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Commercial Vehicle Size & Weight: Issues and Innovative Enforcement Ideas

Commercial Vehicle Size & Weight: Issues and Innovative Enforcement Ideas

January 18, 2006 Talking Freight Transcript


Good day ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Commercial Vehicle Size & Weight: Issues and Innovative Enforcement Ideas web seminar. I will be your audio coordinator for today. At this time, all participants are in listen-only mode. We will be conducting an audio question and answer session at the end of the presentation. You may also submit questions at any time throughout the presentation by using the q & a tab in the lower right hand corner of your webex window. If you require audio assistance please press star and a coordinator will be happy to assist you. Should you experience any difficulties for today's presentation, please contact web ex technical support 866-779-3239. I would now like to turn the presentation over to your host for today's conference, Jennifer Seplow.

Jennifer Seplow:

Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to the Talking Freight Seminar Series. My name is Jennifer Seplow and I will moderate today's seminar. Today's topic is Commercial Vehicle Size & Weight: Issues and Innovative Enforcement Ideas. Please be advised that today's seminar is being recorded.

Today we'll have three speakers - Bob Davis of the Federal Highway Administration Office of Freight Management and Operations, Tom Bold of the North Dakota Department of Transportation, and Mark Newland of the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Bob Davis is the chief of the Commercial Vehicle Size and Weight team in the FHWA's Office of Freight Management and Operations. During his 25 years with the U.S. Department of Transportation, he has served as a management analyst with both the Federal Transit Administration and the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, a research coordinator in the former Office of Motor Carriers (now Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), and a freight analyst.

Before taking the position of chief of vehicle size and weight in 2003, Bob participated in a number of freight-related projects for the Office of Freight Management, including the Department's review of Class I railroad merger requirements, and writing for what eventually became the first edition of the "Freight Story."

Bob hold a Bachelor's Degree in American Southern History from the University of Texas, and a Master's in Public Administration from George Washington University here in D.C.

Tom Bold is the Research and Pavement Design Coordinator in the Materials & Research Division of the North Dakota Department of Transportation. He and his staff are responsible for the oversight of the NDDOT's Research, Development, and Technology Transfer Program, and provide engineering support for all NDDOT flexible and rigid pavement rehabilitation and reconstruction projects.

Tom holds a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from North Dakota State University. He also holds an associate's degree in Electronics Technology from Bismarck State College and a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Mary with several years of private sector experience in the electronic communications and main frame computer industry.

In addition to his regular duties, Tom is currently serving as the project facilitator for the AASHTO-TIG (Technology Implementation Group) Focus Technology Project for Weigh-in-Motion. The North Dakota DOT, in conjunction with DOT's from California, Florida, Indiana, and Nevada, is participating in this project to promote the use of Weigh-in-Motion and Virtual Weigh-in-Motion technologies for truck weight & size enforcement, credential checking, and safety compliance activities.

The primary goal of this project is the development of a promotional message focused on the implementation of WIM and Virtual WIM technologies for the previously stated purposes. The promotional message will be based on the experience of states actively using the technologies. Presentations will be delivered to transportation and industry groups in an effort to broaden the understanding of the challenges that can be encountered, and benefits that can be derived from these technologies.

Mark Newland started with the Indiana Department of Transportation in 1984 as a Transportation Planner. In 1989 he moved to the Department's Policy & Budget Division to serve as a Policy Analyst focusing on fiscal impacts of existing and proposed legislation. In 1995 he was asked to create the Department's Project Management Section under the Office of the Chief Engineer where he served as the Manager. In 2000 he became the Department's Intelligent Transportation Systems Program Director in the Operations Support Division. Most recently he was promoted to Deputy Commissioner to lead the new Traffic Management Business Unit at INDOT.

Mark holds a Bachelor of Science in Business (Marketing/Transportation) from the Indiana University School of Business and a Master of Public Affairs from the Indiana University School of Public & Environmental Affairs. He is a member of the Indiana Section of Institute of Transportation Engineers, ITS Midwest, and ITS America.

