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Formal debut of “e-inspection” technology

June 18, 2013

A long-awaited demonstration of what’s being dubbed “e-inspection” technology took place this week at the West Friendship Weigh Station and Inspection Site outside Baltimore, MD – technology that will allow trucks to transmit driver information, electronic logbook data vehicle weight, and other details electronically in real-time while the vehicle remains in motion.

“The fundamental focus of this technology is safety,” Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), explained to Fleet Owner at the event.

“This will allow us to leverage all the safety data available concerning drivers and vehicles and make it available to our inspectors in real time,” she noted. “It can’t be understated how seamless and more efficient this can make safety enforcement, especially when it comes to addressing hours of service [HOS] related issues.”

Brian Heath, president of Drivewyze, Inc., which developed this “e-inspection” system, said it is based on commercial vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) systems that electronically connect trucks and commercial buses with weight and inspection stations, leveraging GPS and telematics technologies to help augment traditional roadside safety inspections.  The system is also “cloud-based” to help lower its overall cost, he stressed.

“But it’s not just about safety enforcement; it’s also about improving freight efficiency,” Heath told Fleet Owner. “It reduces delays for carriers, allowing those with good records and compliant status to bypass weight and inspection sites – all at a cost of about $8.58 a month.”

Heath added that Drivewyze’s “e-inspection” system rests of an “open platform” meaning HOS data and other vehicle information can be extracted and transmitted from any number of onboard technologies provided by firms such as PeopleNet, XRS, Zonar, and others via connections already imbedded at truck scales and inspection sites throughout the country by the Federal Highway Administration [FHWA].

“But our technology not only captures the weight of a vehicle, it adds that data to the vehicle profile for use at other inspection stations that may be many miles from the sensors itself,” Heath said. “This eliminates the need to install weigh-in-motion systems at each enforcement site and adds the entire network of federal and state weighing systems as a potential source for the Drivewyze bypass program.”

He noted that private industry, in partnership with 19 state agencies and the trucking industry together, are all participating voluntarily in this “V2I” deployment at no cost to taxpayers. 

Captain Norman Dofflemyer, commander of the Maryland State Police, noted that his state has been using the Drivewyze bypass system at all of its 15 inspection stations since last September, allowing his officers to better utilize scarce resources. 

“As it’s used today, this is a transparent, neutral platform that allows state agencies to reward safe truck and bus companies – as indicated by Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) scores – with bypass opportunities,” he explained. “This frees front line inspection officers to focus their attention on the trucks and buses that need inspections. Based on carrier, vehicle and driver-level data, and a state’s bypass criteria, trucks are told to either bypass or report to the weigh station.  Aside from a 2% random inspection, most fleets with high safety scores can enjoy bypass rates of up to 98%.”

The capability to transmit additional commercial driver’s license (CDL) and HOS compliance information, plus weigh in motion, make it even more efficient from an enforcement perspective, Dofflemyer added.

“The problem in the industry is there are too many trucks and not enough manpower for inspections,” he stressed. “With all of the vehicles coming into the weigh station – and we see some intrastate delivery trucks three or four times per day – systems and inspections can get clogged. It’s inefficient.”

Indeed, officers at the West Friendship location told Flewet Owner that this facility typically sees 2,000 trucks passing over its scales every day during its 14 to 16 hours of operation – averaging anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 vehicles per week.

But now with the Drivewyze program, said Dofflemyer, inspectors can target better their enforcement actions.  “If the carrier or driver has a solid safety record, and is not overweight), we can wave them through at the inspection site,” he explained.  “If we see a borderline case, or poor CSA score, we may inspect driver information and logbooks, plus do a vehicle inspection.”

Drivewyze’s Heath hopes that the opportunity to save time, fuel and money by bypassing weigh and inspection stations will encourage carriers to sign up for the program.

“The trucking industry is very motivated to have these advanced real-time driver and vehicle safety screening events count ‘e-inspections’ in their safety profile,” he said.  “The hope would be that e-Inspections could be accepted by FMCSA as a new type of inspection that would count as a credit in a carrier’s CSA safety score, for the more FMCSA rewards carriers for investments in this technology, the more information the industry will be willing to share in exchange. But, again, right now it’s voluntary.” 

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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