Data Feed Can Help Truckers Find Safe Spot to Rest

The commercial trucking industry is considered the lifeblood of our economy, moving more than 10.5 billion tons of freight in the U.S. each year. Trucks dominate freight movements because they can reach nearly any destination.

Truck drivers are critical to delivering groceries to our shelves, parts to our factories, and online orders to our front doors, and ensuring Ohio exports, such as crops and machinery, reach global markets.

But drivers need rest. The challenge lies in finding safe parking spots. Currently, three million drivers compete for just 300,000 spots designated for truck parking, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Trucks parked outside designated spots can be a hazard to the trucker and other motorists. (Photo credit: Overdrive Magazine)

Right now, no system exists to advise drivers of available spaces to stop for a break or to take their mandated rest, which occurs if they have been behind the wheel for 11 hours – the maximum driving limit set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Often the only sites to be found are unsafe or illegal, including freeway ramps, the shoulder of a road, or an unlit lot that is vulnerable to crime. Additionally, truckers – and anyone sharing the road with them – are at increased risk of a crash as startled motorists come upon big rigs parked in unexpected places.

It’s a predicament for police, too, who might issue a ticket and then must decide whether to make a sleepy driver move, potentially causing a crash down the road.

Smart Columbus consulted various trucking companies, the FHWA, the Ohio Department of Transportation, law enforcement, the Columbus Department of Public Safety, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) and application developers looking for solutions.

The resulting data feed from MAASTO – published here – includes available truck parking spots in public rest areas in Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. We encourage you to review the data and discover how apps or other solutions could help truckers find open spots.

We believe we need more data to make an open parking application truly robust. We invite private truck stops to send us their data as well. If you have other relevant information that could provide value, you are encouraged to share it.

Applications of truck parking data stand to be transformative: truckers, freight operators and logistics companies could improve safety, reduce delivery costs and increase freight movement connectivity, reliability and access to local, regional and international markets.

Police could use the app to help direct drivers to available parking areas.

Our ultimate vision is an application enabling truckers to reserve a spot, even before they leave distribution centers, that will also show parking site amenities from showers, to food options, to religious services. Help us take the first step.

Rest Area parking Availability