The Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) has released a study detailing their findings regarding truck parking spots, taking place over 2018 and 2019.
If you travel interstate as a trucker, there is an extremely high chance you will eventually find yourself in Texas. With over a quarter-million square miles of land, the state is the second-largest in the nation, behind Alaska. It is also in the center of the country and touches the Atlantic Ocean via the Gulf of Mexico. Because of these factors, it is a major shipping hub for the United States, and to some extent our Mexican neighbors as well. The study from Texas DOT stems from the 2018 Texas Freight Mobility Plan that identified safe parking access for trucks a pressing need in the state’s transportation industry work, and based on the state’s geographical location this is hardly a surprise.
Just the Facts
The study is 138 pages, and you can read it in its entirety here. We will abridge the findings we found most interesting and post them here for easy reading.
- The state of Texas has more than 27,000 truck parking spaces, of which 90% are from private entities such as Flying J and Petro.
- Approximately 96% of parking spots are close to interstate or US highways.
- The hour with the most demand for parking is 1 AM to 2 AM. During this time, major private truck stops can have 105% capacity, meaning people are parking in unauthorized locations.
- Despite the 105% capacity at major truck stops during the peak hour, pull-off areas with little to no amenities have a 60% utilization rate during the peak hour.
- Of truckers surveyed, 63% admitted to parking in unauthorized locations at least weekly, with 10% saying they do it daily.
- Texas DOT estimates the number of trucks on Texan roads in 2050 will be 170% of what they are now. If this is true, finding a spot even outside of peak hours will be next to impossible.
- Between 2013 and 2017, there were 2,315 crashes into parked trucks that led to 138 deaths. The number of these parked truck crashes that involved an unauthorized parking situation is unknown.
- The district with the most need for additional parking spaces is also the one with the highest population: Houston.
- Despite hosting only 10% of all parking spaces in the state, Texas DOT hopes to take up a larger share in the future by expanding current public facilities through the use of angled parking and more paved roads.
- Beyond already established parking facilities getting upgrades, Texas DOT hopes to rework other facilities, such as weigh stations, into truck stops.
- Surveyed truckers said the ideal example of rest stops are the ones found on the Ohio Turnpike. Texas DOT has taken this into consideration for their own rest stops to emulate.
- Texas DOT hopes to establish a system of truck parking availability systems to help truckers better find available parking spots. Each established system may cost between $100,000 and $150,000.
Texas seems to be on top of things for growing demand in the trucking industry. They realize that truckers are a vital part of the economy, not just for Texas, but for the nation as a whole.
Texas DOT believes it is not enough to simply provide more parking spaces; the parking spots must also have nearby amenities to motivate truckers to use them. The difference in capacity between private truck stops and Texas DOT pull-offs indicates this as a growing need. Enhanced vending machines, wi-fi, and showers are just a few ideas Texas DOT hopes to implement further.
Through creative solutions, they can increase the number of available parking spots to meet demand for the future.