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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Wireless Mobile Devices OK’d as E-Scale Transponders

Mobile devices such as smart phones and GPS navigators as transponders have been officially approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety for electronic inspection and weigh station bypass systems.

According to Heavy Duty Trucking magazine, the new policy permitting Commercial Mobile Radio Service devices expands the scope of these systems beyond the traditional Dedicated Short Range Communications systems now used for electronic screening services.

In a Federal Register notice, the agency said that use of the CMRS devices will accelerate development of electronic screening by state enforcement officials.

Electronic screening systems give enforcement officials instant access to carrier and driver data as the truck passes by a fixed or mobile inspection station. Officials can check the truck and driver’s safety status, and either clear them to go about their business or pull them in for a closer look.

The systems also help to reduce congestion and emissions at inspection sites, as well as save fuel, the agency said.
Under the policy, communications can be provided by wireless mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, GPS navigation units and onboard telematics, as well as fleet management systems. However, prohibitions against texting and use of hand-held phones remains in place.

The Ontario Trucking Association notes this announcement by FMCSA is a positive step in the right direction and could open the door for additional dialogue with MTO on the suitability of this type of technology in Ontario for both scale-by-pass and the accounting and crediting of triage type inspections.

The OTA Board of Directors supports the exploration of such technology, provided OTA and MTO agree on its application, scope and benefits to both government and industry.

Currently, MTO is without a mechanism to account for or crediting “triage” type inspections — which make up approximately 97% of interaction MTO has with carriers — whereby trucks are given a quick once over by officers, approved and sent on their way.

The deployment of this type of technology would better demonstrate the out-of-service rates for the Ontario trucking industry is well below 1 per cent, which affirms the industry’s ongoing commitment to operating safely.