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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. Cory Riley

    How about a new approach and start focusing on the other drivers on the road. How about more mandatory testing and training for the four wheelers on the road that are getting more aggressive ever year. You don’t address them. But yet expect truckers to do everything possible to prevent accidents perpetrated by these civilian drivers. And how about enforcement of following distance and proper passing procedures of these same drivers. Come drive with me for 1 week and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about! I’ve been in the industry for over 25 years. And none of the “safety regulations that have been put in place have been successful. Example:Since ELDS fatal accidents involving semi tractor trailers have increased by 14% since 2018. How are elds safe when they force drivers to hurry up and rush so they don’t run out of time hurry up and rush to find a parking spot hurry up and speed through parking lots an on-ramps and off ramps. The bureaucrats need to stay out of the trucking industry they have done nothing but made it worse and are doing so every year!

  2. Walter Settler jr

    And said all of these people who are making rules probably have never even said on the passenger side of a truck. Yet. And still we’re just trying to make a living for our family which we don’t even get to stay at home and spend time with them. But the people who make the rules go home every night and spend time with their family. Yeah, I think that in order to be a rulemaker you should have at least two years of over the road experience. That way you could really see who are the dangerous people. The dangerous people are the people driving around in regular cars and trucks. Or should I say four wheelers that chop you off every time you go to make a turn or you throw your signal on your senior light is flashing for a mile because so many stupid idiots is flying up beside you and won’t let you scoot over and see the light flashing. I think you’re targeting the wrong people. And there’s not much money out here in the trucking industry anymore. You’re milking us drive for what little bit we are making. I think the people that sitting behind the desk are all just a bunch of dumbass people. Go drive a truck and then make a rule.

  3. Reynold Stewart

    excellent points altogether, you just receiveda new reader. What would you suggest about your put upthat you simply made a few days ago? Any positive?

  4. Robert Reed

    I’m 62 years old I’ve had a show fierce license and CDL since I was 18 I don’t understand all these new regulations they’re wanting to put an ID in each truck they have had that on the side of each truck for years it’s called a DOT number and a VIN number are they just getting too lazy to punch in the numbers or what it’s time for some of these non truck driving lawmakers to get in a truck for a couple of months and see what truck drivers go through getting completely ridiculous I’m ready to just hang it up.

  5. Nick Ward

    Here here , you are correct when you say they the non-trucking people have no clue what goes on in the trucking industry. I have been working in the industry for the past 35 years. I have seen a lot of changes . Some are good ,Some not so good like eld. But, trying to put unique device’s on trucks for identification or speed limiters to make some idea of safety a reality, is both foolhardy and frankly ridiculous. The fact is, some changes are and were nessary for safety, however, the people making the suggestions need to be experienced truck drivers and owner operators. Are they not the ones out there on a daily basis dealing with these issues? They are the ones who need to be in control of these issues and not ones who have never even been in an 18 wheeler, much less driven one.

  6. Charlie

    This is our government for you. Always trying to find another way to make money off of industry. To bad the truckers can’t get together and threaten to strike like the rail industry does

  7. Dale Davis

    We have had ICC, psc, then the federal government said they would deregulate the freight. All thru the years they have continued to be mandating something new all the time. You still can not get a answer or report from the federal or state or trucking associations where does $ 550.00 on every truck go and what is it spent for? Hwy,bridges, they send money to states then they make rules for truckers to stay out of left lane. Everyone against us they give dot right to pull you over anywhere on hwy not worried about safety. They back up scales,trucks in hwy not worried about safety. Our industry is the ❤️ heartbeat of America and the people continue to show their ignorance about how they get wood ,roofing medince,generalproducts, produce which has short shelve life and their toilet paper. But they pull out in front of you,they go around on blindside,they text and of course no trucker has families , we have no one to get back to. We just like to drive and hurt people. Medical people stay up for hrs., law enforcement also, fireman. But remember they are all heroes but truckers have to supply everything they get so we are use to this attitude of America. I really believe their should be mandatory for rule makers to have 2 yrs driving experience before being able to make rules on trucks . Also all Dot or any agency the same requirement before be released to inspect a truck. Walk a thousand miles in my brother truckers shoes and I believe you will wake up with a whole different attitude. You will then understand why we serve America and we are the ❤️ heartbeat that keeps this country moving.

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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.