Plentiful, serviced truck parking is a basic human dignity

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It was time to deliver a message to the prime minister’s doorstep.

About 20,000 people had applied their names to a shared call for more truck parking, highlighting the role that such infrastructure plays in efforts to recruit, train, and support commercial drivers. And more signatures were on the way.

While we’ve heard the refrain before, it’s one worth repeating to anyone who will listen. That’s why the Road Haulage Association (RHA) petitioned No10 Downing Street, in hopes the government would help address an estimated shortfall of 11,000 parking spaces. In the United Kingdom.

Truck parking spots
Truck parking spots fill up quickly in the evening at the ONroute rest area on the east-bound side of Hwy. 401 in Cambridge, Ont. (Photo: Leo Barros)

“Commercial vehicle drivers are vital to our economy so better food, toilets, showers, and somewhere safe and secure to sleep are the very least they deserve,” RHA managing director Richard Smith said in a press release. And in the words of MP Greg Smith, “It is imperative the U.K. ups our game, ensure drivers have safe, secure, comfortable, and affordable options that they know they can rely on.”

The matter is no less dire in Canada, where the sorry state of truck parking is a national disgrace — even if the challenge falls under the watch of premiers rather than the prime minister. In Southern Ontario alone, a 2018 study identified a shortage of 1,200 to 2,600 truck parking spaces, with shortfalls particularly intense around Toronto.

As for those who cross the border, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration estimates a nationwide shortage of more than 40,000 truck parking spaces there. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has identified just one parking spot for every 11 trucks on the road.

Mandated ELDs highlight parking shortage

Mandated electronic logging devices (ELDs) have certainly dragged the issue into the spotlight. While the shortage of truck parking is a longstanding challenge, the true extent of the issue was partially masked by sloppy lines and fudged numbers in paper logbooks, as drivers bent Hours of Service rules until they could maximize their miles and still find a place to stop for the night. But there’s no hiding from an unyielding ELD.

And while technology of another sort can help truck drivers locate available spaces, using various apps, the data itself can’t create a parking spot out of thin air.

The challenge will intensify before it eases, too. Owners of available parking spaces can be hard-pressed to ignore the rising value of the dirt underneath their feet, and municipalities are ramping up the crackdowns on truck drivers who ultimately give up and park somewhere that trucks are not officially allowed … at least until police or bylaw enforcement officers rap on the window.

This leaves provincial governments to step in to help fill much of the gap. Ontario, for example, has a five-year plan to improve 14 existing truck rest areas, build 10 new sites, and add 178 additional truck parking spaces at four existing ONroute travel plazas. It’s a good start, but even that falls short of the actual demand.

Perhaps it’s time for provinces to require more parking spaces every time they break ground on a project to upgrade or establish a highway – in much the same way that municipalities require housing developers to set land aside for parks in emerging neighborhoods.

Quality and quantity

As important as the quantity of spaces may be, meanwhile, efforts are also needed to ensure a higher quality of related services.

This March, Ontario committed to standards for portable washrooms on construction jobsites, largely to address gaps that affect women who work there. The washrooms are to be private, completely enclosed, with adequate lighting and hand sanitizer where running water is not available. The government is also looking to double the number of toilets at most locations.

“Access to a washroom is a basic human dignity and something every worker should have the right to,” said Monte McNaughton, Ontario minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development.

That basic human dignity is as important to truck drivers as it is to construction workers.

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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • I was driving for 32 yrs .. This is the new Err for trucking.. eat fast food all week @ 15 to 20 dollars each meal then there is or sandwiches or Microwave shti Than the no parking thing!! I got a real job now …. 25 yrs ago people would say Wow you’re a trucker driver Now it’s like OH Shti you’re truck driver!!!

  • The federal government classified class a or 1 drivers as semi skilled labour the last time I looked. The fact that provinces are responsible for providing adequate parking and don’t is telling as well . No body thinks much of the drivers as people contributing to our society. Don’t worry fellow drivers once the province’s figure out how to make money from the real estate we’ll get the very least deserved. On the bright side we’re on par with construction workers who like drivers are essential to the economy but pawns on a chess board in scheme of things. God help us old guys and gals get to retirement in one piece and somewhat intact to enjoy it.

  • I run cross Canada and USA and if you are not parked by 400 pm you may not get a very good parking place with out services. Some drivers keep going to just get off the road at off on ramp for breaks or 10 hrs off.

    • Canada gone to the paid parking too like we have here in the truck stops?
      I mean with the exception of like the big change here in the states to flying J’s in the tas are there a lot more places in Canada now where you have to pay to park if you want safe parking?

  • Not just a problem here in the states?
    I haven’t run Canada probably in almost 11 years. But it’s interesting to see.

    Are they doing the same as here in the states parking on the ramps some states are kind of cool about it cuz they know about the parking situation in the USA and they don’t really wake you up but there are certain places will bang on your door and say move go find parking even if you’re out of hours.

    How about the weigh stations are they like the states there too can you pull in there and sleep we can now a lot of them are opening them up to truck parking.

    Of course the biggest issue with so many lots are the pigs with their bottles of urine their garbage they just toss willy nilly and everywhere like it’s nothing at all.

  • 4 yrs ago we were told ont was 3000 parking spots short and we need them with wi fi and bathrooms and rooms for medical supplies and treatment for disabled and sick in ont .The Ont gov and the O T A can fix this i f they want to keep truck drivers in trucking.


  • Truck parking should be for trucks only and not some guy on vacation with a tiny trailer taking up a place for a truck.
    Then there are the ones who bang on your door waking you up to complain about your reefer running and telling, not asking, you to turn it off so they can sleep.