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Paid parking for professional drivers is somewhat of a controversial topic. Some people love it, some people hate it, but we have all been affected by it one way or another.  To me, it is a convenience I am glad to pay for. The stress that is lifted off of me knowing I have a spot to park when I arrive is worth the money I spend on the spot. Being able to run longer than I normally would have is another added bonus. I am also fortunate that Nussbaum reimburses me if I need to pay for a spot, but I have paid for spots on my own before I had that benefit.

Why Should I Pay for Parking?

When paid parking started becoming more prevalent a couple of years ago, I was not a big supporter. It really seemed to gain steam right at the first phase of the ELD mandate. It felt to me like they were just taking advantage of us because they knew we wouldn’t have the flexibility to write our travel history the way we used to.  I was the “I’m never gonna pay for parking, no matter what” guy and I really meant it… until I needed it. When that happened, I grudgingly went inside, paid for my parking spot and grumbled all the way back to my truck. I was paying for this out of my pocket and it wasn’t going to be reimbursed, so I was a little miffed. So miffed in fact, I immediately got onto one of the trucking groups I followed on Facebook and ranted. Well, we all know how Facebook rants go, and the comments both pro and con started flowing.

I started reading and responding, and reading, and responding, and reading, and responding… it was a very long thread. At some point someone (I think it may have been fellow Team Run Smart Pro Linda Caffee) wrote that we didn’t have a right to park there, the truck stop was providing parking as a courtesy and had every right to charge for that space if they wished. It was not a right granted to me, it was a courtesy extended to me. 

Perspective is Everything

That really got me thinking about all that a parking spot really was. It wasn’t just a place to park my truck. It was also a place for me to relax and get some sleep. It was a place for me to watch TV, read a book, talk to my family, or even clean the interior of my truck. It was a place in close proximity to food and restrooms. That is worth something. 

That really changed my way of looking at paid parking. What was all of that worth to me? I was suddenly thankful for the free spots. This is when I started paying for parking all the time. Now, before you say it is a huge waste of money, I want you to know that I consider myself very frugal. I do not enjoy wasting my money or my employer’s money. I do, however, enjoy having a place to park. 

Wait? You Pay to Park Every Night?!

So, here is how I pay for parking every night… Whenever I stop to park, whether it is for the night or a quick pit stop, I make sure to purchase something. Nothing big, maybe just a bag of chips or a roll of Lifesavers. Maybe it is a bottle of water or a piece of fruit.  I might even sit down and have a meal. See, that truck stop, whether a chain or Mom and Pop stop, is providing a service to me. They are providing a place I can relax, and decompress. They are paying for the electricity, for lighting, the taxes for the property, and the paychecks for the people taking care of me inside their store. A bag of Cheetos is a pretty small price to pay for all of that.

So one way or another I am paying for that spot, and I am happy to do so.

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Clark W Reed

Clark Reed of Roscoe, Illinois is an OTR company driver and trainer for Nussbaum Transportation based out of Hudson, Illinois. He has been driving since 2005 and has driven van, reefer, and tanker. He currently hauls dry van to all lower 48 states. Clark is passionate about MPGs and how driver habits influence them. The lifetime average of his 2018 Cascadia is 9.75 mpg, with eyes on 10. Clark, along with Henry Albert, was one of the seven drivers in 2017's "Run on Less" by NACFE, a road show, demonstrating what fuel efficiency can be obtained with existing technologies.

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