Rep. Rick Crawford Highlights Truck Parking, Highway Safety

Interview Is Latest for Transport Topics’ Newsmakers
Rick Crawford
Rep. Rick Crawford at a past hearing. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News)

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The chairman of a House transportation subcommittee wants lawmakers to put as much focus on truck parking as they have on expanding the scope of electric vehicles, and laments that the issue wasn’t a central focus of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that President Joe Biden signed in 2021.

“If you ask the trucking industry what’s their most pressing issue, I think everybody is going to say — resoundingly — truck parking,” said Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) during a wide-ranging interview this month for Transport Topics’ Newsmakers program. “And yet there was no consideration given to truck parking, instead putting all these resources into [electric vehicle] charging. Well, we’re not there yet. The trucking industry is not there. That’s a very high cost transition that they’re not willing to make yet. The market for it is not there.”

Demand for parking is high, however, and Crawford’s panel is aiming to help. The highways subcommittee on May 23 approved the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, which would authorize $755 million for state agencies to advance truck parking projects. Sponsored by Reps. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) and Angie Craig (D-Minn.), the bill awaits consideration on the House floor. A Senate companion bill has yet to be considered.

The issue caught the attention of the American Transportation Research Institute, which ranked inadequate access to parking No. 3 on its “Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry” list in 2022.

Reps. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) and Angie Craig (D-Minn.)

Reps. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) and Angie Craig (D-Minn.) 

“Truckers are trying to follow the rules,” Crawford said. “You tell them you’ve got to rest certain amounts of time, but you don’t give them any space to where they can. That creates safety problems, and it creates other issues [when] you’ve got on-ramps and off-ramps full of trucks because they don’t have anywhere else to park.”

Promoting safety throughout the transportation network is a priority for Crawford, and he stressed that passenger car drivers must focus just as much as professional truck drivers on keeping roads safe.

“Distractions are problematic, I think, and pervasive,” he said. “The other thing is just, quite frankly, a respect for others — respect for law enforcement, personal responsibility, those kinds of things.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined 42,795 individuals died in 2022, based on data about people involved in motor vehicle crashes. That marked a slight decrease from 2021’s estimate of 42,939.

Broadly, oversight of the Biden administration remains a consistent priority for House Republicans, and Crawford’s highways subcommittee is engaged in reviewing the implementation of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law. For Crawford, an examination of IIJA’s multiyear provisions has raised questions about the U.S. Department of Transportation’s management acumen.

“If I were giving it a letter grade, I’d probably give it about a D,” he said. “It hasn’t been a total failure, but we continue to hear some negative feedback with regard to where the money is going, how it’s flowing, and how it’s actually being manifested in terms of actual infrastructure investment.”

“I don’t want to be all negative, but it’s not good at this point,” he said.

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