I'd like to go over a few logistical details prior to starting the seminar. Today's seminar will last 90 minutes, with 60 minutes allocated for the speakers, and the final 30 minutes for audience Question and Answer. The Operator will give you instructions on how to ask a question over the phone during the Q&A period. However, if during the presentations you think of a question, you can type it into the smaller text box underneath the chat area on the lower right side of your screen. Please make sure you are typing in the thin text box and not the large white area. Presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but I will use some of the questions typed into the chat box to start off the question and answer session in the last half hour of the seminar. Those questions that are not answered will be posted to the Freight Planning LISTSERV. The LISTSERV is an email list and is a great forum for the distribution of information and a place where you can post questions to find out what other subscribers have learned in the area of Freight Planning. If you have not already joined the LISTSERV, the web address at which you can register is provided on the slide on your screen.

Finally, I would like to remind you that this session is being recorded. A file containing the audio and the visual portion of this seminar will be posted to the Talking Freight Web site within the next week. Due to the size of the file, recorded files are available for viewing/listening purposes only and cannot be saved to your own computer. We encourage you to direct others in your office that may have not been able to attend this seminar to access the recorded seminar.

The PowerPoint presentations used during the seminar will also be available within the next week. I will notify all attendees of the availability of the PowerPoints, the recording, and a transcript of this seminar.

Typically what we do now is wait a few minutes and then start the seminar to give others a chance to join us. We do have quite a few people joined on so I think we're just going to get started with the first presentation. Our first presentation of today is from Bob Davis of the Federal Highway Administration. Again, for those of you who just joined us the topic is Commercial Vehicle Size & Weight: Issues and Innovative Enforcement Ideas. If you think of questions during this presentation or any of the other presentations please type them into the chat area on the screen and then we'll address questions in the last 30 minutes of the seminar. So, Bob, when you're ready, you can go ahead.

Bob Davis:

Well, thanks, Jen. This is Bob Davis in Washington. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to be here today to talk a little bit about some of the legislation that we've all had to face in the last months. And I'll give an introduction to the folks who are going to talk more about virtual weight issues.

Let me first say that the legislation this year that came out of Congress -- by and large, we were not aware it was coming. Coming out of the Act that was enacted in August and also the Energy Act of this past year were four issues; four requirements affecting size and weight. I hesitate to say which one of these is the most controversial, but you can decide and we'll talk about it later. But under SAFETEA-LU, we have saddlemount operations. (I'll give you a picture in a minute.) These were increased from a total length of 75 feet to 95 feet on the national network. Interestingly, this provision from Congress preempted any existing state law on the length of these kinds of operations. SAFETEA-LU also gave states the option to waive for buses enforcement of the weight standard that is now imposed on all commercial vehicles. Again, it was an option. There was no preemption in this. (This has been an issue for years. So, this one we did have an inkling that we might come through the legislation.) Specifically, for the state of Nebraska. there was a provision that allowed longer length for what are known as custom harvesters. And finally, out of the Energy Act of 2005, states were given the option to allow, for those vehicles that have them, a 400-pound weight tolerance for on- board auxiliary power units.

Okay. Now we mentioned the first thing from SAFETEA-LU was the saddlemount combination. A lot of you may not deal with these every day, so let me just put this picture up. Here we have an example of a cab forward pulling three truck tractors. Then, on the back tractor, there is a wagon that is full mounted. It is completely off the ground. What you see is the graphic representation coming out of our size regulation. You'll notice that it says the minimum overall length states have to require is 75 feet. Again the provision is now 97 feet. Specifically, 4141 of the law says that the states will now have to allow, on the national network of highways, a combination vehicle up to 97 feet.

This provision came out of the blue. We did not know it was coming. I would say by way of background we had received, over the past five years, 2 requests from the organizations dealing with this to extend the length of the saddlemount combination. Both of these were denied by Washington for various reasons, so apparently the interest went to Congress and had this added to SAFETEA-LU. Unique to this provision is the preemption of state law. Regardless of what the state law now says, the states have to honor the 97-foot length, regardless of whether your legislature is going to meet in April or in a year or whenever. There is another issue. The way the language reads, it says the 97 foot shall be allowed for combinations with full mount. Remember that little vehicle on the back of the picture. We think the intention is that all combination vehicles moving in saddlemount were to be given the 97-foot provision. However, the way the law is written now, the state would only have to honor a 97-foot combination with the full mount attached. We would not take issue with the state that gave every combination 97 feet. So this is where it is. We are trying to work with the congressional folks to get this issue resolved. Also, we've heard from a number of states that they have concerns about the 97-foot length and its ability to negotiate some of their national network roadways. These concerns we need to deal with.

