces.
    • Accommodate longer (e.g., 53-ft) trailers.
    • Stop closing existing public rest areas.
  • Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT). PATT believes that a Federal mandate and funding for building new or additional parking facilities would be the most effective means of addressing the problem. Additional solutions include the following:
    • Provide low-interest loans for developing truck parking facilities (absent direct funding or as a supplement).
    • Explore public-private partnerships for developing additional rest facilities. An example would be a “super lot” in which a vendor or contractor would develop a facility on a State-provided land. Another example would be to have highway contractors who are working in an area in which a truck rest stop is located be available to help build additional parking spaces at that rest stop.
    • Review individual State policies that restrict the amount of time truckers may stay in public rest areas.
  • Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA). PMAA feels that ensuring that drivers get adequate sleep is the responsibility of the companies that use their services and that the best way to address parking shortages is for the trucking industry to seek out alternative solutions. For example, setting schedules so that drivers do not necessarily arrive in congested areas during peak times would help reduce overcrowding in some locations. The trucking industry could develop consortia to locate available parking areas in which inadequate parking currently exists, and large carriers could seek out parking areas within reasonable distances of thruways and contract for parking at those facilities. Trucking companies could also work with their customers, shippers, and receivers to allow trucks to park at their facilities.
  • Four other stakeholders [American Automobile Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Industrial Transportation League (NITL), and National Private Truck Council (NPTC] were contacted but did not have an official position on the truck parking issue.

5.4 Actions Recommended by The State Partnerships

Partners provided a set of recommended actions to solve any parking shortfalls that have been identified either through this study or as a result of other similar studies conducted in recent years for their States. These actions fall into six broad categories, as listed below.

  • Actions to expand or improve public rest areas.
  • Actions to expand or improve commercial truck stops and travel plazas.
  • Actions to encourage the formation of public-private partnerships.
  • Actions to educate or inform drivers about available spaces.
  • Actions to change parking enforcement rules.
  • Actions to conduct additional studies.

Table 19 summarizes the actions that have either recently been completed or are currently being implemented in each State. Table 20 summarizes the actions by each State partnership for future implementation. The sections that follow describe in more detail some of the specific suggestions or comments associated with each of these six categories.

Table 19 . Summary of recent or current actions pursued by State partners.

State
Expand Public Facilities
Expand Commercial Facilities
Foster Partnerships
Improve Information
Enforcement Changes
Additional Studies
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
check mark
check mark
Arkansas
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
California
check mark
check mark
check mark
Colorado
check mark
check mark
Connecticut
check mark
check mark
Delaware
Florida
check mark
check mark
Georgia
check mark
check mark
check mark
Idaho
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
Illinois
check mark
check mark
check mark
Indiana
check mark
check mark
Iowa
check mark
check mark
Kansas
Kentucky
check mark
Louisiana
check mark
check mark
check mark
Maine
check mark
Maryland
check mark
check mark
Massachusetts
check mark
Michigan
check mark
Minnesota
Mississippi
check mark
Missouri
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
Montana
check mark
check mark
Nebraska
check mark
Nevada
check mark
check mark
check mark
New Hampshire
New Jersey
check mark
New Mexico
check mark
New York
check mark
North Carolina
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
North Dakota
Ohio
check mark
check mark
check mark
Oklahoma
Oregon
check mark
check mark
Pennsylvania
check mark
check mark
Rhode Island
check mark
check mark
check mark
South Carolina
check mark
South Dakota
Tennessee
check mark
check mark
Texas
check mark
Utah
Vermont
check mark
Virginia
check mark
check mark
check mark
Washington
check mark
West Virginia
check mark
Wisconsin
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
Wyoming
check mark
check mark
check mark
Note: Checks denote States reporting recent or current actions.

Table 20. Summary of future actions recommended by State partners.

State
Expand Public Facilities
Expand Commercial Facilities
Foster Partnerships
Improve Information
Enforcement Changes
Additional Studies
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
check mark
check mark
Arkansas
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
California
check mark
check mark
check mark
Colorado
check mark
check mark
Connecticut
check mark
Delaware
check mark
check mark
Florida
check mark
check mark
Georgia
check mark
check mark
check mark
Idaho
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
Illinois
check mark
check mark
Indiana
check mark
check mark
check mark
Iowa
check mark
Kansas
Kentucky
check mark
Louisiana
check mark
check mark
check mark
Maine
check mark
Maryland
check mark
check mark
Massachusetts
check mark
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
check mark
Missouri
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
Montana
check mark
Nebraska
check mark
Nevada
check mark
check mark
check mark
New Hampshire
New Jersey
check mark
New Mexico
check mark
New York
check mark
North Carolina
check mark
check mark
check mark
North Dakota
check mark
Ohio
check mark
check mark
Oklahoma
Oregon
check mark
check mark
Pennsylvania
check mark
check mark
Rhode Island
check mark
check mark
South Carolina
check mark
South Dakota
check mark
Tennessee
check mark
check mark
Texas
check mark
Utah
Vermont
check mark
Virginia
check mark
check mark
check mark
Washington
check mark
West Virginia
check mark
Wisconsin
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
check mark
Wyoming
check mark
check mark
check mark
Note: Checks denote States planning or considering future actions.

