The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officially approved mobile devices such as smart phones and GPS navigators as transponders for electronic inspection and weigh station bypass systems.

The new policy permitting Commercial Mobile Radio Service devices expands the scope of these systems beyond the traditional Dedicated Short Range Communications systems now used for electronic screening services.

In a Federal Register notice Friday, the agency said that use of the CMRS devices will accelerate development of electronic screening by state enforcement officials.

Most states have deployed basic screening systems and are working on expanding them, but there remain 11 that have not begun the process. This policy gives them another option besides the DSRC systems that require roadside infrastructure.

It also makes states eligible for expanded federal support under the Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks program.

The purpose of the program is to promote electronic screening as a way to focus enforcement resources on high-risk carriers.

Electronic screening systems give enforcement officials instant access to carrier and driver data as the truck passes by a fixed or mobile inspection station. Officials can check the truck and driver’s safety status, and either clear them to go about their business or pull them in for a closer look.

The systems also help to reduce congestion and emissions at inspection sites, as well as save fuel, the agency said.

Under the policy, communications can be provided by wireless mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, GPS navigation units and onboard telematics, as well as fleet management systems.

The agency noted that its prohibitions against texting and use of hand-held phones remains in place.

 

 

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