Level 8 is an inspection conducted electronically or wirelessly while the vehicle is in motion without direct interaction with an enforcement officer.
Trucking enforcement has changed dramatically over the decades. At first, the focus was on equipment being an issue.
After a standard inspection was developed, there was an improvement in maintenance and the focus changed to drivers.
Today, most FMCSA roadside and traffic enforcement inspections target drivers, with 3.3 million driver inspections versus 2.2 million vehicle inspections in FY 2021.
With vehicle automation coming and technologies improving, the focus will change to electronic credentials.
In 2017, CVSA voted and approved definitions of a new Level 8 electronic inspection “conducted electronically or wirelessly while the vehicle is in motion without direct interaction with an enforcement officer.”
As we approach 5 years of waiting since this announcement, is the future of inspections getting caught on camera at weigh stations coming anytime soon?
What is a Level 8 Inspection?
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.
Level I, Level V and Level VI are the only inspections that may result in issuance of a CVSA decal placed on the vehicle.
The North American Jurisdictions do not have the ability for an electronic inspection, but CVSA’s approved definitions for what such electronic inspections need is a step toward their final goal.
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.
When to expect Level 8 inspections
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.
A 2015 report from DriveWyze states that “until the advent of a Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) transponder-based bypass program, there has been no opportunity for the CSA program to leverage the volume of roadside data being collected every day for weigh station bypass programs.
CMRS transponders would provide less infrastructure needed, more data that can be exchanged between vehicle and roadside operations, and more security to protect data privacy.
The wireless roadside initiative already envisions wireless electronic inspections but is trying to create its own technology from an architecture that predates both the commercial deployment of CMRS transponders and commercially available weigh station e-Inspection software.
Currently, there are no jurisdictions with the specific necessary data exchange capabilities in place to go-live immediately and begin conducting Level VIII Electronic Inspections.
However, some jurisdictions are investigating the necessary IT and data upload and exchange needs to proceed with the proper IT infrastructure to meet the definition of the new electronic inspection. However, this is strictly voluntary and there is no deadline for implementation.
This is because there is a large cost for the states to get the proper equipment and IT infrastructure in place and then maintain it over many years.
Each carrier’s decision to bear the electronic data transmission cost to the roadside will be based solely on return on investment. The solution being discussed in the industry is some form of Alternative Compliance and credit for inspections where positive credits in CSA will make the investment worthwhile to the trucking industry.
Moving forward, updates and ongoing discussion of the Level VIII Electronic Inspection will take place during the Alliance’s committee meetings throughout the coming years in the Information Systems Committee, the Driver-Traffic Enforcement Committee, and the Enforcement and Industry Modernization Committee.
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