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Jason's Law Truck Parking Survey Results and Comparative Analysis

Executive Summary

This material documents the findings of the Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey, which was conducted to meet the requirements of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21; P.L. 112-141) law that became effective on October 1, 2012. The purpose of Section 1401 of MAP-21, more popularly known as “Jason’s Law,” was to address the commercial motor vehicle parking shortage at public and private facilities along the National Highway System (NHS). Jason’s Law directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a survey and a comparative assessment to:

  • Evaluate the capability of each State to provide adequate parking and rest facilities for commercial motor vehicles engaged in interstate transportation;
  • Assess the volume of commercial motor vehicle traffic in each State; and
  • Develop a system of metrics to measure the adequacy of commercial motor vehicle parking facilities in each State.

Truck parking shortages are a national safety concern. A number of studies have been completed in recent years to analyze the adequacy of truck parking and the associated safety risks. Many of these studies documented projected growth of truck traffic on the Nation’s highway system, severe truck parking shortages in some regions, a lack of adequate information for truck drivers about parking capacity at existing facilities, and the challenges associated with routing and delivery requirements and accommodating rest periods. The studies’ findings strongly correlate with anecdotal information collected from the trucking industry as well.

The following information provides a brief summary of the survey and comparative assessment tasks required under Jason’s Law.

Survey of State Capability to Provide Adequate Parking and Rest Facilities

To evaluate the capability of each State to provide adequate parking, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) worked with public and private stakeholders to develop a survey of each State’s department of transportation (State DOT) and commercial motor carrier safety officials. These surveys were supplemented by information solicited via customized questionnaires for stakeholder community members, including representatives from among truck drivers, trucking firm logistics personnel, and travel plaza and truck stop owners and operators.

To coordinate and ensure a robust response rate among States and stakeholders, FHWA formed a Stakeholder Technical Working Group (STWG) that also provided input on the metrics requirement of Jason’s Law. The STWG included representative groups of the stakeholder community:

  • State DOT personnel: American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
  • State motor carrier safety  officials: Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
  • Travel plaza and truck stop owners and operators: National Association of Truck Stop Operators
  • Trucking industry firm management, logistics personnel, and fleet drivers: American Trucking Associations (ATA)
  • Independent truck drivers: Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association

Supplementary to the surveys, these industry groups and public agency representatives provided a valuable range of perspectives on the issue of truck parking, and these are included in the findings summarized below. The State DOTs and AASHTO focus on issues related to site location and selection of new or expanded parking facilities, with an understanding of freight flows and the supply chain dynamics that drive truck parking demand, and identifying the appropriate public agencies and private stakeholders to serve as “champions” to address parking needs. The interests of commercial vehicle enforcement and safety officials revolve around improving safety, changing public perception about truck parking, and accommodating the diverse industry parking needs of different industries, drivers, and area demographics (i.e., rural and urban deliveries). As system users who must deal with parking issues on a daily basis, the trucking industry would like to expand parking “adequacy” beyond simple parking supply and demand to also improve real-time information about parking availability and address different drivers’ preferences and needs for both short-term and long-term parking. Travel center and truck stop operators see truck parking through a business model prism for private retail sites, with a focus on meeting customer needs, addressing challenges in the development of truck stops, accurately measuring parking needs in different locations, and improving communications to truck drivers about parking availability and other services.

Key Findings

The following themes represent the key categories of the survey findings:

Parking Capacity

  • Most States report problems with truck parking shortages. Those States that did not report shortages were mostly rural (with the exception of Ohio).
  • States report higher levels of shortages in public parking facilities than in private facilities.
  • States with the highest numbers of spaces are clustered along major corridors with high truck volumes.
  • When compared to key truck activity and usage indicators such as miles of the NHS, mileage of vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and millions of dollars in Gross Domestic Product, patterns emerge showing that there are high numbers of spaces relative to indicators, particularly in the east/north central region around the Chicago metropolitan area.
  • Respondents reported experiencing shortages of spaces in the east/north central region despite the high number of spaces relative to activity.
  • Analysis of States with the lowest ratio of parking to indicators reveals fewer spaces in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States.
  • Drivers and logistics personnel reported most challenges with parking shortages in the Mid-Atlantic, as well as the east-north central area, New England, and the Southeast.
  • Drivers and staff did report that they also viewed the east-north central area to have sufficient parking despite reported shortages. They also cited the Midwest and west-north central region, the Southeast, and the Southwestern States as having sufficient parking.
  • As with the reports of shortages, drivers and staff made fewer reports of sufficient parking in the Mid-Atlantic and New England and Southeast and Pacific coast States. The top five corridors cited by drivers and staff as having shortages are I-95, I-40, I-80, I-10 and I-81.  

