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Savings accrue from on-line from truck screening

First publishedin ITS International
2013 September October
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toll payment
PrePass enables toll payment throughout the E-ZPass system (Image: Virginia DOT)

An online truck pre-clearance system is allowing enforcement to be better targeted towards offending vehicles.

Utah is the latest US State department of transportation (DOT) to deploy HELP (Heavy Vehicle Electronic License Plate) Inc’s new 360SmartView electronic truck screening and sorting system at vehicle inspection sites to speed up compliance checks. The initial locations will be at Perry on Interstate 15 (I-15), which were the first sites in the state to implement HELP’s PrePass transponder-based vehicle identification system.

This gives participating commercial vehicles pre-clearance to bypass designated weigh stations while travelling at highway speed. The new cloud-based technology extends the concept by giving enforcement officials access to a single ‘360-view’ display of each truck’s current safety compliance status, as well as company and driver credentials, enabling them to decide whether or not to selec it for detailed checks.

The system expands federal motor carrier (FMC) data with input from over 90 federal and State sources that do not currently report to the US FMC Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s commercial vehicle information or safety and fitness electronic records systems. It aims to address the fact that, at most US interstate highway inspection sites, State enforcement officers process between two and six trucks per minute, with resources enabling them to check only 1% of these. As with PrePass, the technology allows compliant carriers to carry on, leaving officers to focus on suspect vehicles.

Utah’s decision follows the publication by the Montana DoT (MDT) of the first year’s results of its deployment of a 360SmartView system at its Billings eastbound inspection site on I-90. It cost US$450,000, installed and tested. 

COST: US$450,000 per unit



• 23% increase in violations detected per inspection
• 25% increase in vehicles falling within the FMCSA’s ‘Inspect’ category
• 50% increase in temporary fuel permit sales
• 88% increase in temporary vehicle registration permit sales
Results include: a 23% increase in violations detected per inspection; a 25% increase in vehicles falling within the FMCSA’s ‘Inspect’ category; and increases in revenue from temporary fuel and vehicle registration permit sales of 55% and 88% respectively. The cumulative annual increase was worth more than US$28,000, to be applied to highway maintenance.

Montana’s Motor Carrier Services (MCS) Operations Bureau chief Dennis Hult told ITS International: “The figures show that the system is successfully identifying those interstate carriers that have not registered or licenced their vehicles to operate in Montana”.

Of the 500,000-plus vehicles passing annually through Billings, data from the 360SmartView system conservatively estimates that more than 10,000 are not in compliance with US Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) credentials. Based on the new ability of enforcement personnel to screen about 20% of these, MDT projects a potential increase in fine revenue of more than US$270,000 annually.

360SmartView electronically identifies trucks, using ANPR cameras that read licence plates and the USDOT vehicle numbers displayed on the sides. It can be deployed at staffed or unstaffed inspection sites, or for access by officials with mobile enforcement units – with an automated query giving an appropriate response for truck selection.

360SmartView has been developed by Xerox Company ACS, HELP’s system provider, and was chosen as one of six US projects nationally for Microsoft’s Azure Windows Technology Adoption Program (TAP).  The core system is designed for integration with roadside hardware including laser dimensioning and thermal imaging, and to be technology-agnostic. While, therefore, it currently uses licence plate and USDOT readers to identify vehicles and carriers, its back-end screening can accommodate transponder-based and other technologies. Hult told ITS International: “Our Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks team identified the need for the system through its development plan process. We recognised the efficiencies to be gained from the increased effectiveness of existing resources”.
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360SmartView officer interface screen
The 360SmartView officer interface screen that works with cameras recording licence plate and USDOT vehicle number details. (Images removed for privacy)
By year end the Bureau plans to deploy two mobile systems mounted on pull-behind trailers. These will work with existing MDT weigh-in-motion systems.

Conceived in 1983, HELP now has nearly 450,000 interstate trucks enrolled in PrePass, which is in operation at over 300 inspection sites in 31 US States. It funds the installation of the basic equipment at many State inspection sites with the aid of monthly service charges paid by voluntarily participating trucking companies.

Its PrePass Plus enables drivers equipped with fusion transponders to pay tolls on roads and bridges that are part of the E-ZPass system. Twenty years old in August 2013, this interoperable EFC scheme embraces toll operations in 15 US States.

Help Inc has recently selected 5.9GHz DSRC (Dedicated Short-Range Communications) technology – chosen by USDOT as the standard for its Connected Vehicle Program – to power the next generation of PrePass.

Kapsch TrafficCom North America, which supplies Xerox with PrePass equipment, has supported a trial of 5.9GHz at inspection stations in three US States, using its TS3306 onboard unit and MTX reader.

Tokyo challenges

There will be five International Benefits, Evaluation and Costs (IBEC) Working Group sessions at the 2013 ITS World Congress (Tokyo 14-18 October). Among the key issues being discussed will be how to cut road deaths in two continents; compare ITS evaluations globally; and the realistic evaluation of the benefits of cooperative ITS.

Working as a cooperative, IBEC seeks to coordinate and expand international exchanges on ITS techniques and evaluations. It wants easier access to information, so that decision makers can make better informed judgements on ITS investments.

IBEC Management Committee member William Johnson says: “IBEC has found its cooperative relationship with the annual ITS World Congresses gives it ideal venues to achieve its goals in a worldwide context. Congresses, too, benefit from a relationship that brings forward leading-edge topics for open and constructive debate.” In ITS – Making Cost-Benefit Analysis Cases for Policy, Operator and Traveller (SIS41), the floor will consider whether separate cost/benefit ratios for each sector would encourage wider ITS investment and deployment. 

In Comparing ITS Evaluation Methodologies Internationally, the speaker will examine the challenges to, and common denominators for, making distinct approaches more easily comparable. Why (not) Evaluate ITS? will look at the barriers to having ITS evaluations on the scale needed to justify investment and how can these be overcome? Finally, Evaluation of Cooperative and Automated Driving will ask if the projected benefits are likely to be realised, how drivers will behave and what happens when there is a crash?

The Management Committee is inviting all members present in Tokyo to its Annual General Meeting, which will be held on 16 October at 0730 hours in the ITS America congress office.

• Further information from Patty Fusaro at pfusaro@itsa.org


System assessments

USDOT has recently evaluated the safety implications of the electronic screening of potentially higher-risk carriers and drivers. It found that selection for manual inspection is successful in avoiding about 0.7% of the 441,000 truck-related crashes that occur each year. 

With e-screening to give officials decision support, the success rate rises to between 3.5% and 4.8 %, equating to between 15,000 and 21,000 crashes avoided. USDOT calculates the associated cost reduction at between US$1.8bn and US$2.6bn a year.

A 2012 HELP survey of over 800 US motor carriers found 84% ranking electronic preclearance as the most important technology for boosting industry efficiency. Over 80% also expressed strong support for the future integration of onboard transponder technology to include other applications such as hours of service and real-time vehicle operational monitoring.

At the same time, fewer than 20% showed interest in using smartphone applications, with nearly 45% saying they did not want active devices in their vehicles. The findings reflect concerns over driver distraction and data privacy.

Companies in this article

Kapsch TrafficCom
Help Inc
ITS International
Xerox Company

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