The two Detroit-based firms behind the recently developed digital network that provides real-time parking information to commercial truck drivers, announced Monday plans to take the system nationwide.
Developed by Truck Smart Parking Services and HNTB Corp., the system has detection cameras and other sensors installed at rest areas and private facilities to collect accurate parking availability data. The information is then aggregated, consolidated, and distributed through the TSPS website, smart-phone applications, roadside signs,and other third-party data services.
“Breakthroughs like this are what keep our nation’s freight transportation industry moving forward, and it’s exciting to witness today’s commonplace technology combine with the latest connected vehicle advances to solve an age-old problem (of finding a parking place),” says Harry Voccola, chairman of Truck Smart Parking Services. “We’re ready to bring this to other states and their busy freight corridors across the country.”
Voccola says it’s not uncommon for commercial truck drivers to spend 30 minutes or more searching for a place to park their rigs. At times, drivers may feel the need to stop in unsafe places, which increases risks for them and other motorists, wastes fuel, and expels unnecessary emissions.
Considering average truck operating costs, saving a driver 15 minutes during their regular parking routine could save $4.4 billion each year across the 400,000 parking events that occur daily. Likewise, each driver could save an average of two gallons of diesel and reduce greenhouse emissions by nearly 45 pounds by parking more quickly.
The network was initially developed for the Michigan Department of Transportation in part to satisfy performance metrics established under the federal surface transportation authorization. A pilot program was recently deployed along a 130-mile stretch of I-94.
Each day, the corridor on I-94 supports 10,000 commercial trucks, accounting for up to 30 percent of all its traffic and representing some of the highest commercial volumes in the entire Midwest. Even so, the corridor offers a maximum parking capacity of 160 spaces in five public rest areas.
“We worked with our federal and private sector partners to implement this innovative system, putting valuable real-time information into commercial carriers’ hands,” says Kirk T. Steudle, director of MDOT. “Safety is the top priority on our highway system, and that includes helping freight carriers make smarter, safer parking decisions. To maximize safety and value to freight carriers, we need to continue to work with private sector partners and expand the network across the state along major freight networks.”
Looking forward, the system’s adaptability is its most valuable feature, says Eric Morris, project manager at HNTB Corp. “It is scalable elsewhere and can be deployed quickly and efficiently at public and private parking facilities in any state. Our ultimate vision is a ubiquitous multistate, corridor-focused network that covers a trucker’s route from origin to destination.”