Smart Roadside System keeps track
Hundreds of trucks stream past the ubiquitous satellite dish and small camera every day. Drivers don’t give more than casual notice to the new roadside station – if they notice at all. And few realize that a wealth of information is being electronically captured about the vehicle they’re operating and made available for viewing on the Internet by commercial vehicle inspectors.
It’s all there – vehicle length, weight and speed, the number of axles, the weight per axle and the date and time the commercial vehicle passed. That information helps enforcement personnel keep close track of commercial vehicles entering the U.S. through one of the two international crossings into Idaho.
The virtual weigh stations – called a Smart Roadside Monitoring System – were constructed on U.S. 95 and Idaho 1 last winter and became operational early this spring, said Reymundo Rodriguez, manager of ITD’s commercial vehicles section.
“Both of the stations take photos of commercial vehicles traveling in both directions, but the real emphasis is on trucks entering Idaho.”
The two stations were secured through a border enforcement grant from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at a total cost of $788,000. The request was a submitted collaboratively by Idaho Transportation Department and the Idaho State Police. Installation was done by International Road Dynamics of Canada.
The intent, Rodriguez explains, is to increase the number of international inspections that ITD’s Port of Entry personnel and Idaho State Police inspectors perform on incoming commercial vehicles.
Ultimately, it will give much better control of incoming vehicles and significantly increase border security.
The most common violations in early use of the system have been with logbooks (hours of service) and equipment, such as the number of axles making contact with the roadway.
As trucks drive over electronic scales placed in the highway surface, total weight can be calculated. Heavier loads require more axles to evenly distribute the weight. If truck drivers raise an axle to achieve better fuel efficiency or speed, more weight is distributed over fewer tires, which can result in premature wear on the highway surface.
A high-speed camera also captures an image of the truck as it passes, which is electronically integrated to the data the systems records.
It is state-of-the-art equipment, Rodriguez says, although Commercial Vehicle Services already is looking at enhancements. It is capable of generating reports based on the data collected, but additional training will be needed first.
Rodriguez said he is not aware of any comparable system operating in the Pacific Northwest, although some are in place in the southern U.S.