High-tech safety and enforcement topic at next CVSA conference

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 7/3/2013

A conference of commercial law enforcement officials and trucking industry stakeholders will meet in September to discuss the use of on-board recorders, real-time vehicle tracking, crash avoidance systems and other high-tech tools that are promoted in the name of safety and compliance.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, or CVSA, hosts its annual conference and exhibition Sept. 16-18 in Denver. The alliance consists of local, state, provincial and federal law enforcement officials as well as stakeholders from the trucking industry.

OOIDA General Vice President Woody Chambers, along with Director of Security Operations Doug Morris and Business Services Assistant Manager Kip Hough represent the interests of truckers on CVSA committees.

While the overall conference contains a wide variety of subjects, the Intelligent Transportation Systems Technology Forum scheduled for Sept. 18 is already raising some eyebrows at least among the truckers.

CVSA has released a list of possible discussion points for the forum, and has asked government and industry to submit input by July 25. Topics could include advanced vehicle control/safety systems; driver assistance programs; on-board recording; electronic permitting; in-vehicle navigation; license-plate recognition systems; real-time tracking; vehicle-to-vehicle communication; virtual weigh stations and weight enforcement.

“Technology is moving fast and furiously ahead and there are a lot of companies out there trying to take advantage of it,” said Morris, who represents OOIDA on CVSA’s Driver Traffic Committee.

“You have license-plate readers, and now some states looking at virtual weigh stations and technology that supposedly helps the driver drive more safely,” Morris said. “But to be honest, technology doesn’t drive a truck, a driver drives a truck and training is the best way to get a safer driver on the road, not technology.”

Another component to the discussion is what happens to the data collected by companies or law enforcement.

“The technology is out there and it’s moving fast, and we have to keep an eye on these things because we don’t know where this data is going,” Morris said. “What are they doing with this data? Are they releasing it to other companies? They could pass that data on to other companies and that could be used against that driver.”

Officials presenting at the forum will likely call on vendors to present their technologies, just like they did years ago when red-light cameras and speed enforcement cameras emerged, Morris said.

And with state and local governments looking to raise revenue to fill budget gaps, the temptation of revenue from enforcement fines against truckers is certainly something to consider, Morris said.

“These virtual weigh stations are basically going to be revenue generators in the future,” Morris cites as an example. “I think you’ll see them pop up around the country.”

Morris said he and the other OOIDA representatives will raise the right questions and points during the conference.

“Some of this technology limits the driver from making basic maneuver. Oftentimes, a driver avoids a situation by making a basic defensive maneuver,” Morris said. “I would rather drive next to a trained driver than someone with all the bells and whistles who isn’t trained.”

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