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Trucking industry slams FMCSA’s proposed electronic ID mandate

Carriers withholding support, PrePass warns of wasted investment

CVSA proposal aimed at improving roadside safety enforcement. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

A proposal meant to revolutionize roadside inspection by requiring fleets and owner-operators to equip their trucks with a new electronic identification system was roundly rejected by much of the trucking industry.

The advance notice of proposed rulemaking issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in September responded to a request by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. CVSA contends that establishing a unique, universal electronic vehicle identifier for all commercial motor vehicles would boost safety by improving how roadside inspectors target unsafe vehicles and drivers.

“As industry continues to grow and more and more people take to the roads, it is imperative that we leverage technology where possible to improve the efficacy of our enforcement programs,” CVSA stated in its support comments.

Support from motor vehicle administrations, safety groups

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators fully supports the petition. It agrees with CVSA that a wireless ID embedded in every truck would give law enforcement the ability to conduct fewer but more efficient traffic safety stops while allowing compliant trucks to bypass weigh stations and other roadside checks.

The Truck Safety Coalition, which filed jointly with Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Parents Against Tired Truckers, also backed the proposal, contending that it has for too long relied on an “honor system” when it comes to enforcing safety.

“Electronic IDs help provide overdue transparency and accountability in monitoring the safety and compliance of commercial motor vehicles in day-to-day operations,” the groups stated. “This rulemaking is a potential game-changer as no longer could a carrier and/or driver knowingly break rules intended to preserve public safety with no one the wiser.”


Trucking says no

But the petition was roundly rejected by an overwhelming majority of the more than 1,700 comments FMCSA received on the proposal — most of which were from owner-operators citing privacy concerns.

“Perhaps the most concerning aspect of this proposal is FMCSA’s failure to address the shortcomings and security risks associated with previous technology-based requirements, including the electronic logging device mandate,” said Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents many of those opposing the petition.

“There is little to no recognition of the concerns motor carriers and drivers have continuously expressed about privacy and data security, and there are no indications FMCSA has taken any meaningful steps to alleviate these concerns.”

Even the American Trucking Associations and the Truckload Carriers Association, whose members typically support technology aimed at improving safety, declined to back the proposal.

“There are numerous questions and concerns that must be addressed by FMCSA before ATA would offer its endorsement of unique electronic identification of commercial motor vehicles,” wrote ATA’s vice president for safety policy, Dan Horvath. “FMCSA should clearly determine if the concept of universal ID would provide for a safety benefit that outweighs the time and cost associated with finalizing and ongoing implementation of this rule.”

TCA President Jim Ward said his group is “reluctant” to support the petition without addressing issues around cybersecurity, data ownership, inspection policies and cost.

PrePass: Money and effort wasted?

But possibly the most adamant among organizations and associations opposing CVSA’s proposal is the PrePass Safety Alliance.

The nonprofit, public-private partnership has so far invested $900 million to deploy and maintain a voluntary vehicle identification system that over 725,000 trucks and more than 110,000 motor carriers are already paying for, according to the organization. PrePass wireless technology pre-clears qualified motor carriers, allowing them to bypass weigh station safety checks.

“Existing electronic weigh station bypass programs have made substantial investments at no cost to the states,” the organization asserted in its comments to CVSA’s proposal. “Motor carriers have voluntarily underwritten those investments via low-cost subscriptions to the bypass programs. The CVSA petition and the [proposed rulemaking] do not mention any possibility of integrating existing electronic weigh station bypass programs into the [universal ID] universe. Therefore, all these private investments must be considered terminated.”

Asked by FMCSA in the petition if the new ID system should broadcast driver information such as hours of service, CDL compliance and medical certification, PrePass said that requiring such sensitive data “would take a disastrous toll on the supply chain.”

The organization referenced a June survey conducted by Randall Reilly in which 27% of respondents said they would leave the trucking industry if the government required them to transmit such personally identifiable information.

“With a shortage of drivers already creating challenges to motor carriers, the supply chain, and American consumers, removing 27% of drivers would be catastrophic.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

34 Comments

  1. Robert Wheatley

    Why don’t you start cracking down on cars pickups instead of trying to put more regulations on truck drivers. We have enough to deal with now instead of putting more regulations on us crack down on the car drivers who are getting away with texting while driving holding their phones to their head to talk and cutting us off site to then doing something stupid. Let the other drivers or here besides the truck drivers feel how it is too be stalked and punished.

  2. Gregory Brown

    Said it once,I’ll mentioned once again.THE GOVERNMENT IS OVER REGULATED.and you have heard it once before,the government steps in they make a mess.

  3. Steve

    Way too much government control on the trucking industry. Every day they are trying to figure out how to take more out of your revenue. I agree they are still alot of truck companies that are breaking laws. All they got to do is look at the lettering,pictures and California plates on the trucks that will tell them which ones to check. They probably should start watching more at the 4 wheelers texting or talking on their cell phones that would improve safety drastically. I’ve drove trucks for close to 40 yrs. I’ve never seen the 4 wheelers cause so much problems for trucks like is happening now and nothing is done except blame and charge the trucks more. The trucking industry should park their trucks for just 2 weeks. Then see what would happen. We’d be important like back in the 80’s. But the government has let too many foreigners come in. So the government wins again. I will be quitting if things keep on.

  4. Randall Smith

    First let’s worry about how to protect our children in public schools from being slaughtered. How does this happen in a place where children should be most safe. No doubt trucking industry isn’t perfect, but the continued massacres at Walmarts, churches, and school I feel should be hands down agenda 1 at this time.

    Thank you

  5. MICHAEL MALONE

    I started with Werner Enterprise in 98 using their E.L.D for 2years got stop by dot couple time had show log book I had give the a paper saying didn’t have to use paper log.with that said I move on to a different company where I could learn how do the paper logs.the 25 years of driving I dont see any difference between paper or electronic.i really believe it’s all about control movement. And the wrecks I seen by semi trucks usually cause by smaller vehicles cutting in front of our trucks slamming on brakes in front of us only if could watch hundreds of dash cameras you see what I’m talking about. I’m for going back on paper logs.

  6. Robert Thomas Cooper

    When you spend the money on PrePass, have a clean safety record with no tickets or accidents and you still get the red light to come in at a weigh station, you have to wonder why. Especially when you get the bypass lane at the weigh station. Now the government wants us to get an electronic ID so they can conduct “fewer but more efficient safety stops”? Yet another unfunded mandate from the government that won’t really do much to promote safety in this industry. If you want more safety, then you need to make it harder for a company to get started in this industry. Too many people from outside the country have come here with no knowledge of the culture or safety/responsibility that comes with owning a trucking company. They perform minimal maintenance, have virtually no training and work for cutthroat rates. We don’t have a driver shortage in this country. We have a shortage of quality drivers/owners. There’s a difference.

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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.