Skip to content

Economic Analysis of Onboard Monitoring Systems in Commercial Vehicles

Download PDF  (1.01 MB)
Publication: Transportation Research Record
Volume: 2379
Pages: 64-71
Publication Date: 2013
Onboard monitoring systems (OBMSs) can be used in commercial vehicle operations to monitor driving behavior, to enhance safety. Although improved safety produces an economic benefit to carriers, understanding how this benefit compares with the cost of the system is an important factor for carrier acceptance.
In addition to the safety benefits provided by the use of OBMSs, operational improvements may have economic benefits. This research provides, through a benefit-cost analysis, a better understanding of the economic implications of OBMSs from the perspective of the carrier. In addition to the benefits of reduced crashes, the benefits associated with reduced mileage, reduced fuel costs, and the electronic recording of hours of service (HOS) are considered. A sensitivity analysis demonstrates that OBMSs are economically viable under a wide range of conditions.
The results indicate that for some types of fleets, a reduction in crashes and an improvement in HOS recording provides a net benefit of close to $300,000 over the 5-year expected life span of the system. Furthermore, when additional benefits, such as reduced fuel consumption and reduced vehicle miles, are explored, the operation-related benefits can be upward of seven times more than the safety-related benefits.
This research also shows that net positive benefits are possible in large and small fleets. The results can be used to inform policies that motivate or mandate carriers to use such systems and to inform carriers about the value of system investment.


Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Kelly A. Pitera, Linda Ng Boyle
Recommended Citation:
Pitera, Kelly, Linda Ng Boyle, and Anne V. Goodchild. "Economic Analysis of Onboard Monitoring Systems in Commercial Vehicles." Transportation Research Record 2379, no. 1 (2013): 64-71. 
Technical Report

Safe Truck Parking in PacTrans Interstate Corridors: I-5 and I-90

Download PDF  (1.46 MB)
Publication Date: 2018

Unresolved safety issues caused by truck parking shortages in high-demand locations are of keen importance to the State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) participating in the Regional PacTrans Center and to the thousands of trucking companies and drivers using the Interstate 5 (I-5) and Interstate 90 (I-90) corridors. Safety issues include serious and/or fatal crashes that may be related to the lack of safe and secure parking, and illegal/unofficial parking on entrance and exit ramps, shoulders, and freeway lanes that create hazards for motorists during severe weather.

WSDOT completed a statewide truck parking study in December 2016, and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) published a report on truck parking along the US97 corridor in July 2017. Both states are interested in addressing safety issues inherent in the current lack of truck parking capacity. Researchers at the Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center (SCTL) at the University of Washington developed this project’s research goals with WSDOT to support their work.


The project goals are to:
  • Provide data-based decision support to WSDOT and neighboring states as they develop solutions for the lack of safe truck parking along the I-5 and I-90 corridors.
  • Develop new and valuable insights from truck drivers’ expertise on safety problems resulting from the lack of truck parking capacity on these corridors.
To achieve these goals, the research team first conducted a research scan of existing studies and other online reports that describe the lack of parking in high-demand locations along the I-5 and I-90 corridors in the PacTrans region.

Future Trends 

SCTL identified three trends in the truck parking industry that will affect the truck parking shortage in the future:
  1. The rising cost of land in growing metropolitan areas will continue to intensify this problem. Rapidly increasing land costs create pressure on truck service firms to either create new revenue streams (charging for parking that was formerly included for ‘free’ along with retail fuel sales) or relocate further from metro centers if they cannot compete with higher-value land uses near highway interchanges. Also, manufacturing and wholesale facilities that generate a high number of truck trips will likely continue to maximize building footprints on parcels, reducing available land for on-site truck parking.
  2. Federal regulatory changes are likely to increase long-haul truck parking demand in the next 10 years. In the short term, the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate beginning in 2018 will change driver behavior. Although some long-haul drivers have not strictly followed federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations in the past, under the new ELD mandate they are more likely to stop and park for required rest periods because it will be more difficult to evade detection. In the next 10 years, additional federal regulations may be enacted and shorten drivers’ HOS again, thereby increasing demand for more rest stops on the Interstate Highway System and other major truck routes.
  3. In the longer term, emerging autonomous and cooperative truck technologies that address driver fatigue are likely to reduce demand for truck stops in rural areas – but not near cities. The truck driver interviews conducted for this project show that drivers stop for business reasons, not just for safety rest periods.