Also in the SAFETEA-LU law was a provision that gave states the option to not impose federal weight requirements on bus axles until October 1 of 2009. By way of historical review, in 1991, in the first law which I guess most of you are familiar with, the ISTEA, the Congress said that transit buses would have a three-year option of not being penalized if their axle weight exceeded the standard. This has been has been restated again and again; also, in the 2003 appropriation act that same option for an exemption was added overtheroad buses. What came out of SAFETEA-LU was the fact that transit and over the road buses both would be in the position to receive this waiver again until October of 2009.

Again it is a state option. We would not penalize states for failure to enforce. Under U.S. code section 127a, states normally risked the loss of funds if they do not enforce axle weights. Here they would be exempted. There is another issue that has come up more recently since SAFETEA-LU where the House of Representatives has talked about certain states which previously allowed exemptions up to 24,000 pounds being documented. These states could not deny a bus that kind of exemption on a single axle. In other words, what was traditionally a 20 thousand pound limit would have to allow up to 24 thousand pounds. We are supposed to catalog those states. This is a pending action.

I mentioned the Nebraska provision simply because section 4112 of SAFETEA-LU gave Nebraska the option to run longer two-trailered vehicles when these are used to haul custom harvesters. Now, what makes this noteworthy is this is an amendment by Congress to the longer combination vehicle standards that were frozen in 1991. Congress has been very reluctant to revisit the longer combination vehicle provisions but here we have an example of a limited operation in a single State where a vehicle over 80,000 pounds was granted an extention of its length. So that's why I put it on here.

Finally, in the Energy Act, aimed basically at the Environmental Protection Agency, there was a provision enacted which said that if a vehicle were equipped with an on-board auxiliary power to run heat, air conditioning, phone, what have you, that that vehicle could be allowed a 400-pound tolerance over the axle and gross vehicle weights established for the Interstate System. What we find is, increasingly, there is a movement to eliminate idling by diesels at rest stops and other locations where a driver is sleeping overnight. In order to be comfortable, he has to keep his engine idling to run his air conditioning and heating. This provision tries to foster the addition of the on-board auxiliary power units as a way of kind of pushing the initiative to get away from unwarranted idling. I think some of you are aware that there are a number of activities going on, offvehicle, at privately owned truck stops to provide the same kind of services so the vehicles should be turned off.

In the case of an onboard auxiliary power unit, it's left in the legislation for the driver to prove to the enforcement official if, let's say, he wants to get this 400 pound tolerance that he has auxiliary power and that it is certified. We're not sure who the certifier is going to be, whether it's the state agency or some other service like the manufacturer of the APU. All the driver has to demonstrate to the enforcement officer is that the unit in fact produces cold air or warm air. As this is another case of states being allowed an option to grant a weight tolerance, we do not know if any states are going resist allowing it. We have not heard enough to know.

Let me shift gears for a minute. Having talked about legislation, let's now offer a segue to what is the main topic of this conversation today, and that is the innovative technology of virtual weigh stations. With the expansion of commercial vehicle operations around the country, along with the limited resources that are being applied for size and weight enforcement, we are compelled to look at alternatives that can help the states with these limited resources do a better job of enforcing. One that has come up in about the last three years, although also I understand some places have been using it longer, is the idea of the virtual weigh station. And we have two other presenters here who will elaborate on the technology and their current experience. But let me just say that this technology, to me, offers an enormous possibility to take and expand enforcement activities while even cutting back on some of the persons involved.

But for those of you who haven't dealt with it, what is a virtual weigh station? I take it most of you in the audience are familiar with weighinmotion. In the road you get a profile of the commercial vehicle as it goes by at highway speed. And this is used to screen vehicles for subsequent weight, usually at a permanent weigh station just down the road. What you do with virtual weigh stations is that you add to that site either a camera taking a picture of the vehicle or you have a transponder receiver or some other device that is added to the process. What you're doing is giving enforcement an opportunity to, let's say, get a picture of a specific vehicle. And this may be connected anywhere in the state by wire or can be wireless. You could conceivably centralize your enforcement operation and have police cars stationed at a convenient location. When a truck passesby the virtual weigh station facility, you immediately have some kind of -- not only profile of the vehicle on the road -- but also a picture that can be used for that enforcing official to use in pinpointing the vehicle to pull it.

