FMCSA is considering a rulemaking to require all CMVs operating in interstate commerce to have an electronic ID system.
FMCSA currently does not require CMVs to be equipped with a system capable of transmitting a unique electronic ID (referred to as electronic ID in remainder of the document) for operation.
However, some vehicles are equipped with internet connectivity through wireless networks. Trucking companies offer wireless connections through cellular coverage areas by connecting existing wireless devices to a commercial mobile radio service. Using these services, operators of vehicles can send and receive electronic messages, order parts, and find loads.
Additionally, FMCSA provides grant funding to States for technology projects that electronically identify a CMV, verify its size, weight, and credentials information, and review its carrier’s past safety performance while the vehicle is in motion and then communicate safely to the driver to either pull in or bypass the roadside inspection station.
Per Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) policy, vehicles are allowed to bypass inspection facilities (although such vehicles are still subject to random inspection) if they are:
- properly credentialed
- operated by a motor carrier with a history of safe operations, and
- within weight limits (if the site is instrumented for weight measurements)
Electronic screening (e-screening) projects are designed to identify high-risk motor carriers/CMVs for roadside inspection, and to reduce operating costs for safe and legal motor carriers.
History of electronic IDs in CMVs
Twelve year ago, CVSA submitted a petition for rulemaking requesting that FMCSA amend § 390.21 to require that every commercial motor vehicle, as defined in § 390.5, used in interstate commerce be equipped with an electronic device capable of communicating a unique ID number when queried by a law enforcement roadside system.
CVSA contended that implementation of a mandate requiring an electronic ID would “facilitate efficiency and efficacy in the roadside inspection program by more fully enabling roadside enforcement agencies to target their efforts at high-risk operators, while at the same time, providing an incentive for safe and legal operations.”
FMCSA denied the petition for rulemaking on May 24, 2013 noting that, before undertaking rulemaking, it would be prudent to:
- Fully explore the costs and safety benefits associated with a rule to require the use of electronic ID systems on all CMVs;
- Explore the currently available technological options; and
- Work cooperatively with the Federal Highway Administration, CVSA, and other interested parties to develop a technically sound, cost-effective, long-term approach to identifying CMVs at roadside.
And now the winds are changing.
Are Level 8 inspections coming soon?
There are eight levels of inspections ranging from the Level I Inspection, which evaluates both the driver and vehicle, to inspection levels with a more specific area of focus, such as Level VI for radioactive materials and Level VIII for electronic inspections, which is currently not being used.
FMCSA is undertaking an operational test of Level VIII Electronic Inspections to enhance its current process for monitoring and enforcing motor carrier and driver safety compliance. This test will provide insight into several of the issues being considered in this rulemaking.
A Level 8 inspection is simply a “credential check” where, for example, carriers could be caught for not having their Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) current, though will most likely not affect safety scores as it will not be checking for flat tires or other safety issues covered in deeper inspections.
Electronic screening provides value to a responsible carrier because of the time and money saved not having to stop at weigh stations. Electronic screening provides benefits to participating agencies too, as they can focus resources on high-risk carriers.
This inspection, as defined by the CVSA, would include:
- A “descriptive location, including GPS coordinates.”
- Electronic validation of the current operator, including “driver’s license class” and any endorsements, a “valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate” and, where applicable, a Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate for those with medical waivers for missing limbs
- Current hours of service status and compliance information
- USDOT or (Canada) NSC number of the authorized carrier, power unit registration information, operating authority info, and Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) compliance information
- Any federal out-of-service orders
But we are far from this inspection hitting our roadways.
According to CVSA, the next step in the electronic inspection implementation process for member jurisdictions will be the development of the information technology (IT) infrastructure to capture the information required for a Level VIII Electronic Inspection.
The challenge is that each vehicle will have to have the technology to send the information, and then the state will have to have a way to receive it in a secure way.
Well, now it is being discussed.
