Jason’s Law requires states to evaluate truck parking options by creating a system of metrics, but truck traffic can be difficult to measure. Fehr & Peers and StreetLight Data teamed up for a presentation at TRB Innovations in Freight Data Workshop in April 2019. We presented our proof of concept for identifying authorized and unauthorized truck parking along the I-5 corridor in the Central Valley region of California.
We will share results from our study here, to illustrate how Big Data can help DOTs prepare for Jason’s Law-inspired initiatives to increase highway safety for all drivers.
How Jason’s Law Helped Drive Truck Parking Changes
Driving an 80,000 pound, 50-foot truck comes with its own set of complications and challenges that the typical auto driver doesn’t face. One striking difference involves where and when to park. While an automobile may park at any parking location at any time, a 50-foot truck cannot. Trucks can only legally park in designated truck parking locations, which are not widely available.
Trucks also must follow regulations regarding when to stop and for how long. While these rules always existed, they are stricter now with the new Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate passed in December 2017. The current FHWA regulations state that truck drivers may not drive more than 11 consecutive hours, after which 10 consecutive off-duty hours are required. A truck driver must also have a 30-minute break every 8 hours. This creates two types of necessary truck parking: short term and long term.
Unfortunately, road conditions and traffic are never predictable enough to plan out the most efficient route with stops ahead of time. Therefore, trucks can reach their 11th consecutive hour with no truck parking in sight, forcing them to park in unauthorized areas.
Unauthorized parking is dangerous to truck drivers and to others. Other vehicles are in danger of collision from trucks parked on shoulders, while the truck drivers are in danger of robbery and violent assault – a risk brought to light by the tragic death of driver Jason Rivenburg in 2009, which led to Jason’s Law, passed in 2012.
Improving Traditional Truck Parking Research
The obvious solution from the implementation of Jason’s Law was to start driving more truck parking facilities. But where do you strategically add them? What policies can we implement regarding existing, underutilized parking? And are there options to get buy-in from local businesses that may be able to help?
These are questions that states, MPOs, and the Federal government are starting to ask. Currently, the questions are being explored by one or a combination of the following approaches:
- Surveys/Outreach: This approach may provide detailed insight, but it is only a very small sample and time-consuming to collect. It is also not scalable for statewide study.
- FHWA Demand Equation: This option gives a very rough estimate and requires many inputs regarding the system it is to be tailored to. These inputs are largely variant depending on the corridor, and they are difficult to accumulate.
- Raw GPS: Working with raw GPS data requires high-level skill sets to interpret terabytes of data, making it a time-consuming and intensive process.
Fehr & Peers and StreetLight Data collaborated to produce a new take on analyzing navigation-GPS data. By incorporating StreetLight’s interface and dynamic data approach with the freight expertise of Fehr & Peers, we were able to present informative data in a format rarely represented in truck parking analysis. The process included running a complete analysis, post-processing the multipliers.
The heavy data-lifting was completed by StreetLight using an already-established validation, analysis, and visualization process.
We summarize the general approach to the truck parking analysis in Figure 1. The graphics also include future work to expand the analysis.
Through the process above, we identified areas with occurrences of unauthorized truck parking. These were further confirmed through a simple Google Earth search. One of these locations includes the on- and off-ramps of SR-140 and a dirt patch near them. Most of the stops are short-term stops, potentially to accommodate hours of service regulations.
Turning Jason’s Law Analysis Into Reality
Other than modeling the truck parking demand to comply with Jason’s Law, and for future analysis and planning, there are other potential efforts that could be added to the work for creating a more informative picture. These include the following:
- Adding O-D information to the work would be interesting and insightful, so that we know if these are long haul or short haul trips and may interpret their stopping behavior.
- Adding the time of day or season to the data.
- Noting capacity of truck parking facilities in order to understand utilization of the parking facilities.
- Creating very focused and strategic outreach based on data analysis to gain some insights the data is not able to provide.
Big Data supports Jason’s Law truck parking research by quickly and efficiently analyzing existing conditions and demand. The quicker the problem areas are identified, the quicker infrastructure can be constructed to resolve the shortage. Ultimately, states can create a safer and more comfortable working environment for truck drivers, and a safer environment for auto passengers.