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|Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 64· No. 1 > Internet Watch|
Truckers Drive the Real and Information Superhighways
The World Wide Web has inched its way from our libraries and offices into our homes and cafes, and now even into the cabs of big rigs. Long-haul truck drivers now have the option to explore the routes of the virtual world. Drivers can be connected to the Internet while taking a break at rest stops.
Whether the drivers have their own laptops or use an Internet kiosk, access to the Web and e-mail are becoming easier than ever for domestic long-haul truck drivers.
Computers and the Internet are two tools used by drivers to plan their routes, send e-mail to their families and friends, order parts and services, and communicate with their companies. Therefore, more and more truck stops and travel centers around the country now provide a variety of ways to access the Internet.
Many truck drivers do not need to leave their trucks to surf the Web. Drivers can access the Internet by plugging into data port connections that are available in parking lots of more than 270 truck stops around the country.
Other drivers can bring their laptops inside the truck stops and plug their modems into existing data ports. Many truck stops even provide electric outlets near the data ports to avoid losing battery power. For those drivers who do not have their own laptops, truck stops now have kiosks with different levels of Internet access.
For example, DRIVER Net has nearly 400 touch-screen kiosks in truck stops across the country that provide email services and access to advertiser Internet content. Users can send and receive e-mail from every kiosk nationwide or even access their account from their home computers, via the Internet, on the DRIVER Net web site. Account holders can send and receive messages from others with an email address, even if it's not a DRIVER Net account. The kiosks feature a telephone handset, smart card/credit card reader, stereo speakers, Intel-based Pentium, CD-ROM, and MPEG card (to run full-screen video). In addition, each DRIVER Net terminal is equipped with a printer so that users can print out their e-mail messages or other information.
For those drivers who want full Internet access and more e-mail options, they can use one of the more than 250 Connect!Point kiosks located around the country. These kiosks have both "freeway" and "tollway" applications. Free applications include sites for driver recruitment, parts and supplies companies, and other advertiser-driven pages. The tollway is a pay-per-use option that costs 25 cents per minute - paid by either cash or credit card - for full Internet access.
Connect!Point kiosks are different from the ones found in shopping malls or airports. Because truck drivers use the terminals for longer periods of time, the Connect!Point kiosks are specifically designed with truck drivers in mind and offer privacy, comfortable bench seating, a spill-proof keyboard, and easily accessible printers. Some of the larger sites even have personnel on hand to help truckers use the kiosks or to perform maintenance.
Taking advantage of available technology and offering the convenience of Web access at rest stops, motor carriers can save time and money and improve communication, which makes for a more efficient transportation system.
Diane Enriquez is the Webmaster fro the Federal Highway Administration's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va. She is employed by Avalon Integrated Services Corp. of Arlington, Va.
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