Motor carrier law enforcement has always been outnumbered. While there are over 500K motor carriers and 3.5 million drivers operating nearly 4 million Class 8 trucks, there are only approximately 13,000 state/local inspectors and 830 FMCSA personnel to police them. To keep up, FMCSA has developed some novel strategies to do more with less, focusing on data and efficiency.

The best example of this evolution is the Compliance, Safety and Accountability program which uses roadside inspection and crash data to target the highest risk carriers for investigation. The ELD mandate is also a good example. While its primary purpose was to improve compliance with the hours-of-service rules, it also came with the development of eRODS, an application that partially automates violation discovery. Other examples include the gradual implementation of wireless roadside inspections and FMCSA’s update of enforcement rules to allow rateable compliance reviews to be conducted remotely.

The latest FMCSA regulatory agenda includes two initiatives that could change how motor carriers interact with law enforcement and gives STC reason to believe this trend will continue.

The first is an effort to require every commercial motor vehicle to be equipped with a device capable of communicating a unique identification number electronically when queried by law enforcement, making roadside inspections more efficient.

The second is a rulemaking to update FMCSA’s Safety Fitness Procedures to allow the agency to “use data and resources more effectively to identify unfit motor carriers” and to “seek public input on possible changes to the current three-tier safety fitness rating structure.”  Savvy 60 Seconds with STC readers will wonder if this is FMCSA’s effort to revive the conversation about using CSA to automatically make Safety Fitness Determinations on motor carriers, or potentially drivers? Perhaps, but either way, these rulemakings are bound to mark another turning point in the evolution of motor carrier law enforcement.

Stay tuned as FMCSA continues to develop its strategy to deal with automated vehicles.