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9 Truck VMT (in Billions) 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 1980 1985 1990 1995 1999 2005 2010 2015 2020 Year Forecast Figure 1. Truck vehicle miles traveled 19802020. vehicles operating in the United States has increased. Concerns are a motor carrier's second largest cost component--behind about the safety of Mexican commercial vehicles (e.g., they only labor [Bodipo-Memba, Alejandro, "Diesel Jumps Higher suffered from an out-of-service rate 36 to 44% higher than than Gas: Trucking Expenses to Trickle Down to Consumers," the United State's national average [United States General Detroit Free Press, October 27, 2004]. As such, when these Accounting Office, North American Free Trade Agreement: costs rise dramatically, some motor carriers feel pressure to Coordinated Operational Plan Needed to Ensure Mexican cut back on other costs--including maintenance and safety Trucks Compliance with U.S. Standards, December 2001, page programs ["Higher Fuel Costs Put Pressure on Truck Safety," 6] resulted in the limiting of these vehicles' operations to com- National Union of Public and General Employees Newsletter, mercial zones near the border. Mexican carriers can now oper- September 12, 2005]. Being that diesel prices have increased ate outside of the commercial zones by using FMCSA form by a one-third in the past year (national average of $3.144 for OP-1 MX to apply for the appropriate operating authority. the week of October 3, 2005 compared to a national average of $2.053 for the week of October 4, 2004) this type of pres- sure is possible. Changing Logistics Patterns The motor carrier industry continues to refine its logistics INSPECTION CHALLENGES in response to changes in the U.S. economy. As the economy evolves from one based on manufacturing to one based on ser- Inspection agencies are confronted with numerous chal- vice industries, demand for smaller (less-than-truckload) and lenges, in addition to those posed by a growing and changing higher value shipments has increased. Even within the manu- industry. These challenges are technical, institutional, and facturing industries shippers' demands have changed. Manu- budgetary in nature. Each challenge is described below. facturers now require more flexible and predictable shipments of raw materials and parts, in order to support their just-in- time supply chains. Motor carriers and air freight companies Technical are best suited to meet these new demands. In either case, the A variety of technical challenges confront enforcement per- demand for commercial vehicles is increasing. sonnel as they attempt to conduct commercial vehicle inspec- tions. These challenges include the following: Rising Fuel Costs · Accurately identifying commercial vehicle; The rising cost of diesel fuel has the potential to be a key · Accurately selecting vehicles for inspection; and factor affecting commercial vehicle safety. Diesel fuel costs · Uploading inspection data, in a timely fashion.
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10 These challenges are described below. cial vehicles. This technology is used in both electronic toll collection and electronic screening systems. The issue noted by Vehicle Identification--A series of unique identifiers Baron regarding interference from other systems/tags operat- have been adopted to support the identification of a motor ing at the same frequency remains a concern and is one reason carrier (e.g., U.S. DOT numbers), a commercial vehicle that stakeholders continue to work toward interoperability and (e.g., vehicle identification numbers, license plates), and the goal of "one truck--one transponder." The adoption of commercial drivers (e.g., commercial drivers license num- 5.9 GHz as the communication standard for dedicated short- bers). These identifiers, however, are designed to be read and range communications may help this issue. interpreted by a human. As such, jurisdictions have encoun- tered technical challenges with accurately identifying com- Vehicle Selection--As noted earlier, approximately 58% mercial vehicles at highway speeds as they attempt to employ of the respondents to this project's survey noted the use of a alternative inspections strategies. screening algorithm to select commercial carriers and vehi- In 2001, William Baron  reported the results of a series of cles for inspections. Fifty-four percent of respondents, how- tests performed on various identification systems using com- ever, reported that the algorithms currently do not meet the mercially available technologies. Two of these technologies-- needs of law enforcement; a fact that may be driven by the license plate readers, and optical character recognition (OCR) fact the no algorithm currently is designed to target high-risk devices--attempted to detect the carrier and vehicle identifiers drivers. Accordingly, 74% of respondents noted that visual already deployed on commercial vehicles (e.g., license plates inspections are a primary method for either selecting a com- and U.S. DOT numbers). Baron's tests indicated disappointing mercial vehicle for inspection or determining the type/level results for the license plate readers (LPR). Many issues ham- of inspection to be conducted. pered the LPRs performance. A primary factor affecting the utility of LPRs was the vary- Uploading Inspection Data--In order to standardize the ing design of jurisdictions' license plates. Factors such as data collected during the inspection process, FMCSA devel- the type of characters used on a jurisdiction's license plate oped the ASPEN inspection software. This software allows (e.g., raised characters, embossed characters, painted on char- enforcement personnel to electronically record a commercial acters); the placement of a jurisdiction's name on the license vehicle inspection. The system's built-in validation also was plate; and the type and color of paint on a license plate all designed to improve the quality of data collected at the road- affected the accuracy of the readers. These factors combined side. To date, the majority of enforcement personnel have with the need to read the license plate at speed, in all weather been satisfied with the software. Sixty-three percent of sur- conditions led Baron to conclude that there was no viable vey respondents reported that their current inspection tools LPR system at the time. Similarly, the use of OCR devices to (e.g., ASPEN) are meeting the needs of law enforcement. detect and interpret the U.S. DOT number from the side of a As inspection operations become more decentralized, how- commercial vehicle