Work is underway to install technology at seven Minnesota rest areas to help truck drivers find safe parking along corridors where there is a lot of traffic. One of those rest areas, Heath Creek, is on Northbound Interstate 35 in southeast Minnesota. The regional truck parking information and management system will collect and broadcast parking availability on message signs.
Sometimes tired truckers have no choice but to park on exit ramps. MNDOT officials say this is often a safety concern, and they hope to save lives by getting sleepy truckers off the road.
"It's kind of one of those things that isn't rampant, but it's certainly to make sure that they have the information so they can pull over and find a spot," says Mike Dougherty with MNDOT public affairs, "There are also truck centers and those sorts of things where they can pull over. But this just helps expand their options."
Sometimes, truck drivers may spend 30 minutes or so looking for parking spots. MNDOT wants to help them find safe and reliable parking.
"I think there are some statistics that show out there that drowsy, sleepy drivers are much more dangerous whether you're driving a truck or any kind of vehicle," Dougherty continues, "Especially so with a big rig with a lot of weight. You know, we want to make sure that they're rested, attentive, and focused fully on the driving."
Minnesota is working with seven other states to implement the system. The network is expected to become operational in January of 2019.