Most motorways provide parking facilities, accessible from the motorway only. These parking facilities provide parking capacity to private car and truck drivers alike, to rest between journey legs. In particular for long haul truck drivers these facilities are important, as truck drivers need to comply with driving time regulations. Among others, these regulations determine that drivers need to rest every day for an uninterrupted period of nine hours. In practice this means that truck parking areas (TPAs) along major transport corridors quickly fill up in the evening.
On some corridors the truck parking capacity does not suffice to cope with peak demand. Truck drivers arriving at full truck parking areas are forced to choose between an incursion of parking regulations or driving time restrictions. Often they opt for parking on the parking’s slip road, with queues extending onto the motorway’s hard shoulder. These situations can lead to serious accidents when oncoming traffic notices the queue on the hard shoulder too late. Research has shown that truck parking overload is not evenly spread. Often sufficient parking spaces are available at truck parking areas (TPAs), or at privately operated truck stops, in the vicinity of overcrowded parking areas. If truck drivers would be informed on the occupancy of truck parking areas along their route, they could better plan when and where to park. This in turn would likely lead to less truck parking area overcrowding, and thus enhance road safety. Such an occupancy information system for truck parking would need to:
- Detect incoming and outgoing traffic per parking area, determining the vehicle class (trucks versus private cars)
- Relate the incoming and outgoing truck count to each truck parking area capacity
- Aggregate the data from truck parking areas
- Disseminate information on truck parking areas along their route to truck drivers
Existing truck parking occupancy systems rely on onsite detection systems such as induction loops and number plate recognition systems. The costs of installing, operating and maintaining such systems inhibit the wide-scale deployment of truck parking occupancy information services.
Parckr is designed to help drivers find the best spot, hassle-free and on time. The Parckr Android app gives an overview of all truck parking areas along the route. Per truck parking area, it indicates the expected occupancy at time of arrival, as well as useful information on facilities. It also shows what other truck drivers think of a particular truck parking area. Parckr is the first community for truck drivers to share information on truck parking areas, and the first smartphone app to predict occupancy rates for truck parking areas. From July to November 2012 Parckr will be trialled on the corridor Rotterdam – Venlo. During the trial the Parckr Android App can be downloaded for FREE.
Due to the lack of data a full evaluation study of the social effects of ParckR could not be conducted.
Some conclusions however could be drawn with regards to effects on road safety and social security.
- The Parckr app can improve public safety in parking lots because in the current situation and the large number of densely parked trucks often reduce the impact of lighting and camera surveillance.
- Road safety can be improved as better parking choice leads to less tired drivers behind the wheel and thus fewer accidents. In addition, road safety is increases because less vehicles park on emergency lanes, and in particular near slip roads of service areas.