5.4.1 Actions to Expand or Improve Rest Areas

Thirty-two States indicated that they were currently taking or had recently taken actions to expand or improve the public rest area facilities as a strategy to increase the availability of adequate parking for trucks, and five additional States indicated an intention to do so in the future. The recommendations on how to expand public facilities included the following:

  • Construct new public rest area facilities with additional truck parking spaces. Consider developing truck-only parking facilities. Raise the priority of public rest area construction by making it a safety-related issue.
  • Add new truck spaces to existing public rest areas as part of scheduled rest area reconstruction or rehabilitation. Redesign and reconfigure rest areas to increase parking and improve commercial vehicle circulation through the lot. Also, convert parallel parking to pull-through parking for added driver convenience.
  • Convert closed public rest areas into parking facilities, and consider designating these facilities for truck-only parking.
  • Investigate the use of Federal funds for maintaining public rest areas. Explore alternative financing of public rest area construction. Develop pilot projects for generating revenue to keep public rest areas open.
  • Partner with other State agencies, such as the Department of Tourism, to incorporate truck parking needs into the development of new tourist information sites.
  • Review and expand security at public rest areas by providing call boxes, cameras, increased law enforcement, etc.
  • Identify locations where commercial vehicle parking can be combined with ports of entry, weigh stations, or police substations. Consider exempting trucks from enforcement actions to encourage the use of these sites for parking by fatigued drivers.
  • Construct turnouts in rural sections of Interstate for parallel parking by commercial trucks.
  • Upgrade facilities currently closed during off-season to be open year round.
  • Improve geometric design at interchanges to increase convenience to drivers choosing to exit. For example, increase turning radii, widen narrow bridges, place traffic signals where warranted, and add turning lanes to ease access and egress to commercial truck stops and travel plazas.

5.4.2 Actions to Expand or Improve Commercial Truck Stops and Travel Plazas

Eighteen States indicated that they were currently taking or had recently taken actions to help expand or improve commercial truck stops and travel plazas, and 15 of these States expressed an interest in continuing to do so in the future [c] Six additional States (Delaware, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming) indicated that they intended to rely on the private sector to provide additional commercial truck parking along overcrowded corridors. Growth estimates provided by the NATSO Foundation indicated that the number of private spaces has increased by an average of 6.5 percent per year over the last several years. If this rate continues, much of the private demand can be accommodated by the anticipated growth in private spaces.

5.4.3 Actions to Encourage Formation of Public-Private Partnerships

Six States indicated that they were currently taking or had recently taken actions to encourage formation of public-private partnerships to increase the availability of adequate parking for trucks, and five of these States expressed an interest in continuing to do so in the future. The recommendations on how to encourage formation of public-private partnerships included the following:

  • Create working groups between public and private sectors to develop new parking and explore options to overcome barriers to cooperation.
  • Work with the private sector to redevelop or construct new public rest areas with direct access to the Interstate.
  • Provide low-interest loans or grants to commercial truck stops and travel plazas to increase capacity.
  • Construct State-owned lots adjacent to commercial truck stops and travel plazas and enter into agreements to lease or maintain the lots.
  • Work with owners of commercial truck stops to help them promote the availability of parking in large lots close to the Interstate highway (e.g., provide signage on the highway).

5.4.4 Actions to Educate or Inform Drivers about Available Spaces

Seventeen States indicated that they were currently taking or had recently taken actions to better educate or inform drivers about available parking spaces, and 16 of these States expressed an interest in continuing to do so in the future. States suggested that the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) infrastructure may provide real-time information on the availability of parking to drivers. In addition, States suggested that drivers be informed of the importance of complying with HOS rules to encourage fatigued drivers to pull off the road. Specific recommendations offered by the States included the following:

  • Educate drivers on the safety benefits of rest and encourage them to use available spaces. For example, provide safety information (e.g., through brochures and public service announcements) to both drivers and trucking companies about the relationship between driver fatigue and accidents to encourage fatigued drivers to get off the road.
  • Develop ITS deployments that provide drivers with real-time information on the location and availability of parking spaces. For example, investigate using cellular phones and radio frequencies to broadcast parking locations and availability to drivers.
  • Investigate using mailings related to credentials administration for the International Registration Plan (IRP) and the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) as a means of distributing information on the location and type of parking spaces within the base State to participating motor carriers.
  • Publish and distribute a “trucker’s map” that pinpoints parking facilities for drivers.
  • Initiate a program that informs drivers of State-approved parking facilities. Such facilities may have security, lighting, and other services that will encourage drivers to use existing spaces.
  • Use both static and real-time signage to provide drivers with information about availability and location of public and private parking spaces.

