A multi-year research partnership sponsored by the National Transportation Research Center Inc — with Volvo Trucks North America, Volvo Technology North America, and the University of Tennessee as partners — reveals an effective model for implementing wireless roadside inspections (WRIs) to improve transport efficiency and increase highway safety and security.
The Trusted Truck initiative began in 2004, evaluating technology and processes to allow trucks deemed safe and “trusted” to bypass inspection stations, freeing inspectors to focus on trucks whose condition has not been validated. The study concluded with a final demonstration of Trusted Truck on August 13 in Knoxville TN.
US Rep James L Oberstar of Minnesota, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, joined Rep John J Duncan Jr of Tennessee, ranking member of the Highway and Transit Subcommittee, representing the second Congressional District of Tennessee, as well as officials from government and other transportation sector organizations to see first-hand why Trusted Truck is the most promising avenue for wireless roadside inspections.
Under the latest version of the system evaluated in the effort, when a vehicle is registered as a Trusted Truck, its credentials are sent wirelessly to roadside inspectors, confirming that the driver, tractor, trailer and cargo meet all appropriate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requirements for safe cargo transportation.
When monitoring systems show a healthy vehicle and up-to-date credentials, the driver is signaled to proceed past the inspection station without stopping, saving both time and fuel. The system also serves as an early-warning system, sending a message to the fleet if a part or function is degrading and could become a safety concern.
On the other hand, if any problems are flagged, the truck is instructed to proceed to the upcoming inspection station and enters the inspection queue as usual.
While benefits of wireless inspection can be significant, the Trusted Trucks research team understood that it needed to address real-world issues that could affect adoption of the system.
“First, we developed the Trusted Truck technology to be used with any fleet management system,” said Tom Richter, Volvo Technology's principal investigator for Trusted Truck. “By developing the system to work with technology that is already available and already in-use by many fleets across the United States, we've largely overcome the cost and compatibility barrier.”
Secondly, Trusted Truck uses existing wireless technology, enabling it to be put into service quickly. The system can work with other Intelligent Transportation Systems initiatives that are planned or in development.
An additional factor is the commitment to confidentiality. All vehicle data is encrypted and sent to a non-government, third-party Trusted Truck Management Center (TTMC), which gives the driver the go/no-go signal.