Where VWS really pays off is in an urban environment where you cannot generally build a weigh station and cannot stop trucks without blocking traffic. So what you can do is highlight the overweight vehicle to an enforcement officer who is in some sort of potential facility that gets the truck off the road and out of the way so it can be weighed in an urban area. I know Hawaii is looking for it because in Hawaii there is very little opportunity on the urban interstate to get off without blocking the roadway. The District of Columbia is looking at this idea. Finally based upon conversations we've had with the Transportation Security Administration, I would say also that there are opportunities in getting this picture of the vehicle or getting a transponder reading to identify a vehicle that perhaps should be there. Has it been stolen or might it pose a threat?

So with that, let's find out what's the latest with vehicle size and weight.

J. Seplow:

Thank you, Bob. We do have one question in there. We'll get to that after all three presentations. Again, if you do have questions, please go ahead and type them into the chat area. One thing I didn't mention before was, if you do type a question in, please make sure you send it to all participants so that everybody can see your question. Our next presenter is going to be Tom Bold of the North Dakota Department of Transportation. Tom, I'm just getting you set up and you should be ready to go. Okay, Tom. You can begin when you're ready.

Tom Bold:

Okay. Thank you, Jennifer. This is Tom Bold, North Dakota Department of Transportation. I'm talking to you from Bismarck, North Dakota. Good morning to some and good afternoon to others. I'd like to thank Jennifer for her introduction and for the Federal Highway for providing this opportunity to talk about our Technology Implementation Group that's focusing on weigh  in motion and virtual weigh in motion technologies. Thank you, Bob, for your introductory slides because they fit right in to what I want to talk about. I know that they will serve as a good lead into what Mark is bringing today also. This forum to us is exactly the type of forum that we would like to use in our project to kind of spread the word as the work on the project progresses. We were asked to come to participate, to give you some kind of picture of what our project is and maybe how it was developed and what we hope to achieve. We'd certainly like to have the opportunity to come back and share more information in the future as work on our project progresses.

To begin, though, most of you are probably familiar with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. But many of you may or may not be aware of the Technology Implementation Group and for purposes of saving time as with that long name, I'm going refer to it as TIG. The TIG serves as a subgroup under the AASHTO umbrella. Before I talk about our project, I'd just like to give you a brief overview of the some of the visions, the mission, and strategic goals of the TIG as they relate to our project here. The Technology Implementation Group in its vision statement seeks to culture where rapid advancement and implementation of high payoff innovative technologies is the expectation of the transportation community. In fulfilling that mission and its vision, its mission and purpose is to identify and champion the deployment and implementation of a select few ready to use technologies, products, and processes that are likely to yield significant economic and qualitative benefits in the transportation community. I'd like to note the emphasis is being placed on ready to use. It's not the TIG's mission to develop new technologies. Their focus is to promote proven technologies that may not have reached general acceptance by the transportation community or maybe late in implementation due to a lack of understanding or experience by its member agencies. In looking at its strategic goals, it strives to identify ready to implement transportation technologies and based on available funding they try to select three to four high pay off focus technologies annually. Knowing that the decision to implement a new technology is often made at high levels, they work to provide top management support for implementation. Recognizing that there are often several unconnected agencies working with new technologies, their efforts are made to identify focus technology champions. Because they recognize that obstacles and challenges can delay implementation, the TIG encourages short-term projects. They want to formulate approaches for rapid development and finally, recognizing that more could be gained by working together and sharing information, the TIG looks for ways to create partnerships and encourage communication. Over the years I guess there have been a variety of technologies that have been recognized as focus technology projects by the TIG. You can get more information and more detailed discussion of those technologies if you'd like to visit the TIG website. I'll provide you with a website address in my final slides.

