FMCSA explores parking notification system

| 8/7/2007

What if a highway message board could tell you how many truck parking spots are left at a rest area 30 miles down the road?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is exploring that concept.

FMCSA recently awarded a contract worth nearly $400,000 to the Boston-based technology company Foster-Miller to start researching the idea.

The company will put up special cameras at the Charlton service area on the Massachusetts Turnpike as part of the study. The cameras will be programmed to recognize tractor-trailers and count how many enter and leave an area relative to how many parking spots there are.

Foster-Miller Program Manager Judy Gertler told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio that the next step would be to get that information to truckers.

“The plan is – and it’s not part of the current phase of the project – to use either highway advisory radio or a variable-message sign placed about 50 miles away, as well as one placed about a mile away,” she said.

Gertler said her company’s job is strictly to get the cameras up and running, and show that they can count trucks and keep track of available parking spaces.

She said the FMCSA will decide whether it wants to fund phase two of the project – which would involve the use of message boards or radio notification of truckers.

– By Reed Black, staff writer