Private Truck Stops Usage and Needs

  • Private truck stop owners and operators report that most facilities have fewer than 100 spaces available. 
  • Most facilities report being at full capacity primarily during night hours, but some report being at capacity during daytime hours as well.
  • Facilities are typically over capacity during the mid-week; however, some facilities report challenges throughout the entire week.
  • Anecdotally, facilities indicated that they would like to add parking but have faced difficulties including lack of authority, zoning laws, lack of funding, and other expansion challenges.

Unofficial Parking Observances

  • Almost half of the State DOTs reported unofficial and/or illegal parking on freeway interchange ramps and shoulders of highways. Similarly, State motor carrier safety officials also reported that most unofficial and or illegal parking occurs in these locations.
  • Motor carrier safety officials reported that unofficial parking is mostly observed during night hours during weekdays. However, there were a number of reports on weekend days as well.
  • Motor carrier safety officials reported observing unofficial parking consistently throughout the year with only a slight decline in winter months.

Driver Perceptions

  • More than 75 percent of truck drivers and almost 66 percent of logistics personnel reported regularly experiencing problems with finding safe parking locations when rest was needed.
  • Ninety percent reported struggling to find safe and available parking during night hours.
  • Drivers and logistics personnel reported that the parking shortages were encountered mostly during the weekdays, but many reported weekend difficulties.
  • Months of the year when problems occurred were generally consistent; however, the ATA drivers reported fewer problems during the summer months while their logistics personnel counterparts reported higher challenges during this time.

From a qualitative analysis of State comments on the truck parking issue, the following key themes emerged:

  • Finding available and safe parking at night is a significant problem, as truck runs appear to correlate to popular delivery windows and schedules.
  • Adverse weather conditions have a significant impact on parking capacity, availability, and safety.
  • States lack resources to fund parking projects and enforcement.
  • States expressed a need to understand the key industries and commodities supply chains traveling on their individual road systems in order to better anticipate and plan for parking needs. Many States report that the industry parking needs vary and should be considered in this analysis.
  • Similarly, States recognize major differences between short-term and long-term parking needs and seek an understanding of how to accommodate those differing demands.
  • Planning and zoning is a challenge for truck parking development. States cite needs to coordinate with neighboring States to understand both economic development and any truck regulations that may impact the amount and type of trucks traveling in the region as well as their parking requirements. In addition, there are hurdles associated with State-level attempts to coordinate with counties and municipalities to demonstrate the benefits and needs of parking and to site parking locations.
  • Safety is a challenge due to the mix of trucks and passenger vehicles at parking locations. Drivers must take into account whether a facility’s design allows safe ingress and egress as well as movement throughout the facility.
  • Respondents cited communication with drivers on parking issues and availability as being necessary and important for helping drivers find parking and to broadcast safe options in emergencies or weather.
  • States indicated that locations where the demand for parking was most acute were primarily on major corridors and in metropolitan areas.
  • Regulations and restrictions related to hours-of-service influence route planning and parking decisions and can be a challenge for drivers when a trip is delayed or changed but rest hours are necessary.
  • More data and understanding of the challenges and needs for parking is necessary for States to work with stakeholders on options and to understand the issue at a national level.

In addition, there are varying levels of focus on truck parking among States, as well as inconsistent resources and data. However, based on both the data received and anecdotal information collected from respondents and the STWG, truck parking shortages are being reported by all stakeholders. Shortages appear most pronounced along major trade corridors especially in States around the major freight hubs within the Chicago metropolitan region, States along the I-95 corridor, States clustered around the New York City metropolitan area, and States along the I-5 corridor on the Pacific coast that connects major ports and freight activity located in these regions. Delivery needs and schedules appear to drive a nighttime demand for spaces. Lack of capacity at public and private locations to accommodate demand drives the observed unofficial parking.

Truck Volumes and Truck Parking Locations

The documentation used to assess truck volumes in this report is based on annual State-issued data used by FHWA in administering the Federal-aid highway program. The data provides an understanding of the annual commercial truck activity levels as measured by combination truck VMT on the NHS.  The NHS consists of over 223,000 miles of interconnected urban and rural principal arterials and highways (including toll facilities) that serve major population centers, international border crossings, ports, airports, public transportation facilities, other intermodal transportation facilities, and other major travel destinations; meets national defense requirements; and serves interstate and interregional travel.

