A proposal intended to revolutionize roadside inspection by requiring fleets and owner-operators to equip their trucks with a new electronic identification system has been flatly rejected by much of the trucking industry.
The September advance notice of the proposed rulemaking issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was in response to a request from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. CVSA claims that the introduction of a unique, universal Electronic Vehicle Identifier for all commercial motor vehicles would increase safety by improving the way road inspectors address unsafe vehicles and drivers.
“As the industry continues to grow and more people take to the streets, it is imperative that we use technology wherever possible to improve the effectiveness of our enforcement programs,” CVSA said in its supporting comments.
Support from vehicle administrations, security groups
The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators fully supports the petition. It agrees with CVSA that having wireless ID integrated into every truck would allow law enforcement agencies to conduct fewer but more efficient road safety checks, while allowing compliant trucks to bypass weigh stations and other roadside checks.
The Truck Safety Coalition, which filed a motion alongside Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Parents Against Tired Truckers, also backed the proposal, claiming that it had relied on an “honor system” for too long to enforce safety.
“Electronic IDs are helping to provide the overdue transparency and accountability in overseeing the safety and compliance of commercial vehicles in day-to-day operations,” the groups explained. “This rulemaking is a potential game changer because a carrier and/or driver can no longer knowingly break rules designed to protect public safety without anyone getting the wiser.”
Trucking says no
However, the petition was flatly rejected by an overwhelming majority of the more than 1,700 comments FMCSA received on the proposal – most of which came from owners and operators citing privacy concerns.
“Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this proposal is FMCSA’s failure to address the deficiencies and security risks associated with previous technology-based requirements, including the mandate for electronic logging devices,” said Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents many opponents of the petition.
“There is little to no acknowledgment of the concerns that auto transport companies and drivers have consistently raised about privacy and data security, and there is no indication that the FMCSA has taken meaningful steps to address these concerns.”
Even the American Trucking Associations and the Truckload Carriers Association, whose members typically support safety-enhancing technology, declined to endorse the proposal.
“There are numerous questions and concerns that must be addressed by the FMCSA before ATA offers its consent to unique commercial vehicle electronic identification,” wrote ATA’s Vice President of Safety Policy, Dan Horvath. “The FMCSA should unequivocally determine whether the concept of universal ID would provide a security benefit that outweighs the time and cost associated with the completion and ongoing implementation of this rule.”
TCA President Jim Ward said his group is reluctant to endorse the petition without addressing issues of cybersecurity, data ownership, inspection policies and costs.
PrePass: Wasted Money and Effort?
But perhaps the most adamant of the organizations and associations opposing CVSA’s proposal is the PrePass Safety Alliance.
The non-profit, public-private partnership has so far invested $900 million to provide and maintain a voluntary vehicle identification system that the organization says is already paying for more than 725,000 trucks and more than 110,000 auto transporters. PrePass wireless technology pre-clears qualified carriers, allowing them to bypass weigh station security checks.
“Existing programs to bypass electronic weigh stations have generated significant investments at no cost to states,” the organization claimed in its comments on CVSA’s proposal. “Motor transport companies have voluntarily made these investments through low-cost subscriptions to the bypass programs. The CVSA petition and the [proposed rulemaking] do not mention a way to integrate existing electronic scale bypass programs into the [universal ID] Universe. Therefore, all these private investments must be considered terminated.”
When asked by FMCSA in the petition whether the new ID system should transmit driver information such as hours of operation, CDL compliance and medical certification, PrePass said that requiring such sensitive data “would take a disastrous toll on the supply chain.”
The organization was referring to a survey conducted by Randall Reilly in June, in which 27% of respondents said they would leave the haulage industry if the government required them to provide such personal data.
“With a driver shortage already challenging transportation companies, the supply chain and American consumers, removing 27% of drivers would be catastrophic.”
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