Let's talk about our project. We have to start with a little background. Now that you've got a brief understanding of the TIG's role, I'd like to provide you with some of the project background information that may help you understand some of the forces that help create the weigh in motion project and particularly the North Dakota DOT's motivation to recommend this as a focus technology. In 2003 the North Dakota state legislative session budget process challenged the North Dakota DOT and North Dakota Highway Patrol to reduce their costs associated with permanently staffed weigh stations. That mandate required a conceptual change in truck weight enforcement by moving away from fixed scale concepts to a more mobile weight enforcement unit. This was accomplished by installing a total of 12 weigh in motion sites in 2003 and 2004 throughout the state on both state, interstate and non-interstate highways. These sites now record traffic, truck volumes and weight and provide 24-hour seven day a week information on truck traffic. Additionally the North Dakota Highway Patrol has equipped 36 cruisers with wireless communication packages linking them to the websites. This goes along with part of what Bob's final slides were talking about, the advantages of data collection at a distance. In its proposal to the TIG, the North Dakota DOT saw that its success in using a multi-agency approach to weight size enforcement using wireless technology might be beneficial for other states and other agencies to use. So based on that, the DOT looked at the advantages that they gained from this technology to reduce their operational costs while increasing the tons of data they collected and improving efficiency of managing equipment and human resources. But perhaps one of the greatest benefits derived from these changes in the operations is improvement in the area safety for the enforcement officers and the traveling public. The North Dakota DOT considered this as an experience worth sharing; the TIG agreed, and designated weigh in motion and virtual weigh stations as technologies ready for implementation and thus that created the whole technology project for WIM and virtual WIM technology.

As you saw in a previous slide one of TIG's strategic goals is the identification of focus technology champions. As the proposer of the project the DOT assumed the responsibility to identify and organize a Lead States Technical Panel. The Panel was to consist of states that were using similar or more advanced technologies and were interested in participating as active members. Currently the Technical Panel members include myself, with the support of several others in the North Dakota DOT and North Dakota Highway Patrol, Randy Wooly from California DOT, Craig Wilson from the Florida DOT, Mark Newland from the Indiana DOT and Tony Rivera from the Nevada DOT. The initial meeting of our Technical Panel was held in August of 2005. At that meeting we organized the project,  developed a work plan and a budget, and discussed the objectives of the project. The primary objective of the project and of the Technical Panel at this point was to develop a message promoting weigh in motion and virtual weigh in motion technologies. Considering how to best promote the technologies, the Technical Panel recognized early on in our discussions that the term “virtual” does not carry a universally accepted definition as it relates to weigh in motion. As Bob pointed out, to some people, it means the use of video cameras to capture images. To others it may include the use of transponders or vehicle identification; and so to promote the technology, the technical panel chose to consider virtual from a more generic perspective as being “data collection from a distance”. The technical panel all recognized that a significant component of the promotional message was to relate the challenges, successes and implementation experiences in the areas of site selection,  procurement, installation, data retention, operation and maintenance. So in our earlier discussions the Technical Panel recognized the importance of a concerted effort to identify agencies using virtual technologies. Agencies that we possibly missed in our initial discussions.

To be of the most benefit the panel also found that the project needed to include those agencies, and most importantly their experiences, as we developed the promotional message that we hopefully could use to provide guidance and support to the other agencies. Ones wanting to enter this virtual WIM arena. To accomplish this, a follow up survey, which was given to the AASHTO Research Advisory Committee (RAC) Members in the United States and Canada. They were asked to respond to a series of questions to determine the extent of the WIM and/or virtual WIM technologies that they were using in the areas of weight and size enforcement, credential checking and safety compliance. Based on their responses, a follow up survey is being conducted to gather more detailed information and hopefully elaborate on the positive responses received in the initial survey. The Panel feels like the information gathered from the surveys and phone interviews is a critical component. We continue with the tabulation of the results from the survey. We are completing that now and the Panel is beginning work on development of presentation materials.

As the project information comes together and the project continues its work, the TIG website will probably be one of the best sources of information on our project. The presentation for the project organizational meeting, the project work plan, the survey results and the future presentation schedules are now or soon will be part of that website. It will be available for your viewing. When completed the Technical Panel anticipates taking the presentation materials that will promote the WIM and virtual WIM technologies to several other forums. Right now we've targeted TRB, AASHTO national and regional meetings, agency and industry transportation associations, and we certainly appreciate the opportunity to address groups like this in the future. The scope of our project is constrained by funding limits. The opportunity to address national and regional transportation groups in this type of forum allows us some control over project costs and actually gives us an increased range of the audience that we are able to contact.