have been hampered by the lack of uni- ever, the need for improved communication networks to sup- formity in sizing and placement of the motor carrier infor- port the upload of inspection data from remote sites increases. mation on the vehicle. Also affecting OCR performance is Twenty-nine percent of respondents cited the need to upgrade the placement of some commercial vehicles' mirrors and the the communication infrastructure in their jurisdiction. These shadows that they cast on the writing. communication upgrades also would allow roadside personnel Baron concluded that a bar code reader was the most appro- to access federal and state safety data systems (e.g., SAFER, priate technology to meet FMCSA's requirements. Using a CVIEW) remotely. system from Pearpoint Inc., Baron observed success rates between 65% and 100% depending on vehicle speeds, bar- Institutional code sizes, placement of the barcode, contamination (e.g., dirt), and simulated weather conditions (e.g., plastic applied to the Industry concerns about privacy and "big brother" have bar code to simulate fog). The major concern regarding bar- been a key obstacle to the deployment of some enforcement codes was (is) that they must be retrofitted to all commercial technologies. In particular, technologies that could be used to motor vehicles and therefore require the cooperation of the monitor commercial drivers have raised privacy concerns. carrier community. Likewise, some motor carriers have opted not to participate At the time of Baron's test, Radio Frequency Identification in electronic screening programs due to fears that enforcement (RFID) tags were deemed insufficient for identifying com- agencies will use the transponder data to track commercial mercial vehicles at speed. Issues with sensor distance, interfer- vehicles and enforce numerous laws/regulations (e.g., hours ence from an adjoining E-ZPass system that operated at a of service, speeding). These concerns must be considered frequency close to that of the RFID transponder, and the when new strategies are being contemplated. Operators of inability to record both the transponder ID and associated some successful programs/services have assuaged these fears data packet at normal vehicle speeds led to Baron's assess- by promising not to use the system's data for enforcement ment. It should be noted, however, that RFID tags, have purposes. Further, adherence to the ITS Guiding Principles-- been successfully deployed and currently are the most one of which requires that all systems be voluntary in nature-- widely (and successfully) used means of identifying commer- also will address the industry's fears.
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11 The expanding responsibilities of roadside enforcement · The lack of standardized inspection tools/practices from personnel also are an institutional issue. The terrorist attacks jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction (42%). of September 11, 2001, have increased the nation's focus on commercial vehicle drivers and cargo. Unfortunately, these Working with industry representatives to demonstrate that elements had not been incorporated into previous alternative changes in the inspection process will help to rectify these inspection models and now are being retrofitted where possi- complaints will be key. There is no doubt that there will be ble. This new role also is requiring coordination with a vari- numerous "cooperative technologies" employed that will ety of different federal agencies, including the Transportation require industry to do something that will cost them time and Security Administration (TSA), United States Customs and money. Government must be prepared to quantitatively show Border Protection (CBP), and the United States Department how incorporation of these technologies by carriers will in the of Agriculture (USDA), as well as with their states' depart- long term reduce their operating costs of compliant carriers. ments of homeland security. These relationships continue to be defined/refined. Numerous states are participating in oper- ational tests with these agencies, including a container track- Budgetary ing project in the State of Washington, and the monitoring of in-bound agricultural shipments transiting the United States Many states have been confronted with declining revenues from Laredo, Texas to Canada. and budget shortfalls. These shortfalls, in many cases, have resulted in reduced commercial vehicle enforcement activi- ties. Accordingly, 57% of survey respondents cited the lack Industry Buy-In of enforcement resources as a concern. This combined with One of the most important factors that must be considered the projected increases in commercial vehicle traffic and the when discussing changes in the commercial vehicle inspec- increased responsibility of roadside enforcement personnel tion process is the potential impact on the industry. The are primary reasons why jurisdictions are interested in adopt- industry representatives that were interviewed agreed that the ing alternative technologies that improve the effectiveness of current inspection process must be augmented, in order to be their resources by targeting them at "high-risk" vehicles. more effective. They further agree that high-risk drivers, car- Budgetary challenges also impact a jurisdiction's ability to riers, and vehicles must be taken off the road. The industry deploy some alternative strategies. The strategies that have desires a "level playing field," in which all operators are held been most widely deployed are those that have been funded to the same safety standards. Further, the industry realizes by FMCSA (e.g., ASPEN, screening algorithms) or involve that commercial vehicle crashes portray a negative image on a private-sector partner (e.g., PrePass). The recent passage of their industry; one that they wish to dispel. the highway reauthorization bill (SAFTEA-LU) will make The survey of enforcement agencies identified several con- additional funds available to jurisdictions for the implemen- cerns regarding the inspection process that are often cited by tation of inspection technologies (e.g., electronic screening the industry. These concerns include systems, virtual inspection sites). Under this new law, each state is eligible to receive federal deployment grants up to · Travel delays associated with an inspection (58%); $2.5 million (minus the total federal funds received previ- · The number of inspections that they are subjected to ously) to deploy the core CVISN capabilities and an addi- (54%); and tional $1 million to deploy expanded CVISN functionality.