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Saturday, September 30, 2023

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Biden Announces $80 Million in Grants for Highway Safety Including Truck Parking

On Sept. 13, American Trucking Association President Chris Spear joined government officials to announce $80 million in federal investments for additional parking for commercial drivers.

“There are countless ways to thank America’s hardworking truck drivers during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, and today we are doing so by addressing a serious issue that consistently ranks as one of their highest concerns,” Spear said.

“The funding being announced today will help to alleviate a shortage of truck driving spaces that too often puts drivers in a no-win situation,” he continued.

“These projects being funded by the IIJA are an important step in the right direction, and we look forward to continuing to work with USDOT Secretary Buttigieg and FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson to solve this challenge together.”

“This event is really a fine example of our industry coming together and government officials actually hearing the issues that our drivers face each and every day: spending nearly an hour looking for parking, losing nearly $5,000 a year in wages spent looking for a place to rest,” said Spear, referring to the shortage of truck parking as a “national problem.”

Noting a 2021 infrastructure law that assists agencies with parking programs, Spear added: “It’s not only that they need that rest. They have to take it. They’re required by law. And if we’re going to require them to do it, then we need to provide the space for them to park. We also want to celebrate the fact that the [Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act] provides monies that will not only provide secured truck parking but well-lit truck parking.”

Dan Van Alstine, chairman of ATA and president and chief operating officer of Ruan Transportation Management Systems, emphasized industry concerns. 

“The shortage of truck parking capacity is, first and foremost, a critical safety issue for drivers, the motoring public and law enforcement,” Van Alstine pointed out. 

“The time that is wasted, and frustration and anxiety created, searching for safe parking, also leads to supply chain disruptions, reduces drivers’ compensation, and adds unnecessary congestion and emissions,” he added.

“Secretary Buttigieg is the first USDOT Secretary to award grants for projects that add parking spots. We appreciate his focus on this issue, and we will continue to support bipartisan efforts in Congress to secure additional dedicated funding for truck parking.”

“We have stepped up our work on the truck parking coalition and our efforts to encourage states and other decision-makers to make better use of infrastructure dollars to expand parking,” said Buttigieg, noting a USDOT partnership with stakeholders.

Dean Kay, a driver for Ruan Transportation and captain of America’s Road Team, was also on hand at the event.

“The severe lack of truck parking has an enormous impact on drivers nationwide,” Kay said. “It touches almost every aspect of our profession, from quality of life to compensation, but more than that, the lack of truck parking is fundamentally a safety issue. We appreciate Secretary Buttigieg’s commitment to improving the lives of professional drivers by making truck parking a priority.”

“By expanding access to parking options for truckers, we are making our roads safer for all commuters and ensuring that goods and supplies are shipped to market in the most efficient way possible,” said Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), the bill’s co-sponsor. “This is a matter of public safety, and I’m proud to have led on this important legislation.”

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