New app tests process of identifying available truck parking
Driving down the interstate, you get a feel for all the commerce that moves in the trailers of semis. With “Safety First” as a core value of the Iowa Department of Transportation, we’re doing everything we can to support professional drivers, including assisting in research to help them find parking when they need to rest.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is funding the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to conduct a one-year study of truck parking along parts of I- 80 in Iowa and I-94 in Wisconsin. The study includes the testing of a smartphone app called “ParkUnload.” The premise is that professional drivers will download the app and then check in and out of designated parking spaces at rest areas included in the study.
Jolanda Prozzi, a division head for the Texas A&M University Transportation Institute said, “Participation in the test is helping us explore the feasibility of implementing a new, low-cost technology that will inform all truck drivers with the app of where and how many truck parking spaces are available at the different parking areas.”
In Iowa, the rest areas included in the study are both east- and west-bound on I-80 near Mitchellville, Victor, and Wilton. In July, green paint was applied to specific spaces in these rest areas and signs were installed with instructions for drivers to check in and out of these spaces.
Prozzi observed that professional drivers were very interested in anything that could help them identify open parking spaces. “The drivers I spoke to were open to the process,” she said. “They all have stories to tell about how they struggle to find safe parking, so anything we can do to assist them is worth the effort.”
Phil Mescher, who works with Iowa’s truck parking efforts said, “This study is just one piece of a much larger truck parking puzzle. For the Iowa DOT, this particular project took nothing more than some staff time to assist the study partners and it is just a small portion of what we’re working on in Iowa to improve parking for commercial vehicles.”
Find information on other truck parking initiatives in Iowa and our regional neighbor states at https://trucksparkhere.com/.