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The DOT Doctor Speaks
Thursday, September 24 2015
Pay to Reserve Parking

There is no wonder that a driver shortage exists.  Over regulation, failure to pay for detention time, low mileage pay, poor equipment and/or generally bad working conditions do lead to worker shortages.  The newer medical rules reduce the eligible pool even further.   The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average pay for a truck driver is $38,200 or as they average it $18.73/hour.   Reality; 70 hours a week * 50 weeks a year (let’s give time for vacation and holidays) averages out to $10.91/hour.  If you factor in detention time, time away from home and any other “unlogged” work factors; the average truck driver makes less than a “burger flipper”.   They do not even make minimum wage yet a professional driver (CDL driver) must be trained, jump through a million hoops and are classified as a professional.  

Law officials hold then to standards befitting a professional yet they are too often the carrier’s puppet.  The desk is stacked against the driver and often against the carrier as well.  The parking situation only magnifies the situation.  When a driver cannot find safe parking, he has no choice but to continue onward.  If he stops early, he risks the load being late.  Unrealistic schedules, shipper delays and gridlock are all the enemy of the driver.

Pay to reserve parking is forcing the trip pre-planning issue.  While drivers need to pre-plan their day or their trip, there also has to be room for contingencies.  If carriers are going to pay for reserved parking for their drivers, this is saying to me that a driver’s day is going to be fully controlled by the carrier.  He will be told where to start, where to rest, where to fuel and what road to drive.  Drivers are tracked and monitored.  Some companies have systems installed where they can change a driver’s RPMs on the fly and shut off a truck.  Add an ELD system and a driver facing camera and the puppet show is ready to begin. 

Much of this is already happening but with pay to reserve parking, this is going one step further.  There will be no autonomy remaining behind the wheel.   The driver will no longer be the captain of his ship (truck).  The driver will the programed drone for the carrier.  While this may work for the new age trucker; the driver who craved the “freedom of the road” is being crushed! 

One way to look at this situation, is that this type of planning will facilitate my earlier suggestion of load swapping (DOT Doctor blog-  When the carrier is planning every detail of the day; they will be dictating where you park hence the ability to load swap at a predetermined destination and time.  I have to assume that the reservation comes with a time quota because the renter is going to want to maximize his lot space.  This means a driver must arrive to his parking area at a set time and leave at a set time.  What happens if you are late?  Does your slot get given to the next bidder?  Do you have to vacate before your 10-hour break is complete?  If this is a revenue generating venture for the lot owner; these are valid considerations.

It appears that most of these pay to park places are in areas where parking is hard to come by and traffic is high.  Drivers are already dealing with much stress due to these gridlock conditions.  You may plan to make it to destination X but in reality you have to end your day at W due to a highway shut down or other delays beyond your control.  What if traffic was actually good for a change and you can go further to get a jump on the next day?  You are now forced to shut down early.  There are many variables on the road as any seasoned driver is aware.

Trucking is not a 9-5 job yet the government implements all their plans to force this industry into their 8-hour mindset.  This is just one more step in that direction.  Look at the Bureau of Labor wage calculation.  Their hourly rate is based upon a 40-hour week.  What trucker works a 40-hour week?  Perhaps a Teamster but the one’s I know work more than a 40-hour week. 

In order for a carrier to be sure the driver can make the reservation on time, without placing themselves in jeopardy of “driver cohesion” for forced running over hours; they are going to have to stop the day a bit short.  Carriers or drivers who reserve slots for the 12th hour (figurative speaking) are proving they run over hours.  They are setting themselves up for fines and potential loss of CDL/authority due to their actions.   As such, this is just another tool for the government to force truckers into their controlled time box of a 40-hour week.

Moreover, paying to have a place to park is just wrong!  I can see why the ATRI’s survey (OVERDRIVE and CCJ says that drivers in high traffic areas were more likely to say Yes.  If you are from the NE or West Coast, you are accustomed to paying to park everywhere you go.  The rest of us are not use to doing so.  Still accustomed or not; additional costs reduce income.  Trucker profit margins are slim at best.  Carriers, owner-operators nor drivers can afford another cost item. 

Truckers pay over $50 Billion annually in combined taxes according to the American Trucking Association.  With over $35 Billion paid annually in highway usage taxes, why can the government not afford to build adequate and safe parking areas for truckers?

Posted by: The DOT Doctor AT 03:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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