5.4.5 Actions to Change Parking Enforcement Rules

Five States indicated that they recently had implemented or may in the future implement changes in parking regulations and other development-related regulations related to commercial vehicle parking. Specific recommendations offered by the States included the following:

  • Implement more stringent enforcement of parking rules to remove vehicles from unsafe locations such as interchange ramps.
  • Change parking limits to permit trucks more time to park at public rest areas.
  • Encourage local government and business support for constructing and operating commercial truck stop facilities in or near their community industrial and business parks (i.e., zoning). The “Not in My Backyard” syndrome has made it difficult to gain this local support. This issue has become a major problem in the development of new commercial truck stops and public rest area facilities near the boundaries of larger cities.
  • Encourage better recognition or credit and tax incentives for companies and terminal operators who provide “truck staging area” facilities for pickup and delivery activities with 24-hour access, parking, sanitation, and security. This could be promoted at both the State and national levels.
  • Promote building requirements for future warehouse and delivery facilities to incorporate truck parking and staging facilities as part of their development/building permit process. Encourage public/private partnerships to fund or offset these increased costs. This could be promoted at both the State and local levels.

5.4.6 Actions to Conduct Additional Studies

Eight States indicated that they recently had conducted or may in the future conduct additional studies on the adequacy of parking for commercial vehicles to refine the results emerging from the Section 4027 study and to develop more detailed strategies targeted at specific locations.

One State will be pursing more detailed truck parking supply and demand studies at the State and regional levels on specific, heavily traveled truck corridors. The methodology used for the national study will be modified. Field interviews with truckers could be added to make the results of these studies more useful as planning tools for developing measures to address identified parking problems.

Another State suggested that a multi-State committee be established to evaluate alternatives and recommend solutions that would address “on-time deliveries.” Many States noted that truck parking demand at certain locations is a reflection of trucks “staging” to provide just-in-time delivery.

6.0 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

6.1 Study Summary

Section 4027 of the TEA-21 requires:

…a study to determine the location and quantity of parking facilities at commercial truck stops and travel plazas and public rest areas that could be used by motor carriers to comply with Federal hours of service rules. The study shall include an inventory of current facilities serving the National Highway System, analyze where shortages exist or are projected to exist, and propose a plan to reduce the shortages.

This report, which has been prepared in cooperation with research entities representing motor carriers, the travel plaza industry, and commercial motor vehicle drivers, presents the findings of the Section 4027 study. These findings include results of a national driver survey, estimates of truck parking demand generated by a demand model, estimates of truck parking supply generated by a national inventory of truck parking facilities, and comments and recommendations on the issue of truck parking from State partnerships and national stakeholders. Sections 2.0 through 5.0 of this report describe the detailed results of this study, which are summarized in the list below:

