Congress, CVSA move toward wireless roadside inspections
Congress has blocked funding for a wireless roadside inspection program for several years, but that could change in the coming year. The House Appropriations Committee on July 17 approved a fiscal 2018 Department of Transportation funding bill that no longer includes a provision withholding funding for such a program. Although the House panel did not retain a provision in the bill blocking the funding, it did air some concerns in the committee report accompanying the bill. The committee said it "remains concerned about the FMCSA wireless roadside inspection program’s impact on private sector innovation and motor carrier safety and operations." It urged DOT to continue to monitor the program and other commercially available systems and products and "to take steps to avoid any conflict with existing non-federal electronic screening systems, duplication of commercially available software applications, overreach of existing authority, and failure to address privacy concerns." Meanwhile, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which represents U.S. and Canadian state and provincial motor carrier enforcement agencies, announced July 13 that its board of directors had approved the addition of a newly created Level VIII electronic inspection to the North American Standard Inspection Program. The new inspection will be conducted electronically or wirelessly while a commercial motor vehicle is in motion without direct interaction with a roadside inspector/enforcement official. To be considered a complete Level VIII Electronic Inspection, a data exchange must include each of the required and/or applicable data points listed in the CVSA North American Standard Level VIII Electronic Inspection definition. Those data points include, where applicable and/or required:
A descriptive location, including GPS coordinates;
Electronic validation of who is operating the vehicle;
Appropriate driver’s license class and endorsement(s) for vehicle being operated;
Valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate and Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate;
Current driver’s record of duty status;
USDOT or (Canada) NSC number;
Power unit registration;
Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) compliance; and
Federal out-of-service orders.
CVSA said the goal of this new electronic inspection "is to help expand the roadside enforcement’s footprint, increasing the number of interactions an agency/department could have with the motor carrier industry and providing member jurisdictions with additional information to create unique compliance options and strategies." An electronic inspection option will help roadside enforcement and inspection personnel focus their time on carriers with critical safety violations. Adoption of the standard for electronic inspections doesn't mean carriers will see them soon. State and provincial agencies will have to develop the information technology (IT) infrastructure to capture the required information, and CVSA said that no jurisdictions currently have the specific necessary data exchange capabilities in place. However, some jurisdictions are investigating the necessary IT and data upload and exchange needs.