Traveler information is critical for the safety and efficiency of commercial vehicle operations (CVO). The objectives of this project are to (a) review traveler information technologies and practices in Virginia, (b) understand CVO community information needs, (c) document data availability to support a CVO information system, and (d) recommend a framework for a comprehensive Virginia CVO information system and develop recommendations for improvements to CVO traveler information systems in Virginia. The research team followed a multi-pronged approach to capture CVO stakeholders’ opinions, which included a survey of truck drivers, interviews with carriers and other public and private-sector stakeholders, and a thorough review of other states’ truck traveler information initiatives. Carriers and truck drivers relied on several communications tools to select the “best” routing. Business models and available resources vary considerably among truck drivers and different carriers. In general, the traveler information provided by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) received positive ratings. Truck drivers and carriers put special emphasis on the need for accurate and real-time data to make informed decisions. Based on the information collected, the researchers identified the main issues faced by the CVO community in several key areas and the main gaps in the existing practice; the researchers proposed possible actions to fill these gaps. These potential actions were ranked based on potential cost and implementation difficulty level, and were organized based on the channel most likely to be used for implementation. The study found that, while VDOT has traditionally served as collector, aggregator, provider, and presenter of data, the private sector is now participating in almost all of these roles. There is agreement among stakeholders that VDOT’s major role in the CVO traveler information network must be as a data provider and facilitator to maximize the use of the data and development of new tools.An ideal system will not only provide coverage for the whole state (towns and cities included), but will also have connectivity with other states. Especially important is the development of applications that provide real-time information for truck drivers regarding presence of work zones, incidents, and traffic congestion.
Main recommendations include: (1) enhancing functionality of the trucking resource page to make information (e.g., route and bridge restriction information, work zones, and incidents) more easily accessible and publicizing this resource to the wider CVO community; (2) maximizing data sharing and outreach of available information and creating a forum to discuss with private stakeholders the best way to share available data; (3) enhancing the available truck restrictions maps by integrating length restrictions, posted bridges, and height restriction data, as well as adding at least pre-trip/stop routing capabilities; (4) expanding the current 511 systems to include truck-specific data; and (5) reviewing existing signed route restrictions for adequacy and conspicuity and providing statewide guidelines. The implementation of these recommendations will enhance the availability of information and promote collaborations between public and private stakeholders to implement new tools and applications. Collectively, this will help enhance CVO, minimize violations, and contribute to safer and more efficient truck operations in Virginia.