  • Only 11 and 34 percent, respectively, of truck drivers surveyed in the national driver survey indicated that they frequently or almost always find parking available at public rest areas and at commercial truck stops and travel plazas. Nearly half reported rarely or almost never finding available parking at public rest areas. Fewer than half of the truck drivers indicated that they frequently or almost always find any of the following features at truck parking facilities: parking convenient to the highway, parking facilities with the needed amenities, parking that allows adequate time, parking with enough room to drive in and out, and parking spaces used only by trucks. For each feature, about 40 percent of respondents indicated that they sometimes find that feature, and the remainder indicated that they rarely or almost never find that feature. The survey results indicate that truck drivers do perceive that there is a problem with the adequacy of available truck parking.
  • An analysis of the driver surveys indicated that drivers prefer commercial truck stops and travel plazas for most activities that require them to park, but they prefer public rest areas when stopping for taking a quick nap. Weighting these results by the relative time spent on each activity indicated that 23 percent of the demand for truck parking is at public rest areas and 77 percent of the demand is for parking at commercial truck stops and travel plazas. This split is a key element in understanding the adequacy of truck parking because in many areas where there is an apparent shortage of spaces at public rest areas, there is an apparent surplus at commercial truck stops and travel plazas. One way to address the shortage of public parking spaces is to take steps to shift the demand to the available private spaces.
  • The national survey of truck parking spaces identified 31,249 spaces at 1,771 public facilities (e.g., public rest areas, pull-offs, and weigh stations) and between 167,881 and 284,601 spaces at 3,382 commercial facilities. The demand model estimated a total demand for 66,067 spaces at public facilities and 221,249 spaces at commercial facilities. While the estimated demand for parking spaces at public facilities far outstrips the supply, the supply at commercial facilities seems sufficient to meet the current demand.
  • A total of between 182,225 and 288,995 parking spaces was identified along Interstate highways, compared to an estimated demand for 245,389 truck parking spaces. A total of between 16,558 and 26,855 parking spaces was identified along non-Interstate highways, compared to an estimated demand for 41,927 spaces. The total supply of parking spaces along Interstate highways seems to match the estimated demand, while the total supply along non-Interstate highways falls far short of the estimated demand. Part of the discrepancy along non-Interstate highways may be accounted for by the greater access to other locations at which to park (e.g., restaurants and shopping malls) along non-Interstate highways than along Interstate highways.
  • An analysis of the supply and demand for truck parking indicates that 35 States have a current shortage of parking at public facilities, while only 8 States have a shortage at commercial facilities, and 12 States have a shortage when both types of facilities are considered together. In some cases, the apparent shortage may be mitigated by regional factors (e.g., Delaware could be considered a “pass-through” State, and the parking shortage in Delaware may be offset by parking surpluses in nearby States). In other cases, however, no apparent mitigation exists.
  • The growth rate of demand for truck parking was estimated to be 2.7 percent annually, while the growth rate of supply of public spaces was estimated to be 1 percent annually, and the growth rate of private spaces was estimated to be 6.5 percent annually. These estimates suggest that, if other factors that affect truck parking remain the same, the apparent shortage of spaces at public rest areas will worsen while a growing surplus of spaces at commercial truck stops will develop.
  • A few States restrict parking (e.g., place time restrictions for parking) at public rest areas, which can further exacerbate any supply shortages that may exist for parking at public facilities. At the same time, some States augment the parking spaces available at public rest areas with parking spaces at other public facilities such as weigh stations.
  • A number of factors indicate that the degree to which truck drivers use parking spaces at public rest areas and commercial truck stops and travel plazas interchangeably is limited. Responses to the driver survey indicate a preference for different facilities, depending on the reason for the stop. Field observational studies noted that parking spaces at public rest areas often fill up sooner than spaces at commercial facilities. The study team believes these differences arise for the following reasons: public rest areas typically offer more convenient access to the highway and more certainty of whether a parking space exists (because drivers can often observe the lot from the highway), while commercial truck stops and travel plazas typically offer more amenities. One way to shift demand from public rest areas to commercial truck stops and travel plazas would be to increase the convenience and certainty of finding parking spaces at commercial facilities.
  • Geographically, truck parking shortages appear to be more common in the Northeast and the Midwest.
  • A number of recommendations for addressing truck parking shortages were proposed by participants in the Rest Area Forum, national stakeholders, and State partnerships. Most of these recommendations fall into one of the following six categories: expand or improve public rest areas, expand or improve commercial truck stops, encourage formation of public-private partnerships, educate or inform drivers about available spaces, change parking enforcement rules, and conduct additional studies.

Although there is a consensus that the adequacy of truck parking is an important issue that must be addressed, there is wide disagreement both among the various stakeholder groups and among the States about the best approach to addressing the problem. Although the problem has national consequences, both the problem and the proposed solutions seem to be more local in nature. For example, some States have an apparent shortage of parking spaces while nearby States have an apparent surplus, and any shortages that do exist are often concentrated on a few sections of highway within a State. The solutions, too, can be local in nature, with some States proposing to leverage existing ITS initiatives to broadcast parking information, others proposing to open more parking facilities, and others relying on private industry to meet the demand. One point of agreement, however, is that the various agencies, organizations, and special interest groups worked together as part of the State partnerships and want to continue to work together to address this issue.

6.2 Interpretation of the Summary and Conclusions

The previous sections of this report provide detailed information about the adequacy of truck parking on the NHS. These results, when presented and viewed as a series of snapshots, tell only part of the story. Missing from that type of snapshot presentation is the bigger picture that surrounds the adequacy of commercial truck parking facilities serving the NHS. To wit: Is there a truck parking problem, and if so, what should be done about it? This section looks at the bigger picture by posing a series of questions whose answers are key to understanding and addressing the adequacy of truck parking and suggesting answers to these questions that are synthesized from the report findings. In particular, nearly all of the suggestions identified below are restatements of recommendations made by the State partners for the express purpose of establishing a starting framework for considering solutions to specific truck parking problems.

6.2.1 What problems are associated with an inadequate supply of truck parking spaces?

An inadequate supply of truck parking spaces can result in two negative consequences: (1) tired truck drivers may continue to drive because they have difficulty finding a place to park for rest, and (2) truck drivers may choose to park at unsafe locations, such as the shoulder of the road and exit ramps, if they are unable to find available parking. Both of these consequences generate a safety hazard for the truck driver and for other drivers using the NHS. However, any program meant to address the problems of an inadequate supply of truck parking spaces must concentrate on a number of issues beyond simply providing additional parking spaces. For example, a Federal program that simply earmarks funds for each State to build new truck parking may not completely address the “big picture” need. Earmarking funds for every State may not be necessary if some States already have a sufficient supply of truck parking. Also, building spaces that have neither the convenience nor the amenities necessary to convince a truck driver to use the spaces would not help; tired truck drivers would either continue to drive to locate spaces with preferred amenities or would park in unsafe locations because of the greater convenience. Finally, parking spaces need to be adequately spaced so that a surplus of spaces is not developed in a select group of locations while other roadway segments continue to have an inadequate supply of spaces. Consequently, the analyses and conclusions in this report will regularly refer back to these issues.

