Craig Witzke approached the truck idling in the parking lot of his business in Catonsville, Maryland, on a recent night with a question.
“What are you doing here?” the director of the Candle Light Funeral Home asked.
The driver told Witzke he would be only a few minutes. He was waiting to pick up a load from another truck, which was on its way.
“I said, ‘Well, not here, you're not,’” the funeral home director said. “They were using me as a transfer station.”
The incident underscores the increasing desperation of the U.S. truck parking shortage, which has grown to just one spot for every 11 trucks on the road, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association.
Parking was the trucking industry’s third biggest concern in the past year, according to the American Transportation Research Institute, and drivers ranked it above soaring fuel prices as their top worry.
To address the issue, OOIDA is supporting a bipartisan bill in the Senate that would invest hundreds of millions of federal dollars in truck parking.
Witzke has dealt with other issues of trucks parking at his business. Construction crews have used his spacious lot as a staging area, and a repo crew towed cars there recently.
Some might not even realize where they’re parking, since the Candle Light retained the name of a longtime restaurant that operated in the same building before the funeral home opened seven years ago.
“I honestly just think they see it as a big, empty parking lot and an opportunity,” Witzke said.
Witzke sympathizes with truck drivers in search of a place to park, especially as an RV owner familiar with the struggle of finding an open parking space while on the road.
“I've been chased away as well,” he said.
But he also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the parking lot. So he was frustrated, for instance, when the repo crew left it scraped up.
“My parking lot’s not even a year old,” Witzke said. “If it's going to get damaged, I'd like it to be damaged by people patronizing my business.”