Finally, SCTL conducted 184 interviews of truck drivers over a three-week time period at two high-demand truck stops on the I-5 and I-90 corridors to determine: (a) origin and destination of trips; (b) connection to the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma; (c) drivers’ perceptions of safety issues caused by a lack of truck parking; (d) types of commodities carried; and (e) why drivers parked at these rest stops.

Key Findings 

The SCTL Center’s research provides new data and insights to answer questions under discussion between state, local, and regional transportation agencies and communities in the central Puget Sound region. The research results supported development of the Washington State Freight Mobility Plan. However the project’s findings have not resulted in public funding for additional parking in high-demand locations near I5 and I-90.

One of the most topical questions is whether the state’s economy and/or the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma benefit from the truck trips that require rest stops near the Seattle-Tacoma Bellevue metropolitan area. This question is central to understanding their proportional roles and funding responsibilities to add parking capacity where it is scarce: in the central Puget Sound region.

  • The on-site truck driver survey showed that there is an extremely strong tie between truck parking activity and the state’s economy: 91% percent of trucks parked along I-90 (at TA Seattle East Travel Center in North Bend) and 87% of those parked along I-5 (at the Mustard Seed in Sumner) delivered goods to businesses and other customers within Washington State. The evidence belies the hypothesis that most trucks using parking facilities in Washington are passing through the state and therefore provide no economic value to it.
  • Most drivers using the two truck parking facilities in central Puget Sound were not going to either the Port of Seattle or Port of Tacoma. In fact, 83% of truck drivers parked near I-90 and 78% near I-5 did not go to either of the two container ports. Although port-related traffic uses iv the truck parking facilities, it is not the major cause of increased parking demand at these locations.
  • Why do truck drivers park in these facilities? Surprisingly, more park there – and park longer – for business reasons rather than for safety reasons. The largest group of drivers (34% of those interviewed at TA Seattle East and 36% at Mustard Seed) said their primary reason for the stop was to wait to meet a specific delivery time at their destination or wait to locate another load. When SCTL compared the number of hours parked with the primary reason for parking, it found that delivery operations were the largest driver for longer stays.

The research findings have been used to communicate the importance of providing truck parking in high-demand areas in Washington State, particularly near I-5 south of Seattle and along I-90 near North Bend, to local officials, WSDOT, and other state officials.

By an overwhelming margin, truck drivers who parked along I-5 and I90 near the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area delivered goods in Washington State, providing strong evidence that their activities support the state’s economy and residents.

Recommended Citation:
Giron-Valderrama, Gabriela, Barbara Ivanov, and Anne Goodchild. "Safe Truck Parking in PacTrans Interstate Corridors: I-5 and I-90." (2018).
Student Thesis and Dissertations

Economic Implications of the Use of Technology in Commercial Vehicle Operations

Publication Date: 2012

The effective and efficient movement of freight is essential to the economic well-being of our country but freight transport also adversely impacts our society by contributing to a large number of crashes, including those resulting in injuries and fatalities. Technology has been used increasingly to facilitate safety and operational improvements within commercial vehicle operations, but motor carriers operate on small profit margins, limiting their ability to make large investments without also seeing an economic benefit from such technologies. This dissertation explores the economic implications associated with using onboard monitoring systems to enhance safety in commercial vehicle operations.

First, to better understand how electronic on-board systems work, paper-based methods of recording driver hours of service are compared to automated (or electronically recorded) hours of service for three motor carriers using process analysis. This analysis addressed the differences between manual (paper-based) and electronic methods of recording hours of service, specifically as they relate to the frequencies and magnitude of the errors. Potential errors are categorized by operations within an information-based process and the findings suggest that a reduction of errors can be achieved with an electronic system.

