Thanks to a demo program starting this week, truckers will be able to access free, real-time parking availability info for two rest stops along the busy Interstate-95 North corridor between Richmond and Baltimore.
A project of the I-95 Corridor Coalition that has energy and automation technology company Schneider Electric delivering the functionality, the Truck 'N Park demonstration begins Friday, Nov. 20. It's designed so that truckers won't have to be distracted on the road to get info — they can call in on speakerphone and use a voice-prompt system to check on parking spaces.
"What's really good about the phone system is it's all interactive voice response. They don't have to look at their phone; they don't have to push any numbers. It's all speaking into the phone to get the information," explains Susan Michlik, senior traffic information coordinator at Schneider Electric working with Virginia Department of Transportation projects.
The program, which is being funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), will provide information on the I-95 N Ladysmith Safety Rest Stop in Ladysmith, VA and the I-95 N Welcome Center in Laurel, MD. The number to call is 855-875-7275, or 855-TRK-PARK. If it's safe to surf, truckers can also check www.I95TruckParking.com for continually updated parking availability data at the two rest stops.
Click below to map the two rest stop locations:
• I-95 North Ladysmith Safety Rest Area — about mid-way between Richmond and Fredericksburg, VA
• I-95 North Welcome Center at mile marker 37 — just north of the Washington, DC beltway (495) near Laurel, MD and slightly under 20 mi. south of Baltimore
Again, using the system during the demonstration, which will run for about four months, is free. The idea is to test it out, get feedback from truckers and possibly expand it going forward, Michlik says.
How will the system work? "There are two things: in-pavement sensors that can detect when a truck is parked there, and as a backup system they also do have cameras," she tells Fleet Owner. Those pavement sensors will be sending data constantly to keep the system's parking info up to "real time, for all intents and purposes," she adds.
"We want truckers to know this is available and where the rest stops are," Michlik notes. This demonstration continues FHWA's efforts to explore what can help with finding heavy truck parking, which truck drivers, dispatch personnel and fleet managers have told the agency is a serious problem across the nation — particularly in urban areas on weeknights.
More updates on the project are available at the Truck 'N Park Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Truck-N-Park-1654623861489474, or visit www.I95TruckParking.com to view an informational flier before the project goes live on Nov. 20.