MnDOT Tries to Ease Truck Parking Shortage
Anyone who is a truck driver knows that fatigue is a tough part of the job. That’s why Minnesota is one of eight states installing technology at rest areas to help drivers find parking spaces when they need to get off the road.
“We think it’s a win-win situation for everybody,” said MnDOT’s Dan Rowe. “Get tired truckers off the road. Safer situation.”
Truck drivers are visible every day as they constantly carry freight across U.S. highways. The job is a grind and when it’s time to power down for the night, parking isn’t easy.
“Finding safe reliable parking is difficult,” Rowe said. “They can spend over a half hour looking for parking spots.”
On a typical day at the Elm Creek rest stop off I-94, there are plenty of available parking spaces, but in the evening those fill up quickly.
“The ruling is if you are not in a rest area by 7 [p.m.] or a truck stop by 7, you’re sleeping on the ramps because there is not enough parking spots,” said Brian Cole a truck driver from Burnsville.
Because of this parking crunch, MnDOT will soon be using technology in seven Twin Cities rest areas, including the Elm Creek rest stop, that tells truckers where there is room to park their rig.
“That would be a great thing I guess,” said Vir Sran a truck driver from Manitoba, Canada “So we can decide where we are parking. It will be a great deal.”
“That way you can keep rolling and find something,” Cole said. “If you keep going and it’s full all the time, you’re wasting time.”
The tecnology uses a puck-shaped device called a magnatometer that is buried in a parking space. When a truck pulls in, the puck picks up the metal and sends a signal to a nearby control box, which relays the information to a sign on the interstate.
“We will be able to tell the truckers with a sign down the road how many spots are available so they can make an informed decision if they want to pull in and park,” Rowe said.
The signs should be up and running by early summer and will hopefully ease the search for those coveted parking spots. MnDOT says this will be a seamless transition and the signs will look the same in the seven other states.