In Frank’s September 24, 2010, truck stop review, he wrote regarding truck parking
1) Why is it that there is no way to tell if the parking area is full until you’ve toured the whole thing? Not only is that a waste of time, but I bet the drivers already parked don’t appreciate having a searching truck go by every few minutes.
But until that day comes, we figure that there will continue to be streams of drivers in trucks circling lots looking for that elusive empty spot — especially late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.
How many countless professional drivers have had to “create” a spot (especially when “on duty driving” hours of service are almost or completely gone for the day)?
How many truckers have even risked getting a ticket in the process of just trying to find a place to take the federally mandated rest break?
We’ve been there, so we understand!
We realize that all that circling of trucks round and round parking lots wastes time, effort and money.
Enhancing the Idea
So Vicki wrote back to Frank, thanking him for his submission and enhancing it:
Your ideas about parking are inspirational.
For example, about the availability of truck parking, I think that something could be devised — such as running a metal sensor down the center of each parking space to detect the presence of a rig or bobtail — with a real-time read-out on how many spaces are available. This would be sort of like the “No Vacancy” sign out in front of a hotel/motel. I think this idea is definitely worthy of a page on our site, if for no other reason than it saves drivers time, effort and fuel when circling a lot looking for a non-existent open space. This set-up would also minimize or eliminate frustration.
Surely some talented engineer could devise a sensor to withstand being run over many times by fully-loaded big rigs.
After all, there are sensors in roads to detect the presence of vehicles to trigger the changing of lights that seem to hold up just fine under even more strenuous use — and which work well in all sorts of weather.
Real-Time Display of Truck Parking Availability
As an even greater challenge, perhaps a board could be set up to display real-time availability of the estimated vacancy of all of the numbered spaces.
Shown here is a “listing” of 10 truck parking spaces in a truck stop and the time (in hours:minutes) when the spaces are estimated to be vacant or available based on a truck parking there and the clock starting to tick down from 10:00 (ten hours, zero minutes).
- Space 2 shows “0:02” — meaning that the space is estimated to be empty in 2 minutes;
- Space 5 shows “0:00” — meaning that the space is empty now; and
- Space 9 reads “occupied” — meaning that a truck has been parked there for longer than the 10 hour rest break and there is no telling when it will become empty. As soon as the driver pulls out, it could flip to 0:00.
By making this suggestion of real-time availability or vacancy, we don’t want any of the following to result:
- drivers to be required to state when “their” spaces will become empty;
- feelings to be rankled among drivers waiting for spaces that are “supposed” to be empty at a specific time when they don’t; or
- drivers to be “evicted” from spaces because they have been there longer than a 10-hour rest break.
Scoreboard or Billboard
We’re just thinking of something like the timer on a scoreboard at any timed sporting event (like football or basketball).
If that’s too complicated, a different tack is for truck stops to post (such as on their interstate billboards along with their fuel prices) the estimated number of already-empty, vacant or “open” spots in their lots, like what is shown here at the fictitious “XYZ Truck Stop.”
If drivers know in advance that they will have parking available at a specific truck stop, they might be more likely to come in, park and do business.
By the way, we are personally in favor of truck parking spaces being created by businessmen and businesswomen in privately owned truck stops instead of spaces being provided by government.
Businesses are able to provide security for safe parking for much less money than government can and without all of the strings that go with government control.
In July 2012, we read a tweet about truck parking information being sent right to the truck.
This is an excellent idea for a trucker app for Smartphones (Android, Blackberry and iPhone).
We think this is the wave of the future, if only truck stops would invest in the technology.
In advance of our November 9, 2012, Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips Email Newsletter, we published an article entitled, “Will Truckstop Parking Wars Erupt From Paid Reserve-It Parking at Truck Stops?”
In advance of our January 10, 2014, Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips Email Newsletter, we published an article entitled, “Reserve It Parking: How Truck Stops Reserved Parking for Trucks?”
There are pros and cons to having paid truck parking, especially reserved in advance.
In cases where it is needed (not just wanted), we think that trucking companies should pay to have their company drivers park during their rest break.
Money saving tip: Being able to find truck parking when and where you need it saves time, effort and money.
How much time is lost, how much effort is expended and how much money is spent when professional truck drivers try to find places to park when there aren’t any?
The advertising of parking space vacancy is one such idea to help eliminate waste.
We expect that the situation regarding lack of adequate truck parking will only be exacerbated if the new hours of service proposal is put into place, restricting the number of hours that drivers can drive on duty.
(For your convenience, we are linking to or listing products on Amazon.com, with which we have an affiliate relationship.)
We strongly recommend that drivers obtain the National Truck Stop Directory or The Trucker’s Friend, because it has a comprehensive overview of all truck stops in the USA. Each truck stop listed has a classification as to the number of truck parking spaces.
However, it must be remembered that just because a truck stop has spaces doesn’t mean any are empty.
Perhaps until truck stops start implementing truck stop monitoring for empty spaces, some kind drivers may want to act as scouts and announce on the CB where empty spots in the lot are, to help their fellow drivers who are looking for one.
One may find the number of truck parking spots in The Trucker’s Friend, as listed here from Amazon.com, with which we have an affiliate relationship.
Professional drivers should always strive to park in safe and secure lots so as not to invite cargo theft.
Some folks choose to park in places other than truck stops, rest areas or service plazas.
You may want to make sure you have permission to park there.
Also, always be looking out for “No Truck Parking” type signs, especially if they are accompanied by a sign that stresses that violators’ vehicles will be towed.