How Dynamic Message Signs Are Providing Real-Time Parking Availability for Truck Drivers

Back to Our blog

Share This Post:


The average over-the-road commercial truck driver spends 56 minutes a day searching for available parking, costing them approximately $4,600 per year in lost wages, according to the American Transportation Research Institute.

The lack of available truck parking is recognized as a national problem that results in drivers staying on the road past their federally regulated hours.

Saving Time with Dynamic Message Signs

In an effort to reduce the time truck drivers spend hunting for parking, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) partnered with TAPCO to install Adaptive Micro Systems dynamic message signs along the interstate that provide real-time parking information for drivers.

"Federal regulations state that drivers can only drive 11 hours within a 14-hour period and are required to take a 10-hour break before driving again," said Steve Fry, Commercial Truck Instructor for Schneider International. "Being able to find a safe place to rest before driving hours expire is critical, and that's why this ground-breaking system is so exciting."

How the System Works

The system – the Truck Parking Information Management System (TPIMS) – uses sensors and cameras to collect real-time information, such as the number of available spots and the length of vehicle stays, that is then displayed roadside on the dynamic message signs. Available parking is also broadcast on 511 Wisconsin, a website providing 24/7 statewide traffic information, as well as third-party mobile apps.

"The new signage of available stalls will help drivers find a location that is available instead of parking on an exit ramp or on the side of the road," said Fry.

Outcomes of TPIMS

The goal of TPIMS is to:

  • Increase the efficiency of freight movements
  • Maximize usage of truck parking resources
  • Reduce fuel consumption by reducing the amount of time a driver spends looking for parking
  • Reduce damage to highway shoulders and ramps from trailer parking
  • Remove trucks from ramps and other unsecure areas

Eleven TPIMS systems have been installed and deployed. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation received two grants that provided funding for the project — a $1 million dollar grant from the Federal Highway Administration and a $3 million TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

With important and updated information brightly displayed on these dynamic message systems, trucker drivers in the state of Wisconsin have an easier time finding places to rest and recharge before getting back on the road.


Brian Scharles, Sr.

TAPCO | Director of ITS Engineering & Service

An industry veteran, Brian holds three transportation technology patents and has managed ITS and signal system designs, installation and maintenance for 25 years. He has experience integrating communication systems for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation fiber optic system starting in 1990 that are still in operation today.

Brian is a member of multiple industry organizations, including the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) WI and International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA), and has won many awards.

Don't forget to share this post!

Safe travels.® Blog

Where community members and industry leaders learn about traffic safety.

Read Safe travels.® Blog