The lack of available truck parking is a well-known issue for drivers. An EU-funded study carried out in 2019 tracked only 300,000 parking places currently available in the EU, with a shortfall of 100,000 to meet total demand. Only about 7,000 of the existing parking places, less than 3%, are in safe and secure areas. The alarming data pushed the European Commission to adopt new standards and procedures for the development of a network of certified truck parking areas, but the situation for lorry drivers and their cargo hasn’t shown significant improvement so far.
Conditions in the US aren’t any better. After fuel prices and driver shortage, the lack of parking is the third-ranked issue for truck drivers, says the American Transportation Research Institute. It is directly tied to driver recruitment and retention issues, including the efforts to attract more women to the profession, as it creates safety issues for workers who often have to drive fatigued until they can find available parking or stop in undesignated parking, such as a highway shoulder or ramp.
According to the Truckload Carriers Association, 70% of drivers admit to violate federal hours-of-service rules to find parking and 96% to park in areas not designed for trucks. On the other hand, lost wages for those who park prior to running out of hours-of-service limits to find a safe parking place are estimated around 4,600 USD annually per driver.
While European and US authorities are called to expand truck parking capacity, smart technology can contribute to the improvement of rest areas along highways and frequent itineraries for heavy goods vehicles. Highway operators – such as Sanef in France – are implementing Smart Truck Parking solutions to offer safe and secure rest areas to professional drivers.
By monitoring vehicle occupancy in existing truck lots and transferring data to a centralized management system, information about parking availability can be shared in real time with drivers through variable message panels, dedicated mobile apps, or onboard truck infotainment systems. This allows drivers to plan their rest in respect of hours-of-service rules, appreciate safe rest areas, and minimize risks for their own security, as well as for other people and vehicles.