Truck drivers give up nearly an hour of available driving time each day by parking early rather than risk not being able to find a spot further down the road, and that adds up to almost $5,000 in lost income annually, according to a new study.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has released the results of its Truck Parking Diary research, where commercial drivers provided detailed documentation of their challenges in looking for safe, available truck parking.  Participating drivers recorded their parking experiences and issues over 14 days of driving, representing over 4,700 unique parking stops documented in the diaries, and the specifics of these real-world experiences will be used to help inform policy makers about the range of concerns.

Among the findings, drivers looking for parking between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and midnight face a confluence of challenges including increased search times, and truck parking spaces clogged by non-commercial vehicles, which results in drivers parking in undesignated or unauthorized locations such as roadway shoulders or ramps during those same times.

ATRI's diary research also documented the amount of lost revenue time that drivers experience by parking earlier than they otherwise needed to, just to find parking.  With an average of 56 minutes of revenue drive time sacrificed by drivers per day, the parking shortage effectively reduces an individual driver's productivity by 9,300 revenue-earning miles a year, which equates to lost wages of $4,600 annually.

The ATRI truck parking diaries also quantified the negative impact that the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate will likely have on the parking issue.  Drivers utilizing ELDs were more likely to spend over 30 minutes looking for available parking than did drivers without an ELD.

Based on the diary findings, ATRI's report offers recommendations for a number of industry stakeholders, including public sector providers of parking at rest areas, private truck stop operators and motor carriers—all designed to reduce the challenges faced by commercial drivers when looking for available parking.  

"The lack of available truck parking creates a lot of stress for me and my fellow drivers," said Stephanie Klang, a professional driver for CFI and an America's Road Team Captain.  "And, as ATRI's diary research shows, it's a number of things - from lack of capacity, concerns over running out of hours, time limitations on parking in public rest areas and customers not letting us park in their facilities - that all combine to make this a perennial issue for us."

A copy of this report in available on ATRI's website