The changing world of pre-clearance
Do you want to share your ELD data?

By John Bendel, contributing writer

A new player is shaking things up in the world of inspection station bypass. Drivewyze launched only two years ago and already has agreements for use in 20 states. Utah was the latest to sign up in February. By comparison PrePass, the largest bypass service provider, is used in 31 states, but PrePass has been around since 1997 and traces its origins back to the 1980s.

However, Drivewyze is breaking new ground with a troubling suggestion that certain driver-specific information be used in a bypass context. It’s a small suggested step, but it crosses an important line nonetheless.

So far, almost all the information used to arrive at an inspection bypass decision derives from the truck and the fleet, SAFER scores for example. It’s true that PrePass weighs driver information in the process of qualifying a fleet for participation in its program, but not in the day-to-day decisions to pull a truck in or to grant a bypass.

Drivewyze wants to change that. The company would like fleets and drivers to share data from ELDs (electronic log devices). They say use of the data could eventually result in a higher rate of bypasses for drivers in compliance.

Clearly, that would set an unfortunate precedent.

The primary reason that Drivewyze is spreading so quickly is probably that it requires very little initial investment. Unlike PrePass and other systems that require infrastructure along highways, Drivewyze uses GPS, the Internet and smartphones. Drivers don’t need transponders.

Because it’s way cheaper to set up, Drivewyze can be used for temporary roadside inspection sites. In any case, states have been signing up, even if they already use another installed system.

There are other differences between newcomer Drivewyze and still-dominant PrePass. For example, PrePass owns the data it uses. In the case of Drivewyze, data belongs to the individual states. The same difference has long separated PrePass from other bypass services that insist on government ownership.

However, there is little practical difference according to Capt. Chris Turner of the Kansas Highway Patrol. Kansas, which has six PrePass facilities, has also deployed Drivewyze at eight locations.

“We have always been able to query a driver’s history. And we always had the ability to get PrePass information. We just had to have a warrant. A judge had to sign off on the request,” Turner said.

So for drivers the greatest difference between the programs is probably not who owns the data, but the requirements for joining in the first place. PrePass will not admit carriers with safety records below a certain threshold, while virtually anyone can join Drivewyze.

That difference creates a wide gap in the rates of bypass that a carrier or driver will likely receive. Drivewyze predicts on its website that members can expect a green bypass light from 50 percent to 75 percent of the time. PrePass says its members get the green light 95 percent of the time. Obviously, PrePass membership requirements greatly increase green-light odds.

But Drivewyze is trying to increase their odds and also automate a piece of the inspection punch list. That’s where the driver log data comes in.

Last year in Maryland, Drivewyze demonstrated what it calls an e-inspection program. FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro attended the well-publicized event.

E-inspection added at least one critical element to an inspection bypass decision: driver hours of service.

“We weren’t transmitting actual log information,” said Drivewyze Vice President of Technology Brian Mofford about the Maryland demonstration. “All law enforcement cares about is, are you within your drive hours for the day and for the week.”

So Drivewyze showed it was able to establish whether a driver was in compliance without sending actual log details. The data transmitted to the weigh or inspection station consisted only of check marks in the boxes representing hours for the day and hours for the week.

Mofford stressed that any future program using log data would be on a strictly voluntary opt-in basis.

Why would a driver allow Drivewyze access to his ELD?

Mofford explained that Drivewyze is asking the FMCSA to reward those who allow access with potential credit toward CSA scores. If everything checks out electronically and a driver is allowed to bypass a station, Mofford reasons, that driver should receive at least some of the credit he would receive with a full inspection. Ferro’s attendance at the demonstration implies FMCSA interest in the Drivewyze idea at the very least.

Sounds harmless, but it opens a new electronic door to information that relates not to the fleet or the truck, but to an individual driver. Experience tells us that once opened, that door will never close.

It’s the next step in a progression that began with the deployment of early electronic logging devices with all their benefits and pitfalls. Sadly, those pitfalls have received far less attention than the benefits that are widely and loudly promoted by ELD providers. The next step is to mandate the devices (enriching those providers) regardless of their largely unacknowledged downside, which is represented by OOIDA and almost no one else.

But if it’s going to happen anyway, why not use the data to improve bypass efficiency?

Because it’s a serious precedent. Driving time is not the only part of a driver’s daily life that has been digitized. There may be driver-cam recordings. There may be data from company-imposed technologies intended to track virtually all observable driver behavior.

For example, one onboard device checks vehicle speed against the posted limit, beeps when a driver exceeds it, and if the driver doesn’t correct quickly enough it shoots an email to headquarters. Hard-braking is similarly reported and can generate a rapid company response. It’s beginning to feel like the invisible electronic fences that make formerly happy dogs cringe and grovel.

Could that kind of data be used for bypass decisions as well? And what about the electronic messages, both business and private, a driver sends and receives during a day? Might they be evidence of a driver’s state of mind? Should they be off-limits where safety is concerned?

Of course, Mofford and Drivewyze believe log access can only help drivers, at least in the context they’re proposing. Karen Asmussen, president of PrePass, is less certain about crossing the line into driver data.

“There are basic privacy issues at play. We’re beginning to be forewarned by legal counsel as (available data) gets closer to the individual,” she said.

OOIDA is concerned with driver data as well.

“We have concerns about privacy; we have concerns about this level of monitoring, with the opportunities for abuse,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.

“Drivers don’t know what information is being collected on them, they sure don’t know who it’s going to, and they certainly haven’t given their blessing to it.

“At some point,” Spencer said, “a driver should have the right to simply be left alone.” LL