Technology lightens the load for truckers
Demonstration tests have confirmed the compatibility of technologies used in the nation’s the largest electronic clearance systems for commercial vehicles. HELP (Heavy Vehicle Electronic License Plate) Inc.’s “PrePass” in the West and Advantage CVO on Interstate 75, which stretches from Michigan to Florida.
Both Prepass and Advantage 75 allow trucks to be weighed at highway speeds and have their state-required credentials checked electronically without stopping. Each uses dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) technology that is provided by Hughes Transportation Management Systems, Fullerton, Calif.
In recently concluded tests, the I-75 clearance system was able to electronically identify a Prepass transponder and communicate weigh station bypass status. In April, at the Banning, Calif., weigh station, the Prepass system was able to process an Advantage I-75 transponder.
Both programs collected the data and certified the results. The successful demonstration could have major ramifications for the industry, leading to the adoption of a single DSRC protocol that would ensure interoperability of electronic clearance systems for motor carriers nationwide.
“The steps being taken by I-75 and HELP Inc. go a long way toward creating interoperability for a national preclearance clearance system for motor carriers,” says Rick Schuman, director of system applications for ITS America.
“Having two platforms with systems that can be interoperable and transparent parent to the trucker is beneficial to everyone because it helps move commerce to market faster,” says Michael Onder, CVO program coordinator at the ITS Joint Program Office at the U.S. Department of Transportation. The successful demonstration, he says, “shows that we can achieve e seamless transportation system using electronic technology that has been our goal all along.”
PrePass – the nation’s first commercially service – was launched this past summer in California. The service is available at seven weigh stations on l5 in California with seven more expected to be operating statewide by the end of the year.
PrePass is also operating at one site on I-40 in New Mexico, with four more planned, including the 1-10 and I-25 corridors. In addition, HELP expects to begin Prepass service at five weigh stations on I-10, I-40 and I-15 in Arizona this summer.
By the end of the year, the system will be available at more than 30 sites, and several other states are also expected to provide Prepass service to motor carriers.
“We expect more than 15,000 trucks will be using Prepass by the end of this year, triple the number now enrolled,” says Richard Landis, executive director of HELP, a non-profit corporation based in Phoenix that works with the trucking industry and public sector transportation leaders in 11 states to develop and implement technology services to improve the flow of commercial traffic.
The growth of Prepass and the interest it has generated among HELP-member states are truly impressive, reflecting the multitude of benefits this service brings to the trucking industry, highway and law enforcement agencies and the traveling public,” he says.
Prepass uses innovative automatic vehicle identification technologies, weigh-in-motion sensors and transponders to electronically weigh and identify the trucks as they approach weigh stations.
After trucks are weighed and their credentials checked, an in-cab transponder lets drivers know if they can bypass the weigh station.
By allowing pre-approved trucks to bypass waiting lines at weigh stations, both Prepass and Advantage CVO provide freight haulers with a safer and more efficient way to move their products to market.
In addition to streamlining the movement of commercial vehicles, these clearance systems promote improved highway safety, air quality and fuel efficiency. Only the safest trucks are accepted into the programs.
Safety is enhanced further by the reduced number of times trucks have to pull over. Enforcement agencies are also better able to focus their resources on trucks in greatest need of inspection. The clearance systems also offer environmental benefits by eliminating the need to idle in weigh station lines. The trucks burn less fuel thus reducing exhaust emissions.