6.2.2 Is there an adequate supply of truck parking spaces for the NHS?

In determining whether the supply of truck parking spaces is adequate, it is important to evaluate not only the total supply of truck parking, but also the distribution (i.e., Are spaces located at the places necessary to meet demand?) and type (i.e., Will truckers use the spaces?) of those parking spaces.

A key issue is to determine what types of parking spaces are available. That is, do the available spaces have the convenience and amenities necessary so that the driver will choose to use them? If these spaces do not meet the needs of a driver, the driver may choose to either drive tired or park on the shoulder. This fact leads to another key element in addressing this problem: a proposed solution must not only consider the number of available spaces, but must also consider the factors that influence truck drivers’ choices about where and when to park.

A second key issue is to determine whether the distribution and spacing of parking spaces address the factors that impact the need for these spaces. For example, an important factor impacting the demand for truck parking spaces is the HOS regulations, which place strict limits on the number of consecutive hours a truck driver may drive. If a driver has “used up” his hours, she/he is forced to either violate these regulations or find a place to rest. If there are no legal parking spaces available, the driver must either park at an unsanctioned location (e.g., an exit ramp) or continue to drive until a parking space is located. Similarly, a very tired driver must either find a parking space immediately or continue to drive while tired. This leads to the following observations about the truck parking problem with respect to distribution and spacing:

  • The problem of truck parking is, by its very nature, a local problem. A State or highway that has sufficient parking spaces, in general, can still have important stretches of highway with inadequate parking.
  • In the absence of an extreme abundance of truck parking spaces, the factors that influence truck parking must include some flexibility to alleviate truck parking problems. For example, because HOS regulations (or fatigue) place strict limits on the amount of time a driver may drive, drivers must have some flexibility in where they park. It may be safer for a highly fatigued driver to take a short nap on an exit ramp than to continue to drive. On the other hand, a driver who habitually parks on exit ramps may pose a greater safety hazard to himself and the general public than one who drives so as to avoid the necessity of parking on ramps.

The driver surveys, field observations, and demand model calculations all support the conclusion that there is a shortage of truck parking spaces at many locations in the United States and that this shortage is worse for parking at public rest areas than at commercial truck stops and travel plazas. Shortages also appear to be worse for non-Interstate highways, though the fact that those highways are often not access-controlled makes it more likely that other types of parking spaces (i.e., not at public rest areas or commercial truck stops or travel plazas) are used as supplemental parking.

The demand model provides a useful method for identifying locations at which parking shortages may exist, but further investigation is required to confirm the implications of the demand model. For example, the demand model does not consider the fact that demand generated in one section of a highway can often be safely met by supply in a nearby section or that a driver who is getting tired might stop early to park at a favored facility. Also, the demand model does not consider a number of local factors that can influence demand, such as a higher rate of parking near major distribution centers. Further research and refinement of the demand model could help sharpen the demand estimates made with the model. In the meantime, it should be used as only an indicator of potential shortages.

Finally, there is the question of the type of parking (public or private) that is available. Many field surveys have observed that drivers choose to park at overcrowded public rest areas or on the shoulder when parking is available at a nearby commercial truck stop or travel plaza. This could be caused by the uncertainty of finding parking at a nearby truck stop, the relative difficulty of entering and exiting a truck stop, or some other reason. If steps are taken to reduce the factors that make some truck drivers favor parking at public rest areas (or even on shoulders), then the commercial truck stop industry can be effective in addressing the need for truck parking. However, as long as truck drivers view these types of parking spaces differently, a need will exist for both types of parking spaces.

6.2.3 Is it appropriate for the State and Federal governments to take steps to address any inadequacies in truck parking, if they exist?

Even if there is a shortage of truck parking spaces, it may not be the responsibility of the State or Federal government to address the problem. Certain stakeholder groups have argued that expanding public parking for commercial vehicles amounts to a subsidy of the trucking industry and unfairly penalizes the commercial truck stops that serve it. Parallels have been drawn to the aviation industry, where Federal HOS regulations limit pilot flying time, but the Federal government does not help provide sleeping facilities for the pilots.

The other side of the issue is that tired truck drivers pose an imminent health risk to other drivers on the road and that governments have a prevailing interest to protect citizen-drivers by helping tired truck drivers find rest. This view is supported by the existence of citizen-led organizations that are lobbying the government to address this problem and by the media attention that this problem has drawn.

The clearest indication of whether the government has a role to play in addressing this issue comes directly from the comments of the stakeholders interviewed for this study. While different stakeholders prefer different roles for government, ranging from leveraging ITS technologies to better disseminate information about available parking spaces to building more and better public parking facilities, most stakeholders do agree that government should play a role. For example, a large number of State partner groups advocate a hybrid approach that involves the commercial industry working with the State and/or Federal government to help solve the parking problem.

