It's a Team's Life
Truck Parking the Perfect Storm
There seem to be several odd facts that I have gleaned from the different articles:
- The shooting occurred at 4:30 in the morning.
- Usually, at that time in the morning, drivers are leaving the truck stop, so there are places that this driver could have moved.
- Why in the world was security trying to move a truck at 4:30 in the morning? If the truck had been there all night or he had just parked there more than likely, no one else was going to want that parking spot.
There are many scenarios of why this situation had gotten out of hand, and I believe there will be more incidents until there is a solution.
Truck stops have allowed trucking companies and owner-operators to use their lots as terminals for free, and now the truck stops want to be paid. Trucking companies that own their trucks need to pay for their drivers to park. Owner-operators need to handle this the same way; paid parking is another expense. Too many drivers are doing everything possible not to pay to park by causing other problems such as along the streets or in non-traditional parking spots and getting towed or ticketed.
Hours of Service (HOS) is now being enforced easily with electronic logging (ELD), and that is adding pressure to the driver. Now we have a device that has red flashing lights or another form of communication, letting us know we are about out of hours, and we need to park the truck. For those drivers that use every minute available to them on their logs, this can lead to a serious dilemma.
Imagine driving and having the ELD flashing red at you, letting you know you only have minutes to find a parking place, and yet there are no free parking spots. You see a long line of paid parking spots with no trucks. You back into one of the paid parking places and either ignore the sign or you go in to see if you can pay for a spot to be told there are none available. Now, what do you do? The ELD says you are out of hours to drive, and yet there is no room to park?
Some choose to annotate their problem in the ELD’s notes and drive to the next truck stop and hope for room to park. If this has happened very often, the driver takes the chance of getting a ticket as no one believes them.
Some choose to stay where they are as they are out of hours, and they are parked, hoping not to get caught. When security knocks on their door in the evening, the problem escalates as there are not many places they will find parking at that time, and the driver knows it. Usually, this happens when a driver that has reserved a spot arrives at the truck stop to see there are no reserved spots available. The driver that has paid is mad as they are tired and want to go to bed, and the driver who is in their reserved spot is mad as they do not have the hours to drive and know they are not going to find another parking spot.
Who is to blame for this mess? The driver, the truck stop, shippers and receivers, or the government? Each one of these entities is trying to do their job, and it appears no one is on the same page or has the same agenda. The government wants to regulate how long we can drive, the truck stop wants to make money, and the shippers and receivers want their loads picked up and delivered on time. The driver is the bottom rung trying to make it all work out and to thrive within the regulations of the government as well as the company they work for, are leased to, or trying to make pickup and delivery times. Some drivers have figured out how to make this “perfect storm” work, and other drivers fight the system day in and day out till they break.
The repercussions from this incident at the truck stop are going to be felt by all of us in the months to come as a solution has to be found. We have witnessed drivers’ behaviors when they have been asked to move out of a parking spot they have not paid for, and it can be frightening. Since none of us were there during this altercation, we do not know if the security guard pulled his gun in self-defense or if he was overly aggressive. The point is that a shooting occurred, and I am sure this truck stop chain does not want it to happen again. One option they have to is not to allow any trucks to park in their lots.
The mixture of free parking and paid for parking as I see it will be coming to an end. Every truck stop will charge for parking, and that will end the need to shoot drivers in the middle of the night.
Bob & Linda Caffee
Saint Louis MO
Expediters since January 2005
Expediting isn't just trucking, it's a lifestyle;
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