Anil Merchant, Chief Product Officer
New survey results show how parking at the curb is a growing problem for delivery drivers
One year ago we surveyed delivery drivers across the country to better understand the day-to-day challenges they face as our streets’ most frequent users. From limited curb availability and wasted minutes finding a place to park to illegally parking to save time, we learned delivery drivers are confronted with day-to-day challenges that impact their earning potential and their ability to conduct business safely – while also creating more safety hazards and congestion for other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Since then, e-commerce has continued to grow, with an increase of nearly 8% from 2021 to 2022. And this year, we can expect to more than double that rate, with an expected increase of 18% in 2023, further exacerbating the challenges commercial drivers face and placing increasing pressure on cities to come up with creative solutions.
In order to better understand how this growth is directly impacting commercial drivers – and better understand the most promising solutions – one year after issuing the first survey we surveyed delivery drivers again using the same questions (and a few additional ones). With help from The Rideshare Guy, a leading online resource for gig workers and delivery drivers, we collected 152 responses in total from a similar pool of drivers – with major regions across the U.S. represented and driver experience spanning multiple companies and platforms, including FedEx, Amazon, USPS, Lyft, Grubhub, Postmates, Doordash and Amazon Flex. Here’s what we discovered this time.
Drivers are increasingly wasting more time searching for parking. Compared to 7.5% last year, less than 2% of drivers find parking when they first arrive at the curb, with 25% continuing to circle if they can’t find a spot. Not only does this contribute to rising congestion and emissions, but requires more fuel, which can cut substantially into drivers’ earnings.
Further, drivers are continuing to spend as much, if not more, time searching for parking than they are making their pick-up or delivery. On average, drivers are parked somewhere between 3 and 10 minutes and more than 75% of drivers spend more than 4 minutes searching for a place to park, up 40% from last year. This will continue to be a major problem for both fleet operators and gig workers – because their revenue and their wages/tips depend on efficiency, from how many deliveries they are able to make to their ability to speedily deliver someone a hot meal. Additionally, the varying short-term park durations of commercial drivers make a strong case for a pay-by-the-minute approach that only requires drivers to pay for the time they need versus paying for time they do not use.
Drivers are also increasingly resorting to parking in a spot not meant for them or double-parking when they cannot find a spot, up nearly 15% from last year, with double-parking up 10%. As a result, drivers are creating more safety hazards for themselves and for others using the public right of way, with nearly 60% of drivers having gotten into an accident because they did not have a safe place to park.
Another valuable indicator – parking tickets are on the rise. When asked how often they receive tickets, more than 25% of drivers said 1 to 3 times per month, up by 20%. This is a major problem – for everyone. As competition for safe, legal parking space increases, we can only expect more and more drivers to resort to illegal and/or double-parking, creating unnecessary safety hazards; increasing congestion; putting undue burden on enforcement personnel and city resources; and strapping fleet operators and drivers with costly, non tax deductible tickets that impact their earnings, especially for gig workers who have to pay out of their own pocket.
Another compelling discovery – drivers are now paying for parking far more often and spending more time paying for parking than they did a year ago. Compared to just 50% last year, more than 90% of drivers always pay for parking vs. park for free. And, of those that pay, more than 75% spend more than 1 to 2 minutes going through the process of paying, up from 35% last year, with 40% spending more than 3 to 5 minutes. For many, that’s 50% of the total time they spend parked, now completely dedicated to the payment process.
Payment is also a growing deterrent for safe, legal parking because it’s too expensive. In addition to impacting driver efficiency and taking up valuable time, nearly 20% of drivers shared that the most common reason they cannot find parking at the curb is because available spots are too expensive – a strong indicator that existing policies and rate structures do not fit the short-term needs of commercial drivers. This makes a compelling case for more dynamic approaches, such as pay-by-the-minute or tiered rates that reward shorter stops.
Based on our updated findings, it is increasingly clear that commercial drivers and the cities they operate in would benefit from a fully automated payment solution that saves drivers valuable time; enables more designated short-term curb parking; minimizes distracted driving; reduces the need to double-park; and supports more dynamic, tiered rate structures that only charge drivers for the minutes they use while also rewarding shorter stops. Over 65% of the drivers we surveyed expressed that their parking experience would be improved by an automated payment solution, up by nearly 15% from last year.
Additionally, the technology that supports fully automated payment solutions could benefit drivers and cities in other critical ways, too. For instance, the same technology could be used by cities to automatically enforce violations in real time, either by automatically issuing the owner of the vehicle a citation or alerting nearby enforcement personnel when a violation is detected. This would ensure drivers not in compliance are cited every time, disincentivizing repeat behavior, while also ensuring there is available parking space for compliant vehicles.
Furthermore, cities can use the technology to collect and analyze comprehensive curb and traffic activity data to implement smarter, data-driven policies reflective of actual demand. Or, cities could offer commercial drivers a way to view a map on their phone that shows real-time curb availability so they know whether a space is available or occupied – in fact, nearly 70% of survey respondents expressed that their parking experience would be improved if they were able to view such a map.
Hearing directly from drivers is an integral part of our product development process and will continue to inform the evolution of our technology and the diverse set of solutions it can support for commercial drivers, cities and their residents. We’d like to extend a huge thank you to all the drivers who took the time to respond to our survey.