The goal of trucking industry is to move goods safely, quickly, and profitably. From 2012 to 2018, freight movement on trucks increased 11%, or nearly 2% per year according to the U.S. DOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). BTS reported that two-thirds of all U.S. freight was moved by truck in 2018. BTS predicts a 21% increase in truck tonnage between 2018 and 2045, driven by the world economy and consumption within the U.S. In 2045, trucks are expected to still haul two-thirds of all freight. Regulatory functions like safety inspections are important to take unsafe vehicles off the road and to verify compliant companies’ safety record. State agencies, who are expected to handle increases in trucking without corresponding increases in staff, have used technology—such as electronic screening, tire anomaly checking, thermal brake inspection, over-dimension detection, and automated permitting systems—to keep pace. State agencies share truck size and weight and safety inspection information within their own boundaries and report to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, but rarely share directly with neighboring states.
Sharing information with neighboring states could reduce the cost and workload for size, weight, and safety enforcement. If each state could bypass trucks that have satisfied the mutual requirements of both states, recently processed trucks would not have to be detained again. Arizona and Utah already share information at Utah’s I-15 St. George facility, located just 70 miles upstream from a planned Nevada site. A data-sharing arrangement with Utah could save Nevada the cost of the I-15 site they have planned. Conversely, Nevada cold save Utah costs on northbound I-15 traffic. The value to the states would be much greater than data sharing through federal databases because the shared information would have immediate operational value.
Sharing real-time data requires an information architecture, data standards, and enabling technology. For example, the information system technology that supports the International Registration Plan (IRP) is AAMVAnet, developed by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA). Institutional arrangements are also necessary. One potential mechanism is the interstate compact. An interstate compact is an agreement established by legislatures of two or more states to enable states to act jointly outside the constraints of the federal government. Interstate compacts were used before the establishment of the federal government and are referenced in Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution. The Council of State Governments describes interstate compacts as "the most powerful, durable, and adaptive tools for ensuring cooperative action among the states." Each state is already a member of on average 25 compacts. Four compacts related to trucking—the IRP, the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA), the Driver License Compact, and the Vehicle Title Compact—have operated for more than 35 years. IRP and IFTA include 49 States and the 10 Canadian provinces. The need, benefits, technology, and institutional arrangements related to sharing interstate data using standard messages need to be studied nationally. Full regulatory harmonization will never be found using the state by state approach, with statutes that vary from state to state. The entry point to harmonizing starts with data sharing between states. After data sharing is proven on regulatory processes, multi-state permits and other harmonization could be added.
The objectives of this research are to (1) evaluate the need, feasibility, and benefits of establishing real-time commercial vehicle data sharing among states; (2) design an information architecture, including data elements and standards, to support data sharing among states; and (3) propose an institutional arrangement to establish and sustain ongoing data sharing among states.
Direction from the AASHTO Special Committee on Research & Innovation: The scope of this research should have a domestic focus while acknowledging the potential to coordinate with Canadian counterparts. Motor vehicle agencies should be included. The scope should also address the hosting and ongoing maintenance requirements of potential solutions.