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ON THE HORIZON


HELP, Inc., the public-private partnership administering the PrePass truck sorting and selection system, spent $400 million installing 292 mobile inspection sites in 30 states over the past 15 years, and in continuing research and development. The technology allows transponder-equipped trucks to speed past inspection stations that, using sensors beneath the roadway, can determine weights within 5 percent of static scales, as well as the truck’s length and height. PrePass-equipped inspection stations also can determine if a truck’s registration and fuel taxes are paid and if its credentials are in place. According to Rick Clasby, HELP’s president


and CEO, the system allowed 410 million successful bypasses from 1997 through 2010. Based on saving each truck driver five minutes per stop and saving the trucking industry $8 per hour, PrePass has saved the trucking industry $2.6 billion since it went into operation in 1997, Clasby said. A pilot project is underway in Montana


that uses a camera to read license plates and U.S. DOT numbers for trucks that are not equipped with a transponder. Clasby said that the technology is in the naming and branding stage and should go national in the near future. He said the technology is capable of many future add-ons such as laser detectors. It’s only a matter of time before more


detailed information will be available to inspectors. Wireless inspection sites will collect the various measures and transmit the data to a government database, where it will be processed and an inspection report transmitted to roadside enforcement as well as to the carrier. If the report is satisfactory, the truck will


continue though the inspection zone. If there are problems, the vehicle will be flagged for further inspection at the roadside. Asked if PrePass can determine whether


a truck’s tires are underinflated, Clasby said, “Not yet, but as we look to the future, there are on-board technologies that measure tire pressure. There are on-board technologies that can indicate brake and brake usage, and so I would say that the future of our operation will have the ability to communicate with the truck and be able to pass that kind of information to the carrier or to enforcement personnel.” Of course, while much of the technology


already exists, merging the public and private systems while ensuring both accuracy and security, will be a challenge, as will developing a system capable of processing the large number of trucks that may pass through an


ROADWISE | ISSUE 6, 2011 | www.mttrucking.org 15


area at peak hours, Flanigan explained. He anticipated such a system could be


fully tested and in place within five years, and that voluntary participation could play an important part in the development. Any wireless inspection system will


only be useful if it aids FMCSA in reducing crashes — and, until the CSA system itself is proven effective, truckers might want to make sure they understand what they’re getting into, said Jim Burg, president of James Burg Trucking and chairman of American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) Technology and Engineering Policy Committee.


“I do see a benefit to the industry, not


only to be able to bypass, but to use this technology to better the operation of the vehicle,” he said. “If this is going to assist in a pre-trip inspection that’s going to reduce costs, then there’s value that we can get behind — where it’s a more voluntary program from the carrier side, because it’s going to reduce costs.” And, given limited government inspection


resources, Burg suggested that wireless inspections that can let trucks keep moving make some sense. “To have those bypasses, that’s going to


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