A benefit-cost analysis provides a better understanding of the economic implications of onboard monitoring systems from the perspective of the carrier. In addition to the benefits of reduced crashes, benefits associated with electronic recording of hours of service, reduced mileage, and reduced fuel costs are considered. A sensitivity analysis is used and demonstrates that on-board monitoring systems are economically viable under a wide range of conditions. Results indicate that, for some fleet types, reducing crashes and improving hours of service recording, provides a net benefit of close to $300,000 over the five-year expected lifespan of the system. Furthermore, when exploring additional benefits such as reduced fuel consumption and reduced vehicle miles, benefits can be upwards of seven times more than safety-related benefits. This research also shows that net positive benefits are possible in large and small-sized fleets. Results can be used to inform policies for motivating or mandating carriers to use such systems and to inform carriers regarding the value of system investment.

Authors: Kelly A. Pitera
Recommended Citation:
Pitera, Kelly Ann. "Economic Implications of the Use of Technology in Commercial Vehicle Operations." PhD diss., 2012.
Thesis: Array

Effect of Tsunami Damage on Passenger and Forestry Transportation in Pacific County Washington

Download PDF  (1.36 MB)
Publication: Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board
Volume: 2604 (1)
Pages: 88-94
Publication Date: 2017

The outer coast of Washington State is exposed to significant seismic and tsunami hazards. A Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) event is expected to cause high earthquake intensities and tsunami inundation resulting in considerable infrastructure loss, inundation of developed land, and degraded functioning of coastal communities.

One area of particular concern is Pacific County, located in southwest Washington, where over 85% of the population is expected to experience severe shaking intensities.

This paper establishes the pre-disaster passenger and freight transportation patterns and the damaged post-disaster road network in Pacific County. The hazard used in the analysis is the CSZ magnitude 9.1 earthquake and resulting tsunami. Passenger travel is compared to forestry travel along the following characteristics: overall change in travel distance, percentage of trips that are longer, the percentage of trips that are no longer possible, and the distributions of travel distance.

Because passenger and freight travel have different purposes and patterns, understanding how they are affected differently can serve as a foundation for community-based disaster recovery planning to increase community resilience to earthquakes and tsunamis.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Maura Rowell
Recommended Citation:
Rowell, Maura, and Anne Goodchild. "Effect of Tsunami Damage on Passenger and Forestry Transportation in Pacific County, Washington." Transportation Research Record 2604, no. 1 (2017): 88-94.

Assessing the Safety Effects of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems: A Bowtie Analysis Approach

Publication: Accident Analysis and Prevention
Volume: 99 (A)
Pages: 125-141
Publication Date: 2017

The safety effects of cooperative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS) are mostly unknown and associated with uncertainties, because these systems represent emerging technology. This study proposes a bowtie analysis as a conceptual framework for evaluating the safety effect of cooperative intelligent transport systems. These seek to prevent road traffic accidents or mitigate their consequences. Under the assumption of the potential occurrence of a particular single-vehicle accident, three case studies demonstrate the application of the bowtie analysis approach in road traffic safety. The approach utilizes exemplary expert estimates and knowledge from literature on the probability of the occurrence of accident risk factors and of the success of safety measures. Fuzzy set theory is applied to handle uncertainty in expert knowledge. Based on this approach, a useful tool is developed to estimate the effects of safety-related cooperative intelligent transport systems in terms of the expected change in accident occurrence and consequence probability.

Authors: Dr. Ed McCormack, Ute Christine Ehlers, Eirin Olaussen Ryeng, Faisal Khan, Sören Ehlers
Recommended Citation:
Ehlers, Ute Christine, Eirin Olaussen Ryeng, Edward McCormack, Faisal Khan, and Sören Ehlers. "Assessing the safety effects of cooperative intelligent transport systems: A bowtie analysis approach." Accident Analysis & Prevention 99 (2017): 125-141.