- In the hunt for truck parking, 57.3% percent of drivers in 2019 reported using a truck-parking app in the previous 12 months, according to the American Transportation Research Institute. That is up slightly from ATRI's 2016 study, which found 55.5% of drivers used such apps. Drivers doing long-haul and interregional trips were more likely to use the apps to find parking, ATRI found.
- The ATRI study, released Monday, also found a gap in the use of such apps by older drivers. About 30% of drivers older than 65 years of age used parking apps.
- The gap was also wide between newer drivers and more experienced drivers: "Drivers with five years of experience or less were almost two times more likely to use a truck parking availability app than drivers with 11 or more years of experience," according to the report.
The seach for parking has become increasingly difficult for truck drivers, as the FMCSA's final HOS rule altered the normal ebb and flow drivers were used to on America's highways.
Combined with growing demand for long hauls and inter-regional trips, many drivers over the years were forced to park on right-of-ways or shuttered properties. These were not sustainable or safe options.
The market has been trying to catch up by adding spots. Top rest-stop operators, such as Love's Travel Stops, have indicated they will continue to add spaces for drivers seeking a place to break or to park while they sleep. Congress has also indicated it could provide federal funding to add spots.
The app culture has been trying to provide relief to trucks through the spread of spot information and opportunities to reserve parking. The ATRI study found the most popular were, in the order of use, Trucker Path, MyPilot and Truck Smart. But as with many things related to apps and the Internet, there is a gap based on age and experience.
Older and more experienced drivers don't use the apps as much as younger and newer drivers, indicating the technology could give the younger drivers an edge in finding parking.
The issue is the most important to drivers, according to ATRI's October 2020 report on the industry's most pressing topics. Truck parking was ranked the No. 3 issue by the industry overall. That was the highest ranking the issue ever rose to, ATRI said.
The report also found the COVID-19 pandemic did not help matters. While the shutdown orders initially decreased traffic, in "a joint ATRI and OOIDA Foundation research initiative conducted earlier [in 2020], 44% of respondents indicated that truck parking was 'somewhat harder' or 'much harder' to find during the pandemic," read the 2020 report.
That report also found a growing percentage of industry officials were looking to information apps to help solve the problem. A small, but growing, percentage of respondents said they believe the best solution for addressing the truck parking shortage is to quantify the value of and expand on technology-based truck parking information systems. In 2017, the number of officials focusing on this strategy was 7.2%. In 2020, ATRI found the percentage rose to 13.3%.