According to recent research released by the American Transportation Research Institute, accuracy and thorough standardization will make or break efforts to help ease the current truck parking capacity challenges taking place throughout the United States.
The study, which focused on a survey of 1,103 truckers, analyzed perspectives from truck drivers themselves in regards to truck parking information system capabilities. The research also looked into data collected from cross-tabulates within a variety of trucker experience levels, age groups, and sectors. Additionally, the study analyzed how parking information systems are currently utilized by truck drivers and how these drivers perceive the ways in which parking availability data is released.
Of the survey’s participants, one-third noted that to help them find parking availability, they often use both message signs and trucking parking apps. However, ATRI explained that both of these methods have caveats and limitations in regards to quickly and easily finding parking can be. For example, with an app, a truck driver must typically be parked or pulled over to use it in order to find a parking spot due to federal regulations regarding using a cell phone while driving. As of now, many state departments of transportation are looking into boosted trucking parking initiatives that would likely use entrance and exit sensors to indicate when parking is available, among other technologies.
From state-to-state, though, many programs’ methods of collecting and releasing parking information varies, ATRI noted.
“Until we get an infrastructure bill that dramatically increases capacity, the next best thing we have are truck parking information system apps,” said Dan Murray, Senior Vice President of ATRI. “One of the biggest messages that this research conveys is that there’s a lot of complexity and confusion out there.”
Murray also noted that it can be difficult for a trucker to have to use multiple apps in order to find an open spot quickly.
“There’s nearly half a dozen apps available,” he said. “Many drivers are using [from] many [of them] to all of them concurrently. That sort of confusion will pretty much serve to drive people away from these systems rather than towards them.”
According to the survey, long haul truck drivers were the most likely to use smartphone-based truck parking apps, with young people also being the most frequent users–68.7% of truckers under the age of 45 said they often use these kinds of apps. This may indicate that younger drivers are much more comfortable using phone-based tech on the job, or that older truck drivers are more familiar with their routes and where to find parking in a pinch.
Additionally, over half of survey participants noted that they usually will ignore message sign information in regards to parking availability, which shows a lack of faith in the accuracy of this posted information–deeming parking space monitoring system accuracy an important piece of solving the parking availability concern, ATRI said. A push notification method of reaching truckers could be a solution, though, as this kind of automated alert would reduce potential distraction for drivers and help them use their phone less while looking for parking, while still notifying them of important parking-related information.
“This is sort of a win-win for everybody,” Murray explained. “The driver is not distracted, [he] gets real-time information and you’re letting him know what he needs to know without him having to actively search out the information.”
ATRI plans to collaborate with Natso, a truck stop association, during the next phase of its research around this issue. It will also work alongside truck driver groups, tech vendors, and state departments of transportation in order to find the best methods of regulating and standardizing truck parking information systems throughout the United States.
“This new research on driver issues and preferences toward truck parking information systems is hopefully a first step in developing a national driver-centric system, built on clear standards and approaches,” said American Trucking Associations’ America’s Road Team captain and Werner Enterprises driver, Bill Hambrick.
Because the truck parking information systems and technologies being developed and utilized in the public sector vary so often and implement differing information distribution methods, ATRI and its Research Advisory Committee have conceptualized their research into this pressing issue. Truck parking availability continues to be a major concern for the trucking industry as a whole, and currently ranks as number 3 on ATRI’s list of Top Industry Issues.