Truckers say lack of parking spaces forces drivers in unsafe areas
Finding enough parking spaces is a big challenge for truck drivers, with some saying they’re forced to park in unsafe and illegal spots.
For years, Leo Anderson operated a big rig but parking issues drove him out of the trucking business.
“If you’re coming in at 9 or 10 o’clock at night, you’ll see trucks parked on the ramp trying to get a parking spot,” Anderson said. “Between new regulation of driving, trying to find parking and fuel prices, it wasn’t worth me driving trucks.”
Truck drivers have what they call parking anxiety, which is when they have to find a safe place to park and follow the federal law of stopping after driving for 11 hours.
“And if you keep rolling because you can’t find a truck spot, you are now in violation of federal regulation. That dings your record. It goes against you,” Minnesota Trucking Association President John Hausladen explained.
Hausladen says drivers are sometimes forced to stop on highway shoulders, exit ramps and abandoned properties when truck stops or rest areas are full. The lack of available truck parking has dire safety implications for both truck drivers and the motoring public.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), 98% of truck drivers regularly experience difficulty finding safe parking, a sharp uptick from the 75% figure reported just four years earlier. USDOT also found that the truck parking shortage exists in every state and region. With the volume of freight moved by trucks expected to increase by more than 21% over the next decade, Hausladen says this problem is only going to get worse.
Adding to the parking crunch, last year, a truck parking ban in Minneapolis city limits took effect due to clogged streets.
According to the 2019 Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) Statewide Truck Parking Study, some rest stops were 200% over capacity. However, the study notes that there were many instances of illegal ramp parking in rest areas that were not at capacity.
“We’ve written Governor (Tim) Walz and asking him to take leadership. There is now more money out there federally for truck parking, nontraditional pools,” said Hausladen. “I think what we’re asking the governor to do is push your team, ask them to be creative, ask them to stretch a bit on this very critical issue.”
The MnDOT truck study says, “There is a clear public need and business case for increased truck parking in Minnesota. While previous efforts identified this challenge at a high level, this study’s more in-depth quantitative analysis — validated by stakeholder outreach and fieldwork — identified not only statewide demand figures, but location-specific parking needs.”
In response, MnDOT says it has invested in expanding truck parking at key public rest areas. The agency also installed sensor systems that provide real-time information to truck drivers about parking availability. In addition, signboards were installed at major rest areas to give drivers live information about parking space availability, and information is provided through 511, MnDOT’s travel information system.
MnDOT says it also plans to conduct an update to the Statewide Truck Parking Study in 2025.
“Trucking is the lifeblood of the American economy,” Hausladen said. “So we need truck parking to keep everything rolling.”