ATRI: Parking availability test helped drivers find open spots, adhere to HOS regs

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An ATRI survey found that drivers prefer to receive parking updates through roadside signs 20 miles from the rest area with updates as they get closer.An ATRI survey found that drivers prefer to receive parking updates through roadside signs 20 miles from the rest area with updates as they get closer.

A recent study by the American Transportation Research Institute conducted to test the effectiveness of truck parking availability systems (TPAS) found that 60 percent of truck drivers that used the system indicated it “significantly” helped them find parking.

Additionally, ATRI says 30 percent of drivers indicated the systems had a “significant impact” in aiding them comply with hours-of-service regulations.

To conduct the study, ATRI had a multi-camera system developed and installed that detects truck parking stall occupancy at three rest areas along the I-94 corridor within 100 miles west of Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota, in Elm Creek, Enfield and Big Spunk Lake.

The open stall information was relayed to drivers from the camera systems in three ways: through a web portal, an in-cab application integrated into an existing on-board device and through roadside electronic message signs. An ATRI survey found that drivers prefer to receive the information through roadside signs, followed by smartphone apps, websites, then on-board devices.

For roadside signs, drivers indicated they prefer to receive the information 20 miles away from the rest area, and more than 30 percent of drivers who responded to the survey indicated they would like more than one notification.

“A number of drivers noted that rest areas are typically spaced 30 to 50 miles apart in rural regions, and privately run truck stop options can be limited,” ATRI says in its report. “Adequate advance notice of truck parking availability would therefore assist drivers with scheduling their stopping location as well as ensure back-up options should their preferred location be full.”

During ATRI’s test, the group found that the occupancy data was within one parking spot of being correct 95 percent of the time, and within three spots of being correct between 99 and 100 percent of the time. The group says the errors mostly occurred overnight with reduced lighting and visibility, or with certain parking behaviors, such as parking over the line.

The group determined from its study that improvements “should be possible” with the system through cameras with better light detection or infrared lighting to help the cameras see the parking spots better.

In a separate study conducted by ATRI to determine how truck GPS data could be used to assess parking supply and demand, the group found that “truck parking capacity assessments can be developed using real world truck GPS data.” The test showed that overcapacity occurred at some locations more than others, and that all tested locations experienced overcapacity at some point during the one-month test in October 2015.

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