Transportation researchers are pushing for the implementation of truck parking detection technologies. Their study revealed that the system could be crucial to helping truck drivers find available parking areas — for which there is already a shortage.
The hours-of-service rules require drivers to stop driving and park their vehicles after their driving limit is over for the day. However, drivers often struggle to find an available parking area before their HOS clock ends, according to Caroline Boris, a research analyst at the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).
The ARTI’s study showed that 36.5 percent of drivers park in unauthorized areas, like the side of a highway, three or four times a week. They do so because they cannot find an available parking space before reaching their HOS limit, or they just don’t know where the authorized parking sites are.
“Sometimes drivers do it because they don’t know where truck parking is. They stop because they run out of time,” Boris said.
Boris, Wei Sun, a researcher of the Transportation Institute of the University of California, and Sarah Hernandez, assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Arkansas, presented the results of their study during the Transportation Research Board’s 97th Annual Meeting held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
The board’s annual meeting was held from January 7 to January 11.
The ELD mandate that took effect on December 18 of last year has amplified the trucking parking spaces shortage problem.
Boris concurred that prevailing ELD requirements would worsen truckers’ anxiety over finding available parking spaces.
In a list compiled by the ATRI, the FMCSA’s ELD mandate ranked second among the most critical concerns of the trucking industry. On the other hand, the scarcity of truck parking spaces ranked at #4 as the biggest concern of America’s trucking industry.
Boris proposed a “hybrid solution” that requires creating more truck parking spaces and investing in technology that pinpoints available slots.
To solve the shortage of authorized parking areas for trucks, Boris recommended the following solutions:
Meanwhile, Wei Sun said that he, Boris, and Hernandez had studied devices that counted trucks parked at rest areas. The three researchers then conducted tests on three systems to detect parking availability at two rest areas off Florida’s Interstate 75.
The three systems used in-pavement sensors and data collection devices that were mounted on poles, and the researchers found that the systems had more than 95 percent accuracy rate.
Sun and his fellow researchers also gathered “video ground-truth data,” which monitored vehicles that enter and leave the rest areas.
The video data, according to Sun, showed that CMVs made up 88 percent of vehicles parked in designated spaces for trucks while about five percent of the remaining vehicles were RVs or recreational vehicles.
The rest were passenger cars and motorcycles.
Sun said: “Being able to communicate with truck drivers for parking availability information helps them make better decisions and avoid unnecessary stops. To do this, it is important to implement vehicle detection technology.”
Hernandez told that her study revealed that 75 percent of truck drivers found it difficult to locate authorized and safe parking places.
The only permanent solution is to create more truck parking spaces. Investing in parking detection technology would also help.
In the meanwhile, however, electronic logging devices with intuitive hours-of-service clocks can help commercial drivers manage their trips more efficiently. If through regular alerts and notifications, drivers know how much time they have left on their clock, they can manage accordingly and find a safe parking space in time.