6.2.4 How can locations with inadequate truck parking be identified?

The first step in alleviating parking shortages is to identify the locations at which those parking shortages exist. The demand model and supply inventory represent a good first step in achieving this goal. The primary limitations of this model, however, are that it does not consider a number of local factors that can affect local demand (e.g., proximity to distribution centers that results in truck drivers staging at parking facilities, proximity to other parking facilities that absorb demand, and consideration of travel patterns that affect the short-haul/long-haul ratio). Because of these limitations, the model should be used as a guideline for identifying possible locations of parking shortages that can be evaluated more carefully through additional study and field observations.

As a first step in this process, State governments can use their knowledge of local conditions to refine the model for local usage. For example, the model may estimate that the parking supply for an important North-South travel corridor is “at capacity.” Because the route of interest is an important long-distance travel corridor, however, the proportion of long-haul vehicles on the route is likely higher than that used in the model, which will result in a greater demand than that estimated by the model. Alternately, a route between two nearby population centers may generate an unusually high amount of short-haul commercial traffic, which will result in a smaller demand than that estimated by the model. In each case, model parameters can be calibrated specifically for these routes in order to generate more accurate demand estimates.

Once locations with possible shortages have been identified, field observations can be used to verify the shortage prior to implementation of any expensive plans to address the perceived shortage. These field observations should note not only signs of over-utilized parking facilities (e.g., parking above capacity at public rest areas and parking on shoulders), but also under-utilized parking facilities that may be nearby. Many field studies have already identified situations in which public rest areas were full and overflowing and trucks were parking on shoulders and exit ramps, but capacity still existed at nearby commercial truck stops and travel plazas. To identify the most cost-effective solution to a local truck parking problem, the field observations must identify existing resources that might be used to address the problem. Useful resources might include under-utilized parking at commercial truck stops and travel plazas; VMSs, radio broadcasts, and Intelligent Transportation Technology (e.g., Global Positioning System) to deliver real-time parking information and other public facilities on the highway (e.g., park-and-ride lots and weigh stations) that could be opened for parking at night. Several State partners have recommended that the Federal government facilitate this process by providing funds to conduct additional studies (e.g., field observations) where parking shortages are suspected. Furthermore, implementation guides can be developed to help standardize and increase the effectiveness of these studies, as can evaluation guides to help interpret the results of these studies for the purpose of formulating cost-effective plans for addressing the problem.

One of the most powerful features of the truck parking demand model is its ability to estimate future demand so that long-range plans can be formulated to accommodate this future demand. States could use this model to initially identify locations with possible parking shortages, then, based on local knowledge and field observations, refine the model to better reflect local conditions. The refined model could then be used to make long-term projections of parking demand so that appropriate long-term plans could be implemented.

6.2.5 How can inadequate parking at some locations be rectified?

When a parking shortage has been identified, a number of alternatives exist for how best to address that shortage. The alternatives that are best for a particular location will depend primarily on the local observations that were made while verifying the parking shortage. The following list describes some local observations that may be made and the possible solutions. The suggestions listed below are restatements of various suggestions made by the State partners consulted as part of the research for this report:

  • Trucks are observed parking on the shoulder, but parking is available both at nearby public rest areas and commercial truck stops and travel plazas. This may be an indication that truck drivers are not aware of the parking that is available, and a program to disseminate parking information (e.g., with fixed highway signage, with VMSs, and through the Internet) might help. Truck drivers may not be aware of the safety risks of parking on the shoulder, and educational brochures could be used to teach them about these safety risks. Perhaps local enforcement of safe parking practices is lax. While waking a tired driver and forcing him to drive to another location is probably not a good practice for enforcement officers, leaving a warning ticket that explains the penalty for parking illegally and informs the driver of nearby parking locations might be more appropriate.
  • Trucks are observed parking at overcrowded rest areas, but parking is available at nearby commercial truck stops and travel plazas. Truck drivers might not be aware of the available parking, and some of the suggestions mentioned above might help (e.g., VMSs, educational brochures). Truck drivers may favor the convenience of parking at a public rest area. If the exit ramps or roadways leading to nearby commercial truck stops and travel plazas are difficult to navigate, the State could choose to improve the exit ramps and improve access to the parking provided at the commercial facilities. Providing signage on corridors to inform drivers of the nearby facilities, and better yet, whether parking is currently available at those facilities, might also make use of the commercial facilities more appealing. If sufficient parking is available, the State can also make inappropriate parking less convenient by issuing tickets and levying fines.
  • Overcrowded truck parking facilities are observed near a major city. Truck drivers may be using the parking facilities as a staging area to ensure timely arrival at a loading/unloading facility. Perhaps the owners or managers of the loading/unloading facilities could be convinced to provide access to a staging area for trucks making deliveries.
  • Trucks are observed parking illegally, but legal parking is available nearby, information is available to guide truck drivers to the available parking, and access to this parking is convenient. In this case, truck drivers are likely parking illegally for the convenience of easy access to the highway, and enforcement activities could be used to make this illegal parking a less attractive option. Before beginning to enforce regulations more strictly, a warning period may be appropriate to give truck drivers a chance to become better acquainted with nearby parking facilities and the new enforcement practices.
  • Other nearby parking facilities are near or at capacity, but parking is available at a public rest area. In this case, it is likely that the physical layout of the rest area makes parking inconvenient for truck drivers. For example, a rest area may provide only parallel parking for commercial vehicles. The solution may be to reconfigure the rest area to better accommodate parking for commercial vehicles in accordance with published guidelines (i.e., American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) for designing safer and more trucker-friendly public rest areas.
  • All nearby parking facilities are near or at capacity. This situation is indicative of a true shortage of parking spaces, and a new source of parking must be located. However, correcting this problem does not necessarily entail construction of new public parking facilities. If other public facilities that are typically closed at night are available, parking at those facilities could be used to supplement the existing parking. A similar arrangement might be made with nearby commercial facilities, or the government could rent parking space from commercial facilities for nighttime use. Commercial truck stops or travel plazas may already have expansion plans that will meet the need, and local government can take steps to help facilitate those plans. Several State partner groups have suggested that the Federal government create a program to supply low-interest loans to develop new parking spaces at commercial facilities located where a demonstrated parking shortage exists. The State or local government may choose to expand existing public rest areas or construct new ones to meet the parking shortage.

