WASHINGTON — Truck-counting devices are valuable tools to ensure that carriers have places to park.
Wei Sun, a researcher at University of Florida’s Transportation Institute, along with a fellow researcher and a professor, studied devices that count trucks parked at rest areas. They tested three systems to detect parking availability at a pair of rest areas off Interstate 75 in Florida. The systems used both in-pavement sensors and data collection devices mounted on poles. They found that all three systems had more than 95% accuracy.
Wei Sun by Eleanor Lamb/Transport Topics
The researchers also collected “video ground-truth data,” which tracked ingress and egress movements. Through the video data, Sun found that trucks made up 88% of vehicles parked in lots designated for trucks. Some 5% of the other vehicles were recreational vehicles, and others were passenger vehicles and motorcycles.
“Being able to communicate with truck drivers for parking availability information helps them make better decisions and avoid unnecessary stops,” Sun said at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting Jan. 8. “To do this, it is important to implement vehicle detection technology.”
Truck parking is an important issue for the industry. The shortage of available truck parking ranked No. 4 on American Transportation Research Institute’s list of most pressing concerns for the industry, which was released Oct. 23.
Sarah Hernandez, assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Arkansas, said her research indicated 75% of truck drivers reported regular problems with finding safe parking.
Truck drivers contend with federal hours-of-service rules, which require operators to park after 11 hours of service. ATRI research analyst Caroline Boris said that drivers often feel pressed for time to find parking before exceeding their HOS limits.
If drivers cannot find sufficient parking, they frequently pull over to the sides or ramps of interstates for their necessary rest breaks. ATRI conducted a study and found that 36.5% of drivers said they parked in unauthorized places, such as on the side of a highway, three or four times a week.
“Sometimes drivers do it because they don’t know where truck parking is,” Boris said. “They stop because they run out of time.”
Boris said solutions to the truck parking issue include lengthening the amount of time trucks are allowed to park at public rest areas, allowing parking at weigh stations and reducing zoning laws dictating who can park at private stops. She said that weigh station officials sometimes express reservations over allowing trucks to park on-site because of concerns regarding illegal activity and custodial costs.
The new electronic logging device mandate has increased concern over truck parking availability for many fleets. The ELD mandate, which took effect Dec. 18, calls for most commercial drivers who are required to record their hours of service to use electronic devices rather than paper logs.
The ELD mandate ranked No. 2 on ATRI’s list of most critical issues.
Boris agreed that ELD requirements would heighten concern over finding available parking, and recommended a “hybrid solution” that involves building more parking spaces and investing in technology that heralds the availability of spots.