FMCSA pursues ITS overnight parking solution for trucks

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has contracted a company to develop an automated “SmartPark” system to make it easier for long-haul truck drivers to determine where overnight truck parking is available on major highways.

Drivers looking to pull over and catch some z’s often arrive at service centers that are full and are forced to park in unsafe locations.

According to the FMSCA, currently no method has been demonstrated for accurately and reliably determining the number of spaces available for truck parking. While technologies are available for cars, the same technologies may not be directly applied to trucks without some effort.

Trucks pose a more serious challenge because of their variation in size and shape. A method for accurately and reliably determining the number of spaces available for truck parking spaces in real time is needed before truck drivers can be informed of the availability of safe, legal parking while they are on the road.

Foster-Miller has won a $396,000 contract to use the Charlton service area on the Massachusetts Turnpike for Phase I of the program. The system Foster-Miller proposes will use video cameras mounted at the entrance and exit ramps to count vehicles entering and leaving the facility. Image processing software in the cameras will distinguish between trucks, tractors and other vehicles based on overall length.

When the software detects a vehicle entering or exiting the facility, it will signal an offsite data collection and management system (DCMS) via a wireless Internet connection. The DCMS will use the data to adjust the vehicle count in real time. Eventually, the system will broadcast parking availability information to truckers.

“Foster-Miller has been involved in fatigue-related human factors research for the past decade,” said Dr. William Ribich, president and CEO. “This is another step in our continuing commitment to helping the transportation industry address and solve problems caused by fatigue.”

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