The FHWA determined that it is valuable to assess truck traffic volumes mapped with parking supply to best provide a means to characterize the spatial distribution of parking patterns both within a State and across the Nation.

Parking spaces for truck drivers are supplied by both public transportation agencies and private truck stop operators. Publicly provided spaces are typically at rest areas and welcome centers, and in some cases at weigh stations or truck inspection locations. A total of more than 300,000 truck parking spaces are documented in this report, including nearly 36,000 at public rest areas and more than 272,000 at private truck stops.

State maps that illustrate the truck volumes and parking spaces are included in the Appendix of this report.

Truck Parking Metrics

The FHWA surveyed members of the STWG to develop a system of metrics to evaluate truck parking in each State. This work included a comprehensive review of parking metrics from prior studies and industry surveys at the Federal, regional, and State levels and included facility-based measurement, several variations of corridor-based measurements, real-time parking data using ITS technology, and anecdotal information.

An STWG workshop was conducted in Washington, D.C. on January 16, 2014, to solicit information on measuring  truck parking facilities adequacy. The open forum allowed participants to raise issues, concerns, and opportunities specific to their industry and agency. The topics raised included metrics related to truck parking demand, truck parking supply, highway safety, and driver needs. The workshop captured the following categories of metric measures:

  1. Parking Demand – the need for parking such as level of truck activity, proximity to highways and suppliers, and origins and destinations.
  2. Parking Supply – capacity, such as number of spaces, congestion at parking locations, and amenities.
  3. Economic Valuation – the economic value of spaces, return on investment, and cost benefit of parking development.
  4. Safety – crime and crashes related to parking, availability of safety mechanisms at parking locations, information availability for safe parking, and reports of unofficial parking.
  5. Driver Demographics and Needs – types and industry characteristics of drivers and rest requirements by type, driver fatigue, and amenities required.
  6. Location Dynamics – design and accommodation of truck types, ingress and egress, and activity at parking locations.
  7. Environment – impacts of congestion and delays related to insufficient parking and to capture environmental benefits of supply.
  8. Development –  public plans including truck parking, planning and zoning issues, incentives for truck parking, and economic benefit.

The STWG representatives suggested numerous metrics to evaluate truck parking facets described above. The metrics were evaluated to determine the data availability to support ongoing measurement using the following readiness standards:

  • Current metrics are those that can be used today with readily available data that are fairly consistent on a national basis.
  • Metrics with Data Collection Required are those that would provide accurate and useful truck parking measurements on smaller geographic scales, but rely on data resources that are either not currently available or are likely to vary among government jurisdictions.
  • Anecdotal metrics are those that do not lend well to direct measurement but instead rely on resources such as driver surveys, periodic stakeholder outreach, and similar data collection efforts.
  • Industry-specific metrics rely on data from specific companies, industries, or industry groups. Some of this information may be proprietary.

As a result of this process, the study team identified three tiers of metrics in Section V of this report. Tier I metrics are a basic set of foundational metrics for the creation of Tier II metrics and Tier III metrics. Tier II metrics are more complicated to obtain data to implement, and Tier III metrics are those that are aspirational and require research and development of approaches to both metrics and data.


Jason’s Law was specific in requiring DOT to perform three main tasks as part of a survey and comparative assessment: 1) evaluate State capability to provide adequate truck parking; 2) assess truck volumes in each State; and 3) develop a system of metrics to measure parking in each State. This FHWA report synthesizes the various public and private analyses of truck parking needs in the United States and adds to the identification of truck parking needs through a unique evaluation using State-level and motor carrier stakeholder assessments. The study draws upon stakeholder responses to discern themes such as truck parking shortages and challenges. Areas of both shortages and identified unofficial parking correlated with the assessment of truck volumes along many of the Nation’s most heavily traveled freight corridors.

The system of metrics developed in this report helps to describe the areas necessary to assess and measure in order to develop a more comprehensive grasp of truck parking and to establish consistent measurement areas so that a national picture can be developed. While this report recommends a system of metrics based on currently available data, there are a number of metrics that require further research on approaches and data collection that FHWA and its partners, including the motor carrier stakeholders, can advance. Finally, FHWA encourages the incorporation of truck parking analysis into freight planning at the State and regional level, as well as in discussions with Freight Stakeholder Advisory Groups.

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