FMCSA seeking answers to the questions
FMCSA is soliciting further information regarding various aspects of electronic identification including the best possible technical and operational concepts along with associated costs, benefits, security, vulnerability, privacy and other relevant deployment and operational implications.
- Should a device capable of transmitting an electronic ID be permanently affixed or removable/transferrable to CMVs currently in operation? Would FMCSA’s rule need to specify?
- What data should be included as part of the electronic ID (e.g., carrier name, carrier contact information, vehicle ID number, license plate number, USDOT number, and gross vehicle weight rating)?
- Should the information be limited to non-PII information? If not, why not?
- Should it include information specific to the driver (e.g., hours of service, Commercial Driver’s License compliance, and medical certification)?
- Should it also include information that may vary from trip to trip (e.g., axle weight, pre-trip inspection date and time, and GPS coordinates and time when requested)?
- Depending on how you answer the above questions, should the electronic ID be transferrable in the event of a CMV sale?
- Depending on how you answer the above questions, who should be responsible for providing the data set (see question 1.b.) associated with the electronic ID for a CMV (i.e., driver, carrier, third party)?
- Depending on the scope of the data you believe is necessary in 1.b., how should the data be transmitted and received?
- Can existing technology (e.g., ELDs) be used to collect and transmit the electronic ID data and receive a response from enforcement officials?
- How far in advance (time, distance) does a state need to gather the electronic ID information to positively ID a vehicle and message the vehicle whether further inspection is required?
- Should FMCSA propose a standard for the method of data transmission,and, if so, what should it be, or do you believe a voluntary standard can be developed?
- Are there reports or studies not already referenced above available regarding the use of electronic devices to identify CMVs that FMCSA may find useful in finding a technically sound, cost-effective, long-term means to identify CMVs at roadside? If so, please provide the references in your responses.
- Should the electronic ID be limited only to CMV power units (e.g., motorcoaches, truck-tractors) or also include trailers?
- How would an electronic ID apply to rented or leased vehicles that are operated by different carriers or parties throughout the course of the year?
- How would or should an electronic ID be tied to States’ CMV record keeping (e.g., International Registration Plan registration, Performance and Registration Information Systems Management (PRISM))?
- Are there privacy, health, or coercion concerns FMCSA should consider in a future proposal?
- Should the electronic ID framework be flexible so that functionality could be added later, as new safety and other vehicle technologies emerge?
- What operational and/or technical processes should be in place for handling situations where messages or data concerning the electronic ID do not send or receive correctly?
- How quickly can malfunctions in any electronic ID system be located and corrected?
- What cybersecurity issues (e.g., “spoofing,” and interference) should FMCSA consider in a future electronic ID proposal? Compare and contrast such concerns with the current electronic ID systems.
- How could tampering be prevented if some or all data entry or transfer is performed manually?
- What is the population of trucks that already have a type of electronic ID technology (e.g., PrePass, Drivewyze)?
- What is the percentage of carriers that are not identified through current electronic screening capabilities? Please provide any supporting studies or reports.
- What are the current and potential future safety benefits of electronic IDs?
- Are there studies or reports that provide data to support the benefits of electronic IDs?
- Would implementing an electronic ID requirement lower crash rates, if so, how?
- How would requiring an electronic ID impact the overall effectiveness of State CMV inspection programs?
- How much time would compliant motor carriers save if an electronic ID were to be required?
- What is the cost of adding electronic ID technology by type (e.g., transponder, wireless, software, etc.)?
- What is the cost of electronic ID equipment for States, carriers, and drivers?
- What is the cost of maintaining/operating electronic ID equipment (e.g., internet connection, inspection, repair, third party contracting fees, etc.)?
- What is the additional administrative burden (time and costs not already associated with vehicle or carrier registration) for registering the electronic ID and updating the registration as necessary to ensure that it is associated with the current motor carrier responsible for safety?
- Is there any other information associated with electronic IDs that FMCSA should consider? Please describe.
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