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FMCSA considering electronic IDs for all trucks

Agency taking action 7 years after agreeing to rulemaking

Wireless unique IDs could overhaul roadside safety and enforcement. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

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.


  1. Colin Evans

    The industry already has to much oversight & regulation all in the name of “safety”. If the FMCSA and the rest of the feds cared about safety they would address the totally sub-standard training for new drivers, and the completely out of control epidemic of people tapping and swiping while they drive. I spend every day keeping morons from committing suicide under my truck. I have driven 3.5 million miles accident free. I’m pretty sure I’m not doing it wrong. I don’t run E logs. I’m not willing to put A speed limiter or an electronic transponder so big brother can more easily find fault with me. I’m not sure how they could put A speed limiter on my old mechanical Caterpillar. Next they’ll outlaw old trucks, like Commiefornia. I probably have another 20 yrs to work, but I won’t do it with Big Brother holding my hand. I’m simply not willing to allow DOT or any other Government agency track or control me to that degree. The erosion of freedom in the name of safety. All A crock of lies, just ask Tracy Morgan how well ELD’s & collision avoidance systems help safety. All to totalitarian! No!

  2. Colin Evans

    yet one more degree of oversight, whithout helping safety at all. professional truck drivers don’t need this much government oversight. I have driven 3.5 million accident free miles. I’m done this because I’m a good truck driver, and I know when I’m tired. I haven’t needed parents to tell me when to go to bed for a very long time. ELD’s didn’t help safety, and this won’t either. Just another waist of money. If you want to actually help safety, instead of treating us like children then please address the abysmal lack of adequate training, 5 weeks of training by people who aren’t very good at truck driving isn’t enough for the amount of traffic today. Many large companies send new drivers out with trainers who only have 1 or 2 years experience. A driver with 2 yrs experience isn’t qualified to train others. That’s the blind leading the blind. please do something about texting while driving. At any given time about 50% of drivers seem to be texting, emailing, facebooking…when a traffic jam occurs, usually because of a texting accident, that goes up to 90%. Police are at least as guilty of this as anyone. please address the issue of a large percentage of new drivers who can’t read English road signs, this is not racism it’s safety. Cars cause most the of truck accidents, & a lack of training causes the rest. will you PLEASE for once do something to help safety, instead of giving us more oversight that slows productivity while causing more issues? Lobbyists for the Teamsters & the ATA are pushing all the oversight to slow down the industry, to make us less efficient because their trucks can’t produce like an owner-operator. they are using you to drag us down, instead of upping their game. Split speed limits are dangerous because the cars do dangerous maneuvers in front of trucks that they wouldn’t be doing if we all traveled @ close to the same speed. It’s not safer because we’re slower, it’s more dangerous. Are you trying to get rid of the few experience professionals left on the road? I’m getting sick of all the new rules, considering finding another line of work @ 52 yrs old. I’m tired of the FMCSA finding more ways of looking over my shoulder. I’m quite certain I’m not doing it wrong. Leave us alone!

  3. James

    I find it amazing that the FMCSA still thinks that the issue is the commerical trucks. yes there are bad apples in every field. HOW ABOUT CRACKING DOWN ON THE GENERAL PUBLIC. and their driving habits. how about adding this tech to all cars and trucks. They love to blame the Professional drivers let’s see the general public have to deal with this electronic crap. how would they like it if they get pulled over because technology says they needs sensor replaced. I can’t tell you how many john q public construction pick-ups I have seen where the back bumper is almost dragging the ground but will they stop them. HELL NO THEY WONT. Turn that blind eye. why is it that a Police officer can work a 12 hour shift, and then go work a part time security job. get couple hours of sleep and then strap that gun back on and go right back to his shift running running up and down the highway. where in the hell are his federal regulations. the general public how many unfit normal everyday cars are on the road how many have bad brakes bad tires Un operating lighting systems sylafety systems that have been by passed. if the FMCSA was worried about highway and road safety they would be addressing issues like this. Its a money grab federal over reach they want to control. couple years ago it was speed limiters on truck WHY NOT ON ALL CARS. don’t give me that safety BS. it’s about money and they know they won’t have jobs if they tried to pull this BS with the normal public. companies want to be able to make money and if they don’t follow the rules the FMCSA find ways to put them out of business. if the DOT gave a crap about safety they would Crack down on ALL cars trucks on the roadways. but it’s easier to just enforce it on commerical trucks.

    1. Cindy

      If the FMCA was really concerned about safety, there would be adequate parking with facilities in every State and every County a Truck passes through.
      This is an absolute intrusion into my personal space.
      And nothing will make the roads safer until they crack down on the general public who increasingly do stupid things around trucks. I could make a long list, but the FMCA has heard it all, and continues to do nothing to address the real concerns. So if there are safety issues on the highways, look within the ranks of the FMCA who chooses not to address the bigger picture. This is nothing but Government out of touch and out of control.
      I will absolutely leave trucking, buy property in a foreign country, live a richer life with less money and more freedom than this supposed country that calls itself the Land of the Free.
      And my family goes back to the founders of this country. This country is one big lie. Thankfully, my roots never dried up, as my family always stayed. connected the last couple hundred of years. Their kids come for visits as do ours. And trust me, America isn’t all that any more…And this is a strong example why.

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.