Rest area parking system to help reduce trucker fatigue

Wisconsin joins six other states using system

A new system designed to monitor available rest area parking spaces for trucks and communicate that information on highway signs is operational in Wisconsin.

The Truck Parking Information Management Systems is functioning at four rest areas along Interstate 94. By the end of 2017 an additional seven rest areas along interstate highways will be added to the system.

“As our economy grows and our state gets back on track the movement of freight is becoming a much bigger and more important part of what we do. We anticipate that freight movement on our highway system will expand over 40 percent in the next 20 years,” said Mark Gottlieb, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

The TPIMS is an investment in the trucking industry in Wisconsin. The system was paid for through a $1 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration and a $3 million TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Officials hope the information posted on the highway signs will help truckers find an available space to rest. Federal regulations allow truckers to drive 11 hours during a 14-hour window. After that they must rest for a required 10 hours. Without the information about available parking spaces at rest areas, truckers are sometimes left to search for up to an hour for a safe location.

“The average over-the-road trucker spends 56 minutes every day looking for places to park that are safe, where he or she can get the necessary rest time they have and that 56 minutes a day translates into $4,600 annually in lost wages for that driver and for that company,” Gottlieb said.

In addition to improving efficiency, the TPIMS may also save lives as it may help get fatigued truck drivers off the road quicker.

The TPIMS relies on cameras in truck rest areas to provide video pattern recognition along with sensors in the pavement that monitor trucks pulling into and out of the lot. That information is then transmitted to the highway information signs.

Wisconsin is one of seven states in the upper Midwest committed to a truck parking information system. Officials hope the system will eventually be used throughout the country.