Over 60 per cent of truck drivers say they routinely have trouble finding parking or places to rest while operating in Canada; while an overwhelming majority report that facilities and basic amenities are lacking from public rest areas and service centres across the country.
According to a Rest Area Research Project survey prepared for Transport Canada by Polytechnique Montreal – and in consultation with the Canadian Trucking Alliance – a majority of commercial drivers feel the supply of truck stops and rest areas is extremely low in Canada, particularly in northern Ontario, Southern B.C., large swaths of Alberta, and most large urban areas. Furthermore, drivers who have trouble finding a parking space say they must drive over their time limit to find one. And while better food, showers and washrooms were identified as essential, drivers also pointed to a need for adequate cell phone coverage, Internet connections and security at parking facilities.
The survey, aimed at identifying locations where parking is lacking and how this shortage affects the work of drivers, found that 60.3 per cent of drivers surveyed have trouble finding parking en route while 48 per cent couldn’t find a place to stop near their final destination.
This lack of parking impacts drivers’ behaviour as 49 per cent of drivers report going beyond their planned location to find parking, occasionally causing some of them to surpass their available hours of service. (Drivers indicated they want more flexibility to comply with regulations when they can’t find parking). Over 42 per cent say they have been told by an enforcement officer to move away from a non-designated parking space, while 88 per cent stat that there are not enough rest areas, roadside pullouts and turnouts, or safe havens for them to safely perform inspections.
The most popular ad-hoc parking locations are industrial properties, followed by shopping mall parking lots, vacant lots, roadside pullouts and weigh stations.
Most drivers reported that telephones, washrooms, adequate lighting and drinking water are lacking. Drivers would like to have more public centres equipped with cell phone service in remote areas, food service, showers and Internet. Over 40 per cent of drivers also report that the operability of card lock outlets was unacceptable.
Eighty-seven per cent of drivers say they are willing to pay for showers, but not parking unless there is better security at the location (28%). Seventy per cent of drivers say they will pay up to $30 per night for the services.
Meanwhile, a supplementary Transport Canada report – an Environmental Scan of Truck Stop Needs at Rest Areas – concluded that concluded the shortage is expected to increase over the next few years in Canada and the U.S. is a direct result of increasing truck traffic flows and general demand in trucking operations. Furthermore, increases in truck sizes have decreased space availability, particularly along corridors which allow trucks with multiple trailers, such as long combination vehicles (LCVs).
According to the report, strategies to address truck parking issues should include:
• Construction of additional truck parking spaces, where needed and financially feasible;
• The development of national-level guidelines for the spacing and design of public truck parking facilities;
• The use of ITS technologies to provide real-time information about the location and availability of truck parking spaces;
• Development of public-private partnerships to share or reduce facility construction and maintenance costs, as well as cost-effective options to redesign and rehabilitate existing facilities;
• Addressing truck stop and driver security concerns.