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U of MNUniversity of Minnesota
Center for Transportation Studies

A Comprehensive System for Assessing Truck Parking Availability

Principal Investigator:

Nikos Papanikolopoulos, Professor, Computer Science and Engineering

Co-Investigator:

Project Summary:

Truck driver fatigue has been a contributing factor in a number of heavy truck accidents. It is estimated that driver fatigue leads to about 40% of all truck accidents. While 90% of drivers perceive a shortage of parking, according to recent studies only 53% of truck stops are occupied on any given night.

This project will develop new technologies to provide truck drivers and carriers with up-to-date parking availability information to improve their operational decision-making. Evaluation of the proposed system will be carried out at a number of sites (public and private truck stops) along Interstate I-94.

A wide deployment of such systems in the future may also lead to improving traffic congestion and air quality. In particular, the project targets the development of an automated truck stop management system that can compute occupancy rates at truck stops and notify drivers and carriers about availability of parking spaces. The system uses variable message displays located along interstate highways a few miles before the upcoming truck stops. Aside from variable message signs, direct dissemination of information to the driver via an in-cab data provision system will be studied and analyzed.

Finally, a third delivery mechanism for parking space availability information will be a web information system. The proposed system will achieve this by using a set of video cameras, from which video frames will be analyzed in almost real-time. Because the cameras themselves are relatively inexpensive and can often use existing infrastructure implementation, costs are usually reasonable. The use of computerized cameras is a smart alternative to other vehicle detection systems such as beams and RFID tags that track vehicle entrance and exit but do not identify parking space availability. In addition, many facility managers are hesitant to use devices that infiltrate the substructure because of short- and long-term pavement damage that can arise.

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