Well, hopefully I have accomplished what I have been asked to do, I have helped you become more familiar with the TIG and its support of the ready to use technologies. Hopefully, I have tried to provide you with some of the background history of our project and given you the intended objectives and outcomes of the project. I have introduced you to the participating members of the Lead States Technical Panel and identified some of the forums where we will be delivering our promotional message. As I close, again, I'd like to thank Jennifer and Federal Highway for making this opportunity available to discuss the TIG virtual weigh in motion technology project. We'd like to invite you also to take a look at progress in the work in our project and look at all the other TIG focus technology projects that have been completed in the past at the TIG website there on the screen ( Thank you. That completes my presentation.

J. Seplow:

Thank you, Tom. That was a great presentation. If anybody does have questions for Tom, please go ahead and type them into the chat area and send them to all participants. We're now going to move on to our final presentation of the day of Mark Newland from the Indiana Department of Transportation. Mark, if you just give me a minute to get you set up. Actually looks like you're ready to go. Mark, when you're ready, you can get started.

Mark Newland:

Thanks, Jennifer. Thank you all for allowing me to present today. I'm in Indianapolis. We have been working very hard on this. I'm glad to be able to talk to you about this and show what we've experienced here. I'd also like to thank Dr. Darcy Bullet who's been a partner with NDDOT on this technology. Darcy helped me put this presentation together. Basically where we're coming from is what our problem statement is basically a weigh station that does not appear to be effective in enforcing truck weight loss. I'll get into that later in my presentation. Our objectives and I came up with two objectives I think was -- number one was utilize high tech equipment and communications to more effectively monitor truck traffic with the goal to increase truck weight compliance. Our goal is not to write more tickets. Our goal is to have trucks be with them. The second objective is for those trucks that are running overweight to significantly increase the hit rate, if you will, for motor carrier inspectors. By that I mean more use of resources, specifically scarce human resources as our state police, they are under the funding gun like everybody else. So it's been difficult for them to keep motor carriers on.

This next slide is a enhancement model. I'm not sure if Purdue made this. It's a nonlinear curve that shows the weight of the image. As some of you may know, equivalent single axle loads and normally a truck weighing 80 thousand pounds which is a standard weight for most is equivalent of 25 thousand cars. Now, if you just add 20,000 pounds on to that, that's a 25% increase in weight but 160% increase in damage to the pavement. Goes from 2.44 to 6.33 ESALs. And if you go heavier obviously there's going to be more and more damage as you move along. This is a good way to visualize the kind of damage that an overweigh truck will do to pavement on reducing pavement life. This is a graph developed by Dr. Bullet. Basically what you have is, if you look at that horizontal line in the middle the dash line for 120 million ESALs. If we design a road for 12 million ESALs and we include legal trucks in that design, we estimate that pavement would last approximately 40 years. If you go back on that line to where the line intercepts with the overweight truck curve, you can see based on what we know on I 8094 based on actual statistics, collecting outside Chicago and northwest Indiana. We're showing that pavement was dropping for 40 years down to little over 28 years. I think around 27, 28% decrease in pavement life. I want to reiterate this is on actual WIM readings that we are taking on I 80/94 in northwest Indiana.

Weigh station, this is a picture of a static weigh station. There are some states that have weigh stations on noninterstate routes. Chicago on U.S. 30 as you enter Illinois a couple miles into Illinois there's a weigh station for truck traffic on U.S. 30. It's not as significant as this, but there are weigh station on other routes. Basically, this green vehicle is entering the station for weight and equipment violations. We asked Purdue to do a study. Basically, what they did, they studied -- collected data from all our active weigh stations at the time. We now have nine weigh stations. One of them is on I 70 near the Illinois state line. It was not active when the study was undertaken. What Purdue did, they looked at statistics from August and September in 2003 and what you see in front of you shows it was open a total of 3680 hours. The violations were in excess of 85,000 pounds. Want to reiterate 85 not between 80 and 85. We caught 14 trucks in two months over 85,000 pounds. That's one truck every 268 hours. That's like the equivalent of one truck every 11 days. The weight violations, this next slide shows that the weight violations are only 25, 30% of the activity. And basically what this shows is they do other things at weigh stations besides check for weight. There's driver licensing, equipment checks and weight checks. Now, down at the bottom -- this graph is based on the actual statistics from that study. Now, there are certain violation codes down at the bottom. I'm going go ahead to the next slide. For those who want to download this later on, these are the code violations at least for the overweight codes. Doesn't include all the other ones. Basically going back. Like, say, code 12, if you will, that's the highest one. That was for overweight drive tandem combination. Code 15 as you can see on the slide was much less than that, is the one for overweight gross vehicle weight. Basically what that is showing is that the distribution of the kind of things that they're checking and the kind of overweight violations that were being decided at this weigh station. Again, for this study, again, there were 14 trucks over 85,000 pounds. The heaviest truck that was caught was 94,220 pounds. Now, that's kind of significant in that over a two-month period, there are weigh stations. It is a 94,000 pound truck. We know for a fact that there's a lot heavier trucks rolling onto highways. They obviously are able to either avoid the weigh stations or just not catch them somehow. Our weigh stations are not open 24/7. That's part of the resource problem. The odds are that these trucks that were caught were probably caught after the weigh station was open before word got out. Word travels quickly.

