Truck drivers are often squeezed between the business need to deliver a load to its destination quickly and the federal safety regulation that requires them to pull over and rest after reaching their hours-of-service limit.
One of the top challenges with fulfilling these mandatory rest periods is that parking an 18-wheeler takes far more planning and navigation than it does for passenger cars. As they near the maximum limit of 11 hours per day behind the wheel, professional drivers can easily spend 30 minutes searching for a safe place to park their tractor-trailer, where its large size, running lights, and idling engine won't pose a safety risk to passing cars.
Now, a consortium of eight Midwestern states may have found a way to ease the challenge, deploying a network of automated sensors that monitor dedicated truck parking spots to count open slots and display that number on digital highway signs.
Under a $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the states of Kansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin will install the sensors on regional interstates.
Like a motel "vacancy" sign for freight carriers, the "Truck Parking Information and Management System" will share parking data with passing truck drivers on platforms such as smartphone applications, dynamic road signage, and websites.