Today’s Pickup: Midwestern states seek technological solution to parking shortage

Good day,

According to a recent survey cited by the Iowa Department of Transportation, 83% of commercial drivers spend at least 30 minutes looking for parking.

“We know that here in Iowa, our rest areas are overfilled most nights and trucks end up parked on the ramp shoulder. It’s unfortunate and dangerous, but truck drivers have limited information to find available parking,” said Phil Mescher, transportation planner with Iowa DOT.

According to Mescher, the problem isn’t necessarily solved by building more parking spaces. It can be helped dramatically, though, through accurate, real-time information on where available spots are located.  

Iowa is teaming with seven other Midwestern state DOTs to build a new system to do just that. “In understanding how goods are transported, it makes sense to take a broader, regional approach,” Mescher said. The states, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, have applied for a federal grant to build a real-time notification system of available parking at public rest areas and private truck stops.

According to Iowa DOT, each state is working on its own system, but the grant would fund an integrated Truck Parking Information and Management System (TPIMS) that would collect all that information to help drivers find parking across the region.

“In Iowa, we are looking to use intelligent transportation systems technology like pavement sensors, cameras, and radar to detect open parking spaces and then make that data available in-cab to drivers, either on their existing routing systems or by a hands-free smart phone app that is compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s safety rules,” Mescher said. “The information will also be made available through Iowa’s 511 page. Having systems in place that can be easily accessed by truck drivers will help them better manage their hours of service.”

The data will be fed to carriers’ TMS systems, allowing them to distribute the information accordingly. Iowa recently chose a vendor for the project and the system is expected to be in testing by fall 2018. The anticipated date for Iowa’s system to be complete is Jan. 4, 2019.

Did you know?

According to the National Transportation Institute, driver pay has risen just 6.3%, unadjusted for inflation, since 2006.


“(Expletive) them early and (expletive) them often … I mean, (expletive), sell it to them the way they wanna buy.”

– Alleged comments from former Pilot Vice President of Sales John “Stick” Freeman, to his staff in a secretly recorded meeting. The comments are expected to be introduced as evidence in his trial.

In other news:

U.S. trade gap widens in September

Exports reached their highest level since December 2014, but continue to grow at a slower rate than imports, according to government data. (Wall Street Journal)

Arizona governor wants commercial rest stops

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants to privatize interstate rest stops, hoping that the revenue businesses will pay the state will help fund more projects. (Arizona Daily Sun)

Republican tax plan would cut credits for electric vehicles, affect bonding

The GOP’s tax plan unveiled last week would eliminate a $7,500 credit for purchasing electric vehicles and also end two types of bonds that states frequently use to fund infrastructure projects. (AASHTO Journal)

Surge in driver pay coming

According to the National Transportation Institute, a surge in driver pay is expected as fleets continue to address an aging driver population. (Fleet Owner)

Pilot Flying J case heads to court

Jurors are expected to hear testimony of how Pilot Flying J’s sales division was corrupt and that led to the diesel fuel rebate scandal. (Transport Topics)

Final Thoughts

Jury selection begins today in the case of four former Pilot executives accused of being involved in a diesel fuel rebate scandal. The Chattanooga trial is sure to draw a lot of attention, and undoubtedly, pull the curtain back a bit on how Pilot Flying J did business.  

Hammer down everyone!

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.