FMCSA is considering electronic IDs for all trucks

A regulation ordered under the Obama administration will consider whether all trucks must be equipped with a unique ID, overhauling the way trucks are inspected.

The advance notice of proposed regulations will be published in the Federal Register on Friday. It’s in response to a February 2015 request from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to reconsider a similar request from CVSA that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rejected in 2013.

In November 2015, the agency under FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling granted CVSA’s request for reconsideration and ordered a regulation after CVSA provided additional cost-benefit information, but the rule was never enacted.

The current proposal, to which the public has 60 days to comment, will consider requiring that every commercial motor vehicle (CMV) be equipped with electronic ID technology “capable of wirelessly communicating a unique ID number.” when requested to do so by federal or state car company security enforcement officers,” according to FMCSA.

“FMCSA is therefore asking for more information on various aspects of electronic identification, including the best possible technical and operational concepts, along with the associated costs, benefits, security, vulnerability, privacy and other relevant implementation and operational implications.”

Technology to ‘revolutionize’ roadside inspection?

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

However, those devices aren’t always accurate, which could lead to compliant carriers being stopped from roadside inspections and conversely, non-compliant or high-risk carriers being barred from roadside inspections, the agency said.

“Unnecessary inspections of further compliant carriers leave less time for enforcement personnel to identify and inspect higher-risk carriers, and they also reduce the value of the upfront e-screening for compliant carriers. Lack of inspections on non-compliant carriers with a higher risk can lead to adverse safety events.”

CVSA states in its petition that requiring a unique electronic ID to be affixed to each truck “would revolutionize the way roadside surveillance, inspection and enforcement of commercial motor vehicles is performed. It would improve the effectiveness of enforcement programs while lowering costs, for both enforcement and industry, while improving safety.” The technology would also have the potential to extend remote vehicle inspections (see CVSA video below).

Source: CVSA, 2020

The FMCSA petition contains a list of questions for the public to respond to, including whether trailers must also have an electronic ID, whether a driver’s ELD can be used to collect and transmit the electronic ID data, and whether there are concerns about privacy, health or coercion the agency should consider.

CVSA states that there are no “credible” privacy concerns for carriers and drivers.

In a similar petition filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2018 asking the NHTSA to require all trucks to be manufactured from scratch with a universal electronic ID, CSA said a unique ID would “send only information that already needs to be used.” displayed or made available by regulation, all this requirement would do is change the way that information is presented to the enforcement community.

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