6.3 Suggested Future Research

6.3.1 Distribution of Parking Supply

This report has presented a discussion of the model’s limitations and how the limitations hinder the ability of the model to accurately estimate demand at the segment level. While the demand model used in this study provides reasonable estimates of truck parking demand, improvements could be made to the model in the future to improve its ability to estimate parking at a more microscopic level. One specific limitation is that the model estimates demand for highway segments, ignoring variations in the parking supply that affect where drivers can park. Thus, there is currently a factor missing from the model that represents the geographic distribution of supply. Therefore, when field counts are compared to model estimates, as was done during calibration, it is not surprising that, in some cases, the estimates for one segment are too low, while the estimates for the next segment are too high. Additional research into how to add a factor to the model that represents the distribution of parking supply would make the model more accurate at the segment level and more useful for local planning purposes.

6.3.2 Commodity Flow Patterns

The model estimates parking demand as a result of truck drivers’ needs to rest and obtain services. It does not consider other factors that might influence demand in a particular region, such as typical commodity flows or the desire to “stage” close to a shipper/receiver for more quick and easy access. In contrast, the model distributes demand evenly across the network without consideration of these types of factors. Research into commodity flow patterns (particularly where flows are heavy) and the location of large distribution centers, ports, etc., could provide insight into “loading” factors that could be used in the model to help distribute the demand in a more realistic fashion. Additional research into commodity flow patterns is especially important because just-in-time delivery is becoming the standard for the movement of goods and products in the United States.

6.3.3 Short-Haul to Long-Haul Ratios

The report discussed the short-haul to long-haul ratio, factors that might affect its variability, and how the variability was modeled (by classifying each highway segment as either rural or urban and using a different value for the ratio for rural and urban segments). This methodology, however, may not capture the true variation in this parameter, and a more realistic model for estimating this ratio for each highway segment would likely result in better demand estimates. Therefore, it is recommended that future research be performed to understand how, when, and where the short-haul to long-haul ratio varies and what factors affect its variance. This could be accomplished by conducting origin-destination studies at a variety of geographic locations and at different times of the day.

6.3.4 Model Validation

As discussed in the report, the model was calibrated using data collected along nine corridors in four regions. The demand estimates from the calibrated model were examined for face validity by analysts and State partnerships; however, no formal validation process was performed. It is recommended that more field observational studies be conducted and that the results of these studies be used for model validation.

6.3.5 Public-Private Partnerships

A number of States recommended the development of public-private partnerships to assist with the development and financing of additional parking spaces. However, public-private partnerships often represent new ground for States, as these partnerships may involve pooling funding, sharing risk, and accommodating the need for the private sector to show profit on investments. These types of funding and risk-sharing arrangements often are at variance with more conventional State procurement practices and can be difficult for States to implement. Candidate issues associated with the creation of public-private partnerships for providing additional truck parking spaces include the following:

  • Differences between the public and private sectors’ perception of what is important—the private sector’s foremost goal is to make a profit. The public sector is concerned with improved operation of the transportation system.
  • Legal issues such as the following: Does the public sector agency have the legal authority to undertake a public-private partnership? Do Federal and State tax laws prohibit a public agency from receiving compensation from participation in a public-private partnership?

The study team believes that moving this particular recommendation forward will require additional research that documents how a successful public-private partnership that implemented a similar type of project succeeded. [d] This research would include such issues as the following:

  • Documenting how the partnership identified and addressed issues.
  • Identifying statutory and regulatory issues that need to be addressed (i.e., revenue sharing and procurement) prior to the partnership being able to implement the project.
  • Observing how the partnership blended public- and private-sector goals (i.e., profit motive versus providing needed services).

