The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted a petition from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) to consider requiring all interstate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), trucks, and buses, to have devices installed that electronically transmit the identity of the vehicle. These “unique identification devices” (UIDs), also known as “universal identification devices,” would allow roadside enforcement to identify and perhaps even monitor the condition of CMVs on the highway.
Now FMCSA has taken the next step, issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on UIDs. An ANPRM is a published notice in the Federal Register used by an agency to test out a proposal or solicit ideas before it drafts its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the actual rulemaking proposal. Through this ANPRM, FMCSA is seeking public comments on whether it should require UIDs, what information trucks should send to roadside enforcement, and what may be the costs and benefits of such a system.
Many motor carriers participate in electronic weigh station bypass programs, such as PrePass. Using apps or transponders, those motor carriers already transmit the identity of their trucks to roadside enforcement. But the participating carriers do so voluntarily, at their own cost. They do so because they save time and money from the ability to bypass inspections. Electronic bypass programs also save on fuel consumption, substantially reducing emissions.
Most critically, electronic weigh station bypass programs were a bargain law enforcement and trucking made over thirty years ago. Such programs give a benefit to demonstrably safe motor carriers while allowing law enforcement to focus on CMV operators who may need more attention.
The ANPRM on UIDs recognizes that electronic weigh station bypass programs exist but explores, instead, a universe where all trucks and buses electronically communicate with law enforcement. That would require an entirely new system to sort safe carriers from those with safety or compliance issues. The ANPRM asks several questions about the costs of creating and administering that new system but does not ask what should happen to the physical and financial investments made by existing bypass programs or the equipment and software utilized by carriers participating in those programs.
The UID would potentially transmit more than just the identity of the CMV — such items as the carrier name, contact information, vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate number, USDOT number, and gross vehicle weight rating. For example, the ANPRM requests comments on whether FMCSA should mandate information specific to the driver (hours of service, electronic logging device reports, Commercial Driver’s License compliance, medical certification).
All those items, of course, are looked at during a standard truck inspection – the ANPRM contemplates relaying that information electronically instead. The ANPRM does ask, however, whether the information should be “limited to non-PII information.” PII stands for Personally Identifiable Information and pertains to the driver. But what about the data a carrier may regard as “proprietary”? And PII or proprietary, what cybersecurity protections should be included? The ANPRM seeks public input.
The bottom line for law enforcement – who make up the bulk of CVSA members – is the ability to “touch” more CMVs than today’s weigh station and roadside inspections achieve, theoretically improving highway safety. Would a UID system accomplish that? Comments on this FMCSA proposal are due by Nov. 22, 2022.
The PrePass blog and podcasts are published as a public service of PrePass®, the most reliable and technologically advanced weigh station bypass and electronic trucking toll payment platform in North America. PrePass also includes INFORM™ Safety and Tolling software for improving truck safety scores and lowering toll costs.