Overweight truck problems, let's give you an idea, going back to I 80/94. This is a 16-mile stretch of highway on the southern tip of Lake Michigan. It is heavily traveled. Truck traffic you have I 80, I 90, I 94 all coming around Lake Michigan there. And there's a lot of manufacturing traffic coming from Canada, Detroit, heading to points west and vice versa coming out of Chicago into points east. Eight-lane highway. There's traffic. We have wims installed in the pavement. Now, this is based on actual statistics. We have generally around 28,000 trucks every single day. In general based on statistics, the 37 of those trucks are over 95,000 pounds and seven are over 100,000 pounds. To go back to our study, just in one day, we've got to do the math, 44 trucks over 90 thousand pounds every single day on the expressway that roar past weigh stations over that two months the station only caught 14 trucks over 85 thousand pounds. Just to highlight that there is a truck weight problem out there. And that this basically shows that the studies show that the weigh stations were not really effective for identifying weight violations. You could ask similar questions for -- if there's a problem with a weigh station catching weight violators, are they -- is it efficient for catching equipment for driver or licensing type violations?

Now, to give you an idea how we've developed this. Basically, we use existing WIM infrastructure to screen for overweights. When we put this project together at the time, we were spending about 2,000 to 5 thousand per site. We only did a couple of these sites. Roughly, we were talking 2 to 5,000 for the equipment at the site and then another 1500 dollars to outfit the law enforcement vehicle. We also tried to dedicate inspection. I'll touch on that just a little bit later. But this next slide is just an animation of how this works. It's pretty effective, basically. A truck rolls across the loops, classified truck rolls across the wims and information gets fed to the cabin which goes to the transmitter which goes out to the vehicle. Then the police car sitting there and can go chase down that vehicle. Now, that's a scenario where the police vehicle was sitting within visual sight of that -- of the WIM. This is the kind of equipment that we used just about any place as cars now have lap tops. That comes standard with any police car. And this is the kind of equipment that we were playing with at that time. This could all be stuffed out now into a vehicle as it's being ordered. Basically, it's just got the radio communications and the laptop and the radio talks to the transmitter from the WIM site and relays that information to the motor carrier inspector in their vehicle. This is a snap shot of basically what our vision is for what we'd eventually like to see. This is an actual reading that stone carrier truck right there actually weighed 124,000 pounds. This is on a WIM at I 65 just south of the expressway on I 65 southbound. That truck weighed 124,000 pounds. Basically what we would like to do somehow from a video standpoint capture that. Frankly, motor carrier inspectors could sit in a warm covert or hidden location so as to make it more uncertain to trucks running overweight so that they don't know whether it's being monitored or not. This layout here was developed by Purdue and there's probably similar layouts in other states. Basically it gives you the actual weights and the last few trucks that have gone over it. But eventually what we would like to do is see this kind of our prototype. When we first did this, this is in 2000. First pilot run was on I 65 near La Fayette, Indiana, that's where Purdue is located. Basically, it was set up. There's a WIM on I 65. We had people sitting next to the cabinet up on a hill observing as trucks went by, they would radio to the state police downstream and so this is the first truck that was caught. As you can see, the truck -- the WIM reading was 112 thousand pounds. Portable scale weighed 134 thousand pounds. Wim was pretty close. Legal weight was 73 thousand pounds. About 38 thousand pounds overweight. It was carrying two coils of steel, old steel that were not tied down properly. Basically, the state police at the time said if that truck had to stop suddenly those coils the way they were secured or not secured would have easily come off that truck. It was a covered wagon. You really can't tell. Motor carrier inspector might look at that and not be sure. With a virtual WIM, you got a much better chance of identifying that truck and saying, yeah, I'm going to go after that guy. Whereas before somebody might have saw that and said it's pretty innocuous.

