Truck Parking Shortage Reaches Critical Status for Carriers and Drivers
by user | March 12, 2021 | News & Trends
Decades of traffic growth and inadequate roadway planning have turned highway parking short to critically short. And it is expensive. Carriers continue to battle for parking spaces in long-haul trucks; by the time drivers have parked their tractor-trailers and waited for a berth at a truck stop or airport lot, they have wasted time, fuel and money. Additionally, trucks continue to park off local streets; trucks parked improperly are vulnerable to theft, vandalism and damage, affecting not only truckers and carriers, but their insurance premiums. Truck parking is short on space, often needing space less than a local grocery store requires. As demand for truck parking space increases, truckers struggle to avoid driving over into one parking lot or another. Carriers, whose parking spaces are more limited, must also avoid hitting parked cars or trucks, damaging their own trucks or accumulating fines and citations. Truck parking facilities, such as the Delaware Truck Parking Corporation and private lot operator Eldorado Trucking Co., can turn away drivers because of a lack of space in their facilities, leading to limited highway availability.
Rising Demand Expected to Continue As COVID Modernizes
As a result of COVID, demand for commercial trucking capacity will continue to grow. Specifically, COVID is expected to create a smaller demand per available truck driver in the short-haul sector. Overall, if COVID is successfully implemented in all states, the cost to the U.S. economy will likely rise between $8 and $30 billion each year, potentially leading to a $30 billion shortage in available commercial driver capacity by 2030.
The economic costs of the shortage are more than just financial. Trucking and transportation companies are expected to increase base pay and provide generous overtime rates to attract drivers in the short-haul sector. Furthermore, commercial trucking capacity is expected to see little change in the long-haul sector, where the trucking industry has been struggling to fill up truck parking spaces with qualified drivers. By the same token, companies looking to hire fleet drivers, truck drivers with long-haul experience, or those wanting to move to trucking and shift from a local trucking company, will continue to struggle to find qualified drivers in a busy, congested market. It may be that many of these companies will be forced to hire less qualified drivers and pay for their training.
The combination of COVID and other issues facing the trucking industry, such as congestion, competition from air freight, electronic logging devices and numerous other causes, may prompt carriers and drivers to look to join a new trucking company, increasing demand for professional drivers. Many drivers who earn more than the current minimum wage and work more hours in a year than their predecessor will find an increased likelihood of leaving the industry. Carriers who have recently lost drivers may not be able to find drivers to replace them as quickly or effectively as they hoped. This may cause fleets to struggle to fill empty trucking capacity.
The shifting of trucking capacity toward the short-haul sector may force commercial trucking companies to address increasing congestion in their daily schedules. In addition, due to drivers shifting out of their regular schedules, it may be that companies will not be able to transport the cargo they are looking to transport. Instead, they may move to increase load availability and load dispersion, by increasing the number of stops each driver makes and increasing the time drivers stay on the road. This may be difficult, because congestion will limit carriers' capacity and may increase their costs.
The Logistics Industry
In the short term, the logistics industry will likely face the short-haul drivers who switch to the trucking industry as the largest competition. Trucking and logistics companies may be forced to pay higher wages, provide better equipment or give drivers more flexibility in terms of the number of stops each driver can make, as the cost of operating a commercial trucking company increases, pushing some freight to air freight carriers. This shift may be a logical response, as the benefits of moving freight between freight carriers will outweigh the gains from moving freight from truck to truck. However, this shift is likely to put pressure on trucking companies to become better organized, both from a business perspective and to attract commercial truck drivers.
Additionally, the pressures caused by COVID will continue to push freight into the trucking industry. It is likely that the number of freight carriers will grow in the short term as well. One recent study estimates that there are over 10,000 private freight carriers today, with more coming online each year. These additional commercial trucking companies will be expected to recruit drivers to their ranks. At the same time, COVID is expected to reduce the short-haul market share in the long-haul sector. The number of trucking companies who can legally own and operate long-haul trucks will likely decrease. If trucking companies are forced to reduce their capacity and hire less qualified drivers, companies may not be able to hire and train enough drivers to reach the commercial trucking market share they may have hoped for. This will likely result in a lower amount of freight transported, affecting trucking companies, fleet owners and transportation companies.
At the same time, fleets may have to shift towards buying newer, larger trucks as fleets look to increase their capacity and replace aging vehicles. Trucking companies may also have to re-align their practices and incentives to meet commercial truck drivers' expectations and growing demands. Fleet owners may have to provide drivers with better equipment and may have to increase pay and decrease work hours, to attract drivers to their company. This will result in an ongoing struggle between commercial trucking companies, fleet owners, transport companies and the freight companies who manage their fleets.