By Nick Martin
Finding a place for drivers to park, rest, refuel and relax is not easy — and costs time and money.
According to the American Trucking Association, there are more than 11 drivers for every one parking spot, and drivers often burn up to an hour a day of driving time searching for a place to park. The lost time amounts to a $5,500 loss in annual driver compensation, or a 12% annual pay cut. 
Drivers who find themselves low on hours of service or are just ready to take a break after a long day, may resort to illegally parking in unauthorized locations such as on/off highway ramps if they can’t find a parking spot. As many as 58% of drivers admit to having done so.3
The lack of tractor trailer parking is also a safety concern. Undesignated parking areas may not have the space, adequate lighting, security and personal conveniences needed to park tractor trailers. They could be in remote, unsafe or illegal areas where drivers may be at risk for their own personal safety and the safety of their cargo and equipment.
4 tips to keep your drivers safe
Jason’s Law, federal legislation introduced in 2012, brought the issue to light. It mandated that states conduct annual surveys to gather information from drivers on rest locations and parking options.
The results from the Department of Transportation (DOT)’s 2020 survey motivated Congress to try to pass a law to spend $755 million for safer parking. This was reintroduced for the third time in 2021. Once approved, it will go a long way to increase parking spots for tractor trailers.
In the meantime, here are four best practices to increase safety and ease driver stress:
- Plan your routes. Drivers who plan their routes before departing spend less time looking for parking spots, use less fuel and money, and are less frustrated. This also may help avoid theft, heavy traffic and even low clearance bridges. Before you hit the road, preview the routes and determine the best way to get from point A to point B. While planning, schedule mandated stops in areas with safe parking, food and facilities.
Drivers could also receive suggested routes and potential parking areas from their fleet manager or dispatcher. Often, dispatchers may have more resources available to them than drivers who are on the road.
- Harness a Truck Parking Information Management System (TPIMS). In 2019, eight midwestern states began displaying open parking spots identified through in-ground sensors or cameras at rest areas. Parking availability can be found on roadway signs, smartphone apps, in-cab navigation systems and 511 travel websites, a national traveler’s resource set-up by the Department of Transportation. Other states have developed their own initiatives and those efforts continue.
- Pay for parking. Use apps to reserve parking spots. Costs can range from $15 to $30 a day, with weekly and monthly rates available. Reservations can be made the day of or in advance. Drivers can pay as they go, or fleet carriers
can reserve and pay for several spots a month for their drivers to use.
Frequently, these designated tractor-trailer parking areas are located on private land equipped with fencing, good lighting, security cameras and onsite personnel 24/7. Paid parking is a great alternative to other locations that are on a first-come, first-served basis and fill up quickly. Many paid parking locations also have easy-to-use apps available for your smartphone device.
- Practice the art of parking. Pulling forward or backing into a parking spot becomes easier with experience, saving you time and money. It also could reduce accidents in truck stops and rest areas.
With practice and experience comes confidence. Whenever you want to park your equipment, remember to:
- Take your time
- Use your 4-way flashers
- Get Out and Look (GOAL) when backing up
- Use an experienced spotter when available
- Roll windows down as weather permits
- Say no to the end row
- Park slowly while pulling forward or when backing up
Following these four best practices can help drivers and fleets experience less stressful, more efficient drives and ensure goods and drivers reach their destinations safely.
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 American Trucking Associations “ATA Lauds Congressional Effort to Improve Availability of Truck Parking,” March 29, 2021.
 U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration “Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey Results and Comparative Analysis,” March 11, 2020.
 CCJ By Randall Reilly “Bill introduced in both houses to address truck parking,” March 28, 2023.
 U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration “National Coalition on Truck Parking: Technology and Data Working Group – Truck Parking Availability Detection and Information Dissemination,” February 9, 2022.