What I'm going to show you here is an example of what we set up. This is on U.S. 24. There's a lot of truck traffic on U.S. 24 between Toledo and Fort Wayne. Trucks will come from Toledo, go down 24 to I 69 and then to points south in the country or vice versa. Now, what we were able to do here and we were pretty fortunate here. This is a rest area on U.S. 24. There was a contract to upgrade that rest area. We heard about it. We said let's let the WIM installation into the contract so that WIM was installed there on U.S. 24 along with the cabinet. It's really provides a great place for the motor carrier inspectors to sit off the side of the road and observe what's going on. It really works out very nice. This is an ideal situation, if it could be set up that way. This is a picture of the equipment that was installed. You see the antenna on the mounted pole that's next to the cabinet. Then the equipment inside the cabinet and again all this was specked out and put in, installed as part of the contract. Again, it made it pretty easy identifying an existing contract. We try to identify any interstate jobs or resurface jobs. It's pretty cost effective that way. Now, this is an inspection site about two miles downstream of that WIM site that I was just showing you. This inspection site -- we think that this is very, very important to making virtual weigh station work well, is to have a place where the motor carrier inspector can chase the truck down and pull them over and weigh them safely. Now, you can see from the cross section on down in the picture, U.S. 24 doesn't have a whole lot of place to pull over. Doesn't have a whole lot of shoulder space. Fortunately, we had the right of way in this area. We all worked this into a contract. It was a small resurfacing contract. It was really relatively inexpensive to build. We don't have standards for this type of a pulloff area developed. But this is something we envisioned to the degree possible being part of all of our virtual weigh station deployments. So the motor carrier pulls the truck over. This is about two miles downstream. Police told us that they felt that was enough time to chase the truck down. And then the truck again can be weighed safely on certified portable scales from which they can write tickets. They cannot write tickets directly from WIM weights.

Basically, from my observation, weigh stations in our opinion do not appear to be effective. Overweight vehicles are going to continue to be a problem. Commercial vehicles, the number of vehicles is going to continue to grow. They are of significant concern from an infrastructure life expectancy. I go back to safety from that one picture we showed you with the rolled coils of steel not being tied down correctly. Static weigh stations are more successful on inspection activities. Wims will be placed not on main lines but all bypass stations. The work that Purdue has done, they estimate the virtual weigh station program could be up to 55 times more effective in weight enforcement than static weigh stations. Again, our view here is to increase the risk to illegal trucks. It is not to increase the number of tickets written. And also part of our process that we're trying to address here is in Indiana anyways, the county in which the tickets are written, that is the court in which the ticket is adjudicated. What we need to do here, state police back us up on this, we need to develop a centralized court system where there's a more effective way of adjudicating overweight across the state because one county may charge different findings for different weights. We're trying to get a centralized process here. We have a retired judge we're working with to help us get this done. It's going to take a while but eventually we'll take legislative action. State police are short on man power. This was alluded to earlier. We can use this technology to make up for man power shortage which is more cost effective weight enforcement. Again, we want to significantly increase risk to illegal trucks which lead to increased weight compliance with leads to increased infrastructure, which leads to reduced highway maintenance and leads to lower costs to all customers. At least that's our theory on this.

And finally, this is my last slide of the future virtual weigh station in Indiana. Freight issues, our commissioner who been here about a year now under Governor Daniels. He has made freight issues a major focus. He's felt that NDDOT has been negligent in the past on working with freight issues and working with our freight customers. This is something that we've needed for years but we just didn't have the opportunity to do. We now have that in place. The person who is filling that position, he just started last week. Formerly a Captain with the Indiana State Police Commercial Enforcement Division. We were very lucky to have him. We can now start to begin to really aggressively address this problem. And we're all working closely with the trucking industry. The Indiana Motor Trucking Association generally supports virtual weigh stations. Their view is that it levels the playing field and that the illegal guys are undercutting the guys who choose to play by the rules. So if we can increase the risk to illegal trucks, hopefully, that will share the wealth if you will and provide more work for everyone. They are very close partners with us. We've had a really good partnership. We hope to