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Truck driving school CEO revs up plan to solve parking crisis

Tra Williams is utilizing a partnership-based model, mixed with a timely app, to help truckers find a safe way to do a much needed part of the job when they aren’t driving: sleep.

Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, outside Miami, is a flagship host for ParkPro.
Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, outside Miami, is a flagship host for ParkPro.
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Think it’s hard to find a parking space at the mall or near your favorite restaurant? Try being a truck driver.

Federal law requires that truck drivers stop and rest for 10 hours after a certain number of hours on duty. But according to stats from the American Trucking Associations, there are currently more than 11 truck drivers for every one parking space.

As a result, the average driver spends almost an hour each day looking for parking, when they could be driving and moving goods instead. Almost all drivers report problems finding safe truck parking, and almost 60% of drivers wind up parking in unauthorized or undesignated spots at least three times a week, according to an American Trucking Association report. 

Tra Williams has been well aware of these problems as CEO of Bradenton’s FleetForce Truck Driving School for the last three-plus years. And he’s set out to solve it with his latest venture, ParkPro.

Also headquartered in Bradenton, ParkPro is a free web platform and app that connects truck drivers with available parking spaces. To create an inventory of spaces, Williams looked to a resource that has often been untapped: the frequently empty parking lots at stadiums, coliseums, arenas, malls and civic and conference centers.

“I’m a guy who is easily frustrated, and especially so when obvious solutions are in front of us and we can’t seem to get out of our own way,” says the longtime entrepreneur. “I pride myself on pointing these things out and working hard to bring others along. The way we’ve always done it, doesn’t mean we always have to do it that way.”

“America has more parking availability than the rest of the world combined,” he continues. “There are eight parking spaces in America for every car. We do not have a parking shortage; we have a shortage of connections between those who have available parking and those who need available parking. And that’s what ParkPro does.”

ParkPro founder Tra Williams says "we do not have a parking shortage," in the country. "We have a shortage of connections between those who have available parking and those who need available parking."
Courtesy image

To create a successful platform, Williams had to consider the needs of the individual drivers, the large companies that employ many of them and the host sites. The drivers need something easy to use, the companies need a reliable service for their employees and the hosts need a platform that makes it worth their while to offer up their empty parking spaces. 

ParkPro is currently recruiting and onboarding some 300 host sites nationwide, including flagship host Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, outside Miami. Each site listing will include information for drivers about how to get in and out of lots, where to park, where amenities are located and what to expect for security features on site. ParkPro is also working to get big trucking companies like Old Dominion Freight Line and Werner Enterprises onto the platform.

Once those two things are done, the service will be ready for individual drivers to use. The ParkPro website is already up and running as this process takes place, and the app is expected to go live in the second quarter of 2024.

“It’s been a steep learning curve, but the feedback we’ve been getting has been very positive,” says Williams, 50. “We’re hoping to be able to foresee as many pitfalls as possible so when we deploy the solution in May or June of this year, all of that time and delay and effort will be worth it. It may not be perfect, but what we will release will be a significant step forward in solving this challenge.” 

Hosts will set their own availability, capacity and pricing. “We give that ability to them to decide what works best for their facility,” says Williams. The cost of an hourly parking reservation will be paid by the driver, the carrier, or possibly both, and ParkPro gets a cut of the fees generated from the transactions.

Williams says it hasn’t been especially challenging to get hosts on board. “There’s been no convincing,” he says. “For every one of them, the light bulb came on and they said, ‘How can we participate?’ They see this obviously as an opportunity to leverage their existing asset and create a new revenue stream…But most of these venues have a vested stake in the community they serve and seem driven more by a willingness to participate and help solve the problem than they are in an immediate financial return.”

In addition to providing truck drivers with safe places to park and take required rest time, the ParkPro service will also help tackle another challenge in the industry: recruiting and retention.

According to ATA, the trucking industry has a shortage of more than 78,000 drivers and will need to hire 1.2 million new drivers over the next 10 years to keep up with increasing freight demands. Alix Miller, president and CEO of the Florida Trucking Association, admits that it’s a “tough sell” to convince people to join the industry, especially women, when there aren’t enough legal and secure parking spots for required rest periods.

“People like Tra and ParkPro are looking at creative, innovative solutions to solve the problem today to get these drivers in safe places, to give them options, and to improve our recruiting efforts and retention in the industry,” says Miller. “Those parking lots are made for thousands of vehicles. So if they’re being unused, what better way than to put them to very good use?”



Beth Luberecki

Nokomis-based freelance writer Beth Luberecki, a Business Observer contributor, writes about business, travel and lifestyle topics for a variety of Florida and national publications. Her work has appeared in publications and on websites including Washington Post’s Express, USA Today, Florida Trend, and Learn more about her at

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