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Maryland DOT Partners on Trucking Analytics Project

A parking study examining where and when truckers were parking at a Maryland rest area offered detailed data about when parking was unavailable. The data could improve management of freight trucks in the state.

by / January 5, 2021
Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff

New detailed parking data from a welcome center in Maryland is allowing transportation planners to better understand how truckers are using these rest stops and develop improved management strategies. 

A study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and INRIX, closely monitored the use of a welcome center on I-95 in Laurel between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Researchers, working with MDOT, geofenced the area where trucks are allowed to park. This showed when and where trucks were parking on areas like ramps and shoulders, which are considered off limits for safety reasons.

“We really wanted to understand the type of parking and the data helps us do that, which is a critical piece of intel that the state wanted to know,” said Nicole Katsikides, a researcher at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. “We were able to use the counts from the INRIX data to get a sense of how many were parking in those different [time] bins.” 

INRIX, a transportation data and analytics firm, was able to provide detailed use and movement data from commercial freight vehicles, offering a greatly expanded view of the activity at any given time and location compared to traditional manual counts. This level of data could lead to even more finely tuned management. State officials could ultimately direct truckers to other routes or parking when certain areas fill up.

“This type of information is very eye-opening for a DOT,” said Katsikides, during a recent webinar, organized by INRIX. “Because when we start talking about the TSMOS [transportation system management and operations strategies] ways that we could push information to truck drivers, [we can] say, ‘Here’s an alternative route, and here’s some parking that might be available.’” 

The analytics firm has already partnered with in-cab truck alert service Drivewyze to bring real-time information to truckers related to slow-downs, road closures or queuing. The alerts prompt drivers to become aware of the traffic issues before they arrive. 

Drivewyze in-cab devices and software are in a number of trucks and serve as crucial interfaces for drivers needing updates on road conditions. However, the system does notify trucks of abrupt slowdowns in traffic, which is how INRIX data is able to expand the Drivewyze system. 

“For those kinds of things, we get out alerts. And that information can be provided to the truck drivers, in their in-cab device,” Terri Johnson, director of intelligent transportation management (ITS) solutions at INRIX, told Government Technology last year. 

“What we’re bringing is information on the traffic queues,” she added. “We’re letting them know, there is a queue in a certain area so that Drivewyze will alert the truckers and say, ‘Dangerous Slowdown.’” 

Using technology and data to gain insights into the traffic space occupied by truckers — and then communicating this information back to them — are seen as key steps to creating safer and more efficient highways for trucks and other motorists. 

“We see the ability of this data over time… to maybe tell us something in real time. And so we’d like to be able to set ourselves up for the ability of this data to potentially show us where trucking is over capacity, or under capacity, and to push that information to truck drivers as a truck-parking information system,” said Katsikides.

Skip Descant Staff Writer

Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.

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