Texas A&M studying lack of big rig parking spots in Texas

HOUSTON – It’s a problem truckers face every day-- finding a parking spot. Here is what’s being done to fix the problem, and how to keep them off the side of the road.

Midnight to 5 a.m. is the worst time for parking at rest stops, the hours when your body should naturally rest. A concern for the nation’s hundreds of thousands of truck drivers.

Finding a safe parking spot is a constant issue for truck drivers all throughout the country, and especially in Texas.

“Texas, always tight, always tight, if you don’t have a place to park by 2 in the afternoon, good luck,” said John Barringar.

John Barringar is an experienced truck driver behind the wheel from coast to coast for more than 20 years. He tells KPRC 2 there are not enough parking spaces along their routes and there is no real way for truckers to know in advance about parking availability at truck stops.

“They have free areas, but they also have spots that are marked reserved and those can cost anywhere from $15-25,” Barringar said.

Truckers have to pay that cost out of pocket if the free rest spots are taken up-- which usually comes out of their own pocket, with no reimbursement.

“The electronic logbook says you need to rest half an hour if you drive anywhere between four hours and eight hours. Last night, I don’t find no place to park,” Lionell Castillo, a truck driver, said.

There are laws in place that limit how long drivers can be on the road. The lack of truck parking availability where drivers need it results in unauthorized parking on highway shoulders, ramps and frontage roads, impacting the safety of these drivers.

Dan Middleton with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute has been studying this issue for months five miles north of Huntsville along Interstate 45, helping the Texas Department of Transportation fix this problem. They’ve put sensors at the entrance and exit and on the ground along parking spaces to detect how many big rigs use this parking lot.

“How do we disseminate that information and so that truck drivers know before they get to the site, is it full or are there spaces available?” Middleton said.

Middleton’s work could be a step in the development of a high-tech information system that notifies truckers about space availability. This could perhaps be done through TXDOT’s Lonestar system or even through the truck’s onboard electronic logging device system. Helping drivers find where to safely and efficiently park, this study should be done by mid-2022.

About the Author:

Traffic expert and What’s Driving Houston reporter, proud Latina, lover of animals, food and our beautiful planet.