FMCSA personnel in October last year showcased new-to-market and emerging roadside inspection technologies at the Greene County, Tenn., scales, where Lieutenant James A. McKenzie of the Tennessee Highway Patrol demonstrated them to us just as this issue was going to press. These technologies already in some instances partially automate screening processes, and Wireless Roadside Inspection (WRI) technology in particular could boost the number of inspections nationwide by up to 25 times fully deployed in future, particularly if FMCSA’s recent proposal to mandate electronic on-board recorders goes through, paving the way for WRI operability.
• Wireless Roadside Inspection is designed to allow as much as 25 times more vehicle inspections than the current inspection process. In real time, an inspector can obtain driver and carrier identity, vehicle condition and hours-of-service violations.
• Smart Infrared Inspection System detects brake, wheel and tire problems by comparing infrared thermal images of wheels as the vehicle enters a weigh station, in use in Greene County and in some other areas.
• Performance-Based Brake Tester provides a safe, accurate and objective assessment of a vehicle’s brake force and overall performance and is partially deployed in several states.
CSA Accountability Problems
Dealing with crash accountability in the CSA ranking system, which still doesn’t reflect whether a crash is preventable, among other problems, remains a large concern for many carriers.
“[When] a drunk auto driver driving the wrong way down an interstate at three in morning hits our truck and kills himself, both our driver and we as a carrier get hit with the full weight of a fatality crash,” Schneider National’s Don Osterberg says. “That is fundamentally unfair.”
The American Trucking Associations has proposed creating a team to review law enforcement reports to determine accountability in accidents. ATA’s Rob Abbott says FMCSA has tested the proposal, labeling the results “promising.” The agency wants to open the proposal to public comment as part of its rulemaking process. “In effect, the change probably wouldn’t be made for two years or more,” he says.
Osterberg says such a review board is an “over-engineered solution” to the problem. Instead, he recommends assigning CSA points against the truck driver and carrier only if law enforcement formally cited the driver, which he calls a “proxy for preventability.”
Further adjustment in severity weights in some instances also appears necessary. Osterberg cites tire-related violations, finding fault with the issuance of a severity score of 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 for most tire-related problems. He says his company has challenged the correlation of that severity rating to crash causation in all situations. He says he accepts a severity rating of 8 for steer tires, but would assign a 5 rating for drive tires and 2 for trailer tires.
Another industry concern is with cargo securement and how to deal with sealed, shipper-loaded trailers. Osterberg says CSA regulations provide the driver won’t be held accountable for securement of a pre-loaded trailer, but the same relief isn’t provided to carriers. “Security issues, particularly with food and pharmaceuticals, make it impractical for a carrier to break seals to inspect loads,” he says.
Save $10 on PSP Report Request
Working through the official contractor, NIC Technology, the fee to obtain a copy of your Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Pre-Employment Screening Program report to guarantee quality of the information is $10, but some drivers have successfully avoided the fee by making Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain the same information without charge.