Imagine driving a large truck loaded with consumer goods while operating on a tight deadline. Your customers and employers are counting on you.
The nation’s economy is counting on you.
But there’s no parking.
Delivery truck drivers tell NBC 5 Investigates there’s no bigger obstacle than parking in downtown Chicago. In fact, the drivers say they often have no choice but to block-in other vehicles that are parked on the street.
“It’s either you double park or you don’t make the delivery,” said soft drink truck driver Jeremey Yancey.
Long-time UPS driver Sergio Moreno said he will leave his phone number on the other driver’s car if he has to double-park.
“I might have to delivery three or four buildings from this one spot for the lack of parking,” Moreno said.
Members of Teamsters Local 727, which represents soda truck drivers, said some loading zones aren’t large enough for their trucks.
“Basically, you have a bus stop, a fire hydrant or double parking in order to make your deliveries without circling around the block an hour for each stop,” said union member Matt Dixon.
Delivery drivers are often ticketed for double-parking in Chicago. Public records show the city collected more than $3.5 million in double parking fines between 2016-2018, although it is unclear how much of that revenue was generated by delivery trucks.
The city says it has taken the delivery drivers concerns into consideration and is working on a solution.
The drivers said in most cases, their employers handle the payment of any double parking tickets they receive. But drivers said they are responsible for paying tickets for parking in front of a fire hydrant or bus stop.
Additionally, delivery drivers said one of the most difficult parts of their job is dealing with other vehicles that cut them off.
“We’re in a truck, they’re in a car. We can’t stop as fast as they can,” said soda truck driver John Wigmore.
Drivers of other vehicles who are distracted or texting also pose a concern, according to the delivery drivers.
Still, Moreno said UPS continually pushes safety to all of its delivery drivers.
“They always make you look ahead and think ahead and make you self-aware of what the situation is in front of you and behind you,” Moreno said.
But the Teamsters we interviewed said their once sought-after jobs are getting more difficult, in part, due to an ever-impatient public.
“You have people cuss at you, swear at you,” Yancey said. “They’re a consumer. So we’re making the delivery for them to buy the product. I think people don’t get that.”
They also said they have witnessed crime while on the job and have been even been targeted themselves.
“A guy, he didn’t want to let me by. I can’t make a left turn and I can’t go back,” said union member Andre Henderson. “He decides to go in his car and get a crowbar out and comes to the window and start hitting on the window telling me to get out the truck.”
Still, the drivers said they enjoy meeting people and developing friendships with their customers. They also said people who hold the door open as they make deliveries helps them tremendously.
“You don’t know how much easier you just made my life,” Wigmore said.