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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.


  1. Clayton Matthews

    I think it’s funny when the fmcsa asks for comments on “proposed rule making” and then seemingly take absolutely 0 of all the comments and concerns into account and just enact whatever rules or regulations they were “asking” about anyways. The fmcsa already has a tech company in their ear saying “we have this tech”. It’s not about safety it’s only about money plain and simple.

  2. Randy Parker

    Roadside inspections should be outlawed not allowed. Seems odd that it is unsafe for truckers to park alongside the highway but it is safe for an officer to pull you over and inspect your vehicle . for revenue purposes I guess makes it safer.

  3. Robert F Jones

    Not to mention, no parking on off ramps, on ramp, you drive, for instance, you have 30mins left, you pull in a rest stop, it’s full, here comes law enforcement, they don’t give a dam that you’re running out of time, and can’t find a park, it’s a perfect time to offer a citation, dam you’re life, or the general publics life, (move on, you can’t park here) it’s easy to say, plan ahead, but what if that rest stop was your plan, doesn’t matter if you’re tired, law enforcement says move on, then wen you’re involved in an accident, it’s your fault, because all responsibility has been shifted to the driver, I’m thinking of going to work inside of Walmart, I am truly tired of the (fmcsa) wants to try to prove their relevance, I know there are some things can help with, but in my opinion, they’re doing toooooo much,

  4. Robert F Jones

    I have been trucking for 34 years, I use to enjoy it, but the (fmcsa) has taken all the joy out of trucking, everytime u turn around, these college graduates, who has never been in the cockpit of a truck, are making new rules, that doesn’t at all help any situation, as we’re enjoying our route, we just encounter a new rule, but being out there on the road, we see no difference, owner’s of trucking companies endure a lot, and has put in lots of money and hard work building they’re company, but has no say so in anything, (sad) I think trucking companies should get a plan put in place to take some of that authority from the (fmcsa), because they don’t have all the answers, as you can see, I think we should have 16hr work days, with no 34hr reset, just on -duty, off- duty, with a 10hr break, if the 10hr break is good monday-friday, why is it not good for the weekend, back in the days, before these assholes started all this crap, trucking was good, the 30min break does nothing, while taking it, you start getting tired from sitting around 25mins later, right around time to get ready to go, that’s my opinion,

  5. Michael Kazmierczak

    There isn’t a driver shortage, and the only ones saying that have no clue about this industry. I deliver meat and produce and there are always trucks piled up at the shippers and receivers. Our infrastructure can’t handle more trucks on the road not to mention parking issues.

  6. Patrick

    Just get rid of trucking industry and ship goods by air or rail instead of all the time targeting truckers.cant even think beyond their nose.instead of thinking of drivers welfare you keep pushing them on the doesnt make sense!!

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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.