[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]
The leaders of the transportation committee in the U.S. House of Representatives called on the nation’s top transportation officer to increase resources for the expansion of parking facilities for truck drivers.
Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s chairman and ranking member, respectively, argued that augmenting parking availability for commercial drivers nationwide would help make roadways safer and assist with tackling supply chain woes.
Across the trucking industry, lacking adequate access to parking has been a concern over the years.
At today’s hearing on roadway safety, Chair @RepPeterDeFazio highlighted the safety concerns from a shortage of truck parking. Just yesterday, Chair DeFazio sent a letter to @SecretaryPete asking to invest funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to address this issue. pic.twitter.com/56MftkoueS
— Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (@TransportDems) June 8, 2022
“As the department establishes its spending priorities, we ask that you closely consider applications for and award funding to projects that will expand truck parking capacity,” the lawmakers wrote to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on June 7.
DeFazio and Graves went on: “We believe that focusing funding on truck parking will improve highway safety for all road users and help to alleviate longstanding supply chain inefficiencies.”
“We hope that you will continue to look for any opportunity to make progress on expanding parking capacity,” they added. “We urge the department to redouble its efforts and use the available resources at the department’s disposal to finally make progress on this issue.”
The committee’s leaders pointed to an array of programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation already available for Buttigieg and his staff to use for addressing parking concerns. These include grant programs designed to expand regional freight and infrastructure projects, such as the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA), Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE), and the national infrastructure project assistance program.
A recent assessment of domestic supply chain challenges conducted by DOT recommended that officials dedicate additional resources for state agencies and trucking stakeholders seeking to expand access to parking. The current inability to consistently find adequate parking ranked fifth on a 2021 report by the American Transportation Research Institute titled, “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry.”
The lawmakers’ letter to the secretary was issued shortly after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated there had been 42,915 fatalities on U.S. roads in 2021. That marked an increase of 10.5% over traffic fatalities in 2020. “This crisis on our roads is urgent and preventable,” said NHTSA administrator Steven Cliff. “We will redouble our safety efforts, and we need everyone, state and local governments, safety advocates, automakers, and drivers, to join us. All of our lives depend on it.”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), chairwoman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, was among the policymakers on Capitol Hill to react to NHTSA’s latest figures. “The rhetoric around traffic safety has finally begun to change. Transportation leaders now acknowledge the shared responsibility to build roads that are safer for everyone,” Norton said.
“Words alone are not enough. We must take concrete steps to design, build and rebuild roads that prioritize the safe movement of people, regardless of how they move. I hope that, with a redoubled commitment to safety, we will not be having this same conversation years from now,” she added.
Earlier this year, Buttigieg told a Senate panel his department was pursuing strategies to increase access to parking for the country’s truck drivers. “This is a very important issue and as you talk with any truck driver, it is not only an issue of convenience, it is an issue of safety,” the secretary said during a hearing of the Senate committee on highway policy.