Saturday, February 19, 2022

A Hail Mary, Lucky Horseshoes, And Some Really Good Trip Planning Are All That's Needed


Parking is a serious problem for truckers.  And it has been for years.  People want the items trucks bring, but they don't seem to want us parking anywhere near them.  NIMBYs, the whole lot of them.    

Even when we pre-plan our trip and have an idea where we’ll be stopping for the night, it doesn’t always work out. I’m the night driver of our team. And for some reason, I always seem to get lucky. My friend claims I have a golden horseshoe up my ass. Which, looking at the arc of my life, may be very, very true.  But not everyone has one.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t run into snags. Sometimes you plan to shut down at a particular truck stop for the night but you get there and it’s full. Sometimes you know there’s a rest area coming up but you get there and it’s closed. These are real-life everyday problems. I always leave myself extra time and never run my clock out. You don't even know the panic that sets in when you're watching your time run out and you're still driving to try to find a spot. One time I literally coasted into a parking lot with almost no time to spare.  Those were a few white-knuckle seconds, let me tell you.

As you can see in the photo - taken on Interstate-95 Northbound in St. Augustine, Florida - the “No Parking” signs are abundant. There must have been 40 signs there, on the outbound ramp of the rest area. The company we are leased to does not allow parking on ramps so we never have and never will do it, but lots of companies let their drivers park wherever they can find a spot.  When you see trucks parked on the shoulder of the highway, or on the ramps of exits or rest areas, you can bet your last dollar it's because they can't find an appropriate or safe place to park. 

The 2019 Jason’s Law Report found that 98% of truck drivers regularly experience problems finding safe parking.  The report is named after Jason Rivenburg, a driver who was robbed and murdered when he parked in an abandoned gas station in South Carolina.  He was the father of a two-year-old at the time, and his wife gave birth to twins just thirteen days after he was killed.  An absolute tragedy.  

It's a problem everywhere - in the northeast, California (which I think is the very worst), Atlanta, Chicago, most large cities.  But even in places where we have to pick up and deliver.  Some of these companies, which have plenty of parking at their facilities, don't even allow us to park there when waiting to load or unload.  They want their freight, they want it ASAP, yet they make things difficult for the drivers. 

In addition to the lack of parking, I personally have a problem with other vehicles using truck parking spots - like RVs, cars towing little trailers. Or a pickup truck that shouldn't be in the truck parking area at all.  I think they should all go to Walmart parking lots, where they are allowed and most often, we aren’t. We have to adhere to federally mandated Hours of Service. They don’t. When our time is up, it’s up. We need that spot. We are the ones who need safe, secure, available parking.

Truckers will never stop talking about the issues we face on a daily basis.  I just hope someone, somewhere, is listening.

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UPDATE:  This week, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg discussed the lack of safe truck parking.  I like Buttigieg.  And I'll like him even more if he's actually the one who finally does something about the parking situation.  Knowing who and what he's up against, I won't hold my breath.

But I will keep my butt cheeks squeezed tight - there's no way I'm letting that golden horseshoe slip out.  

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Beautiful Freak Of Nature
2020: Sorry, no post on this day.
2019: Ring The Bell For Tips
2018: Snacks & Bar
2017: So This Happened Today
2016: Agrarian
2015: Tied Off
2014: Seek And Ye Shall Find
2013: Frantically Trying To Get Back To Indonesia
2012: I’d Like Some Snow For Dessert
2011: Getting A Little Carried Away
2010: On A Need To Know Basis
2009: Something Has Gone Terribly Wrong
2008: Flying Into The Sun
2007: Riding The Rails
2006: Keeping Me Quiet With A Chocolate Snap
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!