The expected outcome of this research would be a case-study document that States would be able to use as a reference document to guide the development of other public-private partnerships.

6.3.6 Providing Information on the Availability of Parking Spaces

A common complaint heard throughout the course of the study was that drivers have a difficult time obtaining information on the location and whereabouts of facilities with available parking. This complaint was mirrored by similar complaints from commercial truck stop and travel plaza operators that they often have available spaces while drivers are parking on exit ramps and road shoulders. In the driver interviews, drivers indicated that they prefer not to park in overcrowded lots where driving can be difficult. A number of States recommended that providing information to drivers on the location of available parking facilities would help address these issues and help drivers find a place to obtain adequate rest.

Many States are studying how this type of information can be made available to drivers. Maryland, for example, received a grant from the I-95 Corridor Coalition to study the feasibility of using VMSs to provide information to truckers on the location of available truck parking.

Additional research in this area might include the following:

  • Identifying which States are providing this type of information and how this information is being provided. This would include identifying what type of delivery system is being used by the State(s); the costs; the process used for obtaining, posting, and updating information; and who is responsible for system operation.
  • Identifying any legal or regulatory issues that would need to be addressed in providing this information. For example, does posting information about the availability of parking spaces at commercial truck stops and travel plazas constitute advertising on behalf of that facility? Does a State have to provide equal access to all commercial facilities?

The expected product of this research would be a “lessons learned” report documenting issues that States would need to consider in developing and implementing such a service.


[a] The NTSB identified 19 States that have laws limiting the amount of time that a vehicle can park at a public rest area, 16 of which were also identified in this study. Three of the States identified by the NTSB did not provide complete information to this study team on whether there were time limits for some rest areas within the State.

 

[b]The truck parking supply inventory described in section 3.0 estimated both a minimum and a maximum supply for each highway segment. For the purpose of determining the demand/supply ratio, the maximum value was used. This approach helped ensure that the demand/supply ratio provided a conservative estimate of the locations at which inadequate truck parking exists.

[c] The 18 States cited refers to those States that identified this strategy in their draft action plans. It does not necessarily reflect the total number of States in which individual truck stop operators plan to expand facilities.

[d]An excellent summary of the types of issues encountered in developing public-private partnerships and recommendations on how to address these is presented in the ITS America/DOT-sponsored study Choosing the Route to Traveler Information Systems: Decisions for Creating Public/Private Business Plans. Although this report focuses primarily on Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS), many of the issues will be similar to creating public-private partnerships for providing additional truck parking spaces.

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  2. Chen, K. J., Pécheux, K.K, Farbry, Jr., J. and Fleger, S.A. Commercial Vehicle Driver Survey: Assessment of Parking Needs and Preferences, Publication No. FHWA-RD-01-160, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., March 2002.
  3. Fleger, S.A., Haas, R.P, Trombly, J.W., Cross III, R.H., Noltenius, J.E., Pécheux, K.K. and Chen, K.J. Study of Adequacy of Commercial Truck Parking Facilities—Technical Report, Publication No. FHWA-RD-01-158, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., March 2002.
  4. Rest Area Forum: Summary of Proceedings. Publication No. FHWA-RD-00-034, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., June 1999.
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  6. Commercial Truck Usage Nighttime Parking Demand Analysis. Office of Technical Support, Site Development Unit, Minnesota Department of Transportation, St. Paul, MN, December 1998.
  7. Market Research Nighttime Truck Parking Length of Stay Study. Office of Technical Support, Site Development Unit, Minnesota Department of Transportation, St. Paul, MN, March 2000.
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  9. Hammer, M.C., McCartt, A.T. and Meherka, Y. Study of Use of Limited-Service Rest Areas by Commercial Vehicle Drivers in New York State, Contract No. MC-97-09-621, New York State Department of Transportation, Albany, NY, September 1997.
  10. Maze, T., Taylor, B.A., and Nelson, M. Commercial Vehicle Parking, Center for Transportation Research and Education Management Project 99-56, Center for Transportation Research and Education, Iowa State
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  12. Truck Rest Area Subcommittee—Report to Date. Source: Jocelyn Jones, Baltimore Metropolitan Council, Baltimore, MD, February 1999.
  13. Kentucky CVM Truck Parking Study. Kentucky Transportation Council, Frankfort, KY, August, 1999.
  14. Highway Performance Monitoring System Field Manual. Publication No. OMB 21250028, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., December 1999.
  15. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Pocketbook. J.J. Keller and Associates, Inc., Neenah, WI, 1996.
  16. Heavy Commercial Vehicle Flow Atlas of the United States National Highway System. University of Manitoba Transport Information Group, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, August 1998.
  17. Truck Stop Directory, Interstate America, Norcross, GA, 2000.
  18. Register, D., et al. Survey of Commercial Vehicle Traffic on Woodrow Wilson Bridge, Virginia Department of Transportation, Fairfax, VA, 1995.
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