Rest Area Occupancy

The primary mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. FMCSA and the motor carrier industry have been successful in reducing the industry's fatality rate since 1996. Truck driver fatigue has proven to be the cause of many truck crashes that result in fatalities. While there are many factors that contribute to driver fatigue, locating available overnight parking is one of the most significant. Advances in technology now make it possible to provide real-time parking availability information to truck drivers. It is possible to do this in a way that does not compromise the ability of the operator to drive safely.

The TDS rest area occupancy determination system uses automatic vehicle classifiers on entry and exit to the parking area. The vehicle classifiers use a laser scanner and a Doppler radar unit working in concert to build a profile of the vehicle. A classification of the vehicle will be assigned based on this information. Classification data is passed to a central server where it is used to determine the availability of parking spots in the truck rest area. The occupancy data is available to the agency for use with a scheduling package and for display on variable message signs along the highway.

The system is capable of operating in an unattended mode on a 24 hours per day, 7 days per week basis. It will operate in all weather and ambient lighting conditions. The system includes a built in website that can be viewed remotely. This website interface includes the ability to reset the count of available slots. It provides a means of viewing the transaction list of all entry and exit vehicles and the system error log.

The system can be augmented with a CCTV camera system for doing a visual confirmation of the number of available slots.

The system can be augmented with a license plate reader on entry and exit to allow for correlation of the entry and exit of each vehicle. This would allow the system to determine if a semi either dropped a trailer or added a trailer while in the parking lot. It could also be used to query the national database of vehicles of interest.