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FMCSA considering electronic IDs for all trucks

A rulemaking ordered under the Obama administration will consider whether all trucks should be outfitted with a unique ID, overhauling the way trucks are inspected.

The advanced notice of proposed rulemaking is to be published in the Federal Register on Friday. It is in response to a request in February 2015 by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to reconsider a similar request by CVSA that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration denied in 2013.

In November 2015 under FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling, the agency granted CVSA’s reconsideration petition and ordered a rulemaking after CVSA provided additional cost/benefit information, but the rule was never issued.

The current proposal, on which the public will have 60 days to comment, will consider requiring every commercial motor vehicle (CMV) to be equipped with electronic ID technology “capable of wirelessly communicating a unique ID number when queried by a Federal or State motor carrier safety enforcement personnel,” according to FMCSA.

“FMCSA is therefore 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.”

Technology to ‘revolutionize’ roadside inspection?

FMCSA acknowledges in its petition that, for the purpose of roadside inspections, U.S. Department of Transportation number readers are capable of reading those numbers in real time at highway speeds, and license plate reader systems can identify and match plates with existing registration data.

Those devices, however, are not always accurate, which “may result in compliant carriers being stopped for roadside inspections and, conversely, non-compliant or high-risk carriers being excluded from roadside inspections,” according to the agency.

“Unnecessary inspections on otherwise compliant carriers leave less time for enforcement personnel to identify and conduct inspections of higher-risk carriers, and they also diminish the value of the advance e-screening for compliant carriers. Lack of inspections on non-compliant higher risk carriers may result in adverse safety events.”

CVSA states in its petition that requiring a unique electronic ID fitted to every truck “would revolutionize the way commercial motor vehicle roadside monitoring, inspection and enforcement are conducted. It would improve the effectiveness of enforcement programs while reducing costs, for both enforcement and industry, all while improving safety.” The technology also would have the potential to expand remote vehicle inspections (see CVSA video, below).

Source: CVSA, 2020

FMCSA’s petition includes a list of questions for public response, including whether trailers should also be required to have an electronic ID, if a driver’s ELD could be used to collect and transmit the electronic ID data, and if there are privacy, health or coercion concerns the agency should consider.

CVSA contends there would be no “credible” privacy concerns for carriers and drivers.

In a similar petition submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2018 asking NHTSA to require all trucks be manufactured at the outset with universal electronic ID, CVSA said a unique ID “would transmit only information that is already required to be displayed or made available by regulation. All this requirement would do is change how that information is presented to the enforcement community.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.