Every once in a while, you hear about a big truck wreck caused by a trucker who fell asleep at the wheel, and then the politicians start talking about restricting hours on the road, and once again, truckers get the short end of the stick. More regulations make it harder to be a trucker and to earn your living at it. Ask any old trucker and they’ll agree – the newer restrictions that limit road time force truckers to spend hours looking for a place to stop that’s safe and won’t be interrupted and forced to move.
But no way to get off and get a decent rest is the reality for a lot o f truckers. It’s not just a problem here in the U.S. There are tweets from Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands… it’s a real issue that even has Jason’s Law, an addition to the US highway bill, to focus on creating more safe truck parking for drivers to rest.
Truck Parking and Crime Rates
When we think about commercial truck driver safety, our first thought is “are they getting sufficient rest breaks?” Of course, rest breaks are mandatory now. But the thing is, drivers can’t take the breaks if they can’t find a safe parking area.
All across the US and Canada, the problem of truck parking has cost too many lives. From 2010 to 2014, about 40 commercial vehicle operators were slain while on the job. While the loss of lives is unnecessary and tragic, it is only one aspect of the truck parking issue. Truck cargo theft is also on the rise. About 86% of the thefts happen in unsecured public parking and trailer drop lots.
Many drivers comment, “Without safe truck parking near me, I’ll just keep driving rather than park in an unsavory spot.” Also, as many as 75% of CMV drivers say they regularly can’t find safe spots to get the rest they need, especially at night.
None of these drivers wants to put the public at risk if they should fall asleep behind the wheel. So, are hotels with truck parking a solution? Or, should truckstops get cash incentives to encourage them to provide more parking? Clearly, we need a solution to the problem of truck parking before more lives are put in jeopardy.
The parking issue hits everyone.
I hear truckers say they can’t find a safe place to stop for their rest breaks and I totally get it. It seems that sometimes people want their goods but don’t care about how they get there. It’s an issue for everyone. Spending two hours searching for and then stopping at a place where trucks aren’t wanted or permitted wastes time and money. The risks for being robbed or worse make drivers give up the road, leading to the problem of not enough drivers to haul the loads.
Basic economics: fewer drivers mean fewer trucks on the road, which will lead to higher prices to cover the higher shipping fees that the drivers will be able to require. It only makes sense for everyone that this issue gets the attention it deserves.
Last year, I found an app for smartphones called RoadBreakers. I got half a dozen tweets mentioning it last night. S0 we called up the company and talked to one of the founders, Greg White.
Greg’s been interested in technology for a long time, but it was a friend’s brother, Richard Shore, a trucker with over a million miles during 10 years on the road who had an idea for an app.
Truckers need to know where they can stop for a rest that’s safe.
The problem is a real one. According to the US Department of Transportation, in 2012 there were over 133 million trucks on the road. There aren’t enough spaces for truckers to pull over for the mandatory rest breaks, forcing truckers to stop on the side of the road, or worse. Everyone wants a place where there won’t be someone banging on the door at 3 a.m. telling them to move. That might be the best scenario – reports of attacks on truck drivers range from robbery to murder. Women truckers in particular are looking for safe locations.
Richard Shore has a laser focus on what RoadBreakers should do. Truck parking and that’s it. This is the need that RoadBreakers wants to fill.
“There are others,” Greg says, “but we want to be the best. We’re crowd-sourcing the data. We have drivers send us locations of places they’ve found. We’re not just depending on the truck stops to give us their information, which sometimes the GPS locations aren’t quite right. Our users can give us a location that we’d otherwise never know.”
Users comment about the truck parking’s human facilities as well.
There are apps for the various places that may be okay such as Walmart parking lots or some low-cost hotels. Greg listed a couple of apps that he knows of that go beyond finding a place to park your truck. He’s tried to run a few things past Richard to add to RoadBreakers, but the driver knows his stuff. This is what is needed and this is what they’re going to produce. One feature of the program that did make the cut is the chat option. Drivers are encouraged to post their comments about the locations – good showers, bad surfaces, whatever another driver might want to know.
“If we hear about a robbery or trouble at a site, we get that information out there,” Greg said. “Drivers want to know that.”
At this time, the RoadBreakers app is available on both the Apple IOS and the Android platforms – and the users are growing. “We started out small and charging for the app, but it’s clear the way for this app to grow and help truckers is to make it free.”
Roadbreakers.com has links to both Google Play and the Apple Store for the app.
As truckers, how are you dealing with your truck parking problems? Do you have another solution?