Tennessee starts ‘smart’ truck parking pilot program


The second part of a ‘smart’ truck parking pilot program will be operational in Tennessee by the end of the month. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has partnered with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) on the SmartPark project, which will study the feasibility of providing real-time parking information to truckers on the road. Following the successful phase one ‘proof of concept’ demonstration, the second phase will demonstrate technology to disseminate information about truck parking availability in real-time to drivers, as well as network an adjacent truck rest area. The project is seen as a precursor for an ITS ‘smart parking corridor’ that will allow drivers to identify available parking, reserve a spot for a predetermined amount of time, and use the parking to ensure their journeys are safe and meet FMCSA’s hours of service regulations.

Two study sites are being opened on the northbound side of I-75 at Bradley and McMinn, which will be networked in real-time so truckers can be diverted from one site to the other when spaces fill up. The project, which has been led by the Gannett Fleming consultancy, uses a combination of cameras and Doppler radar detectors to sense trucks and other large vehicles entering and exiting the rest areas’ parking lots. The detectors, along with parking lot capacity information and other characteristics, are used to determine the site occupancy and availability of usable truck parking on a real-time basis. The detection system was selected after the Phase 1 tests showed the technology exceeded the performance requirements of 95% accuracy and 95% classification consistency based on vehicle length. Although video imaging and magnetometer systems met the occupancy requirements, neither provided the classification accuracy thresholds.

Once operational, truck drivers will be able visit a website to reserve parking at the McMinn and Bradley sites, with a SmartPark smartphone application also available for download. Truck parking was first identified as a nationwide problem in the mid-1990s, after Congress asked that the issue be examined by the US Department of Transportation. Initial ideas for SmartPark began development with a 2000 National Transportation Safety Board recommendation that the federal administration create a printed paper guide to inform truckers of locations and availability of parking. If the pilot proves successful, the FMCSA hopes that other states will adopt the technology demonstrated in the project to increase truck parking availability across the country.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).