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Trucks Park Here launches in Iowa, aiding truck drivers in finding a parking spot

Semis park in the truck parking area in Williamsburg on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. Markings on the pavement indicate where sensors have been installed as part of a program by Iowa DOT, which has joined seven other states to create pilot programs to log truck parking availability and create real-time data to provide to those on the road. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Semis park in the truck parking area in Williamsburg on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. Markings on the pavement indicate where sensors have been installed as part of a program by Iowa DOT, which has joined seven other states to create pilot programs to log truck parking availability and create real-time data to provide to those on the road. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Iowa’s smart truck parking system, which aims to connect truck drivers to safe, convenient parking options, has launched.

Omaha-based eX² Technology on Monday announced the launch of Trucks Park Here, Iowa’s Truck Parking Information Management System, TPIMS). The program began operations on Friday.

“We’re really pleased with how seamless the project implementation went and the overall effectiveness of the solution,” Kyle Hildebrand, vice president of project development with eX² Technology, said in a Monday release. “We leveraged our success with the Colorado DOT TPIMS deployment to deliver a reliable and economically feasible solution that was right for Iowa. In the process, we perfected a standardized, off-the-shelf product that we can implement quickly throughout other states across the country.”

This summer, the Iowa Department of Transportation announced a partnership with seven other Midwest states to pursue a pilot program for an information system that would help bridge the gap between truck drivers and safe parking spaces.

The program aims to address concerns of safety and the financial loss that occurs when drivers spend wasted minutes searching for a parking space.

Iowa’s Trucks Park Here program provides real-time information on available truck parking spaces for public rest areas, private truck stops and other available facilities along Iowa’s major corridors — I-80, I-29, I-35, I-235 and I-380.

Trucks Park Here includes 41 truck parking facilities, including 24 public rest areas, 15 privately owned truck stops, one privately owned restaurant and one privately owned casino, according to a Monday release. Three new sites will be added in early 2019.

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Parking information is accessible through application developers, in-cab navigation system makers and others looking to use the parking information, said Phillip Mescher, a travel, forecasting and telemetrics team leader with Iowa DOT.

Mescher said the program will run for three years and then be evaluated to determine if the state wishes to continue or modify the effort.

The TPIMS effort, funded largely by a federal $25 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, stems from 2012 legislation dubbed Jason’s Law.

That law, which supports nationwide truck parking projects, is named for Jason Rivenburg, a commercial truck driver who died on the job in 2009. Rivenburg was unable to find a rest area or truck stop while in South Carolina and parked to rest at an abandoned gas station, where he was robbed and killed.

According to the Regional TPIMS website, more than 9.2 billion tons of freight cross the country each year.

Large trucks account for nearly 13 percent of all fatal crashes in the United States, while freight trucks are involved in a quarter of all fatal work zone crashes, according to the site.

What’s more, driver fatigue plays a major role in collisions, accounting for 87 percent of all crashes where the truck was the main cause.

In addition to promoting safety, the program also should help reduce the time truck drivers spend looking for a parking space, officials with the program said.

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Combined, every 15-minute search for truck parking costs close to $4.4 billion a year, according to TPIMS.

Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin are participating in the program, using the federal grant supplemented with $3.7 million in state contributions.

Iowa received nearly $3.4 million in the federal funds and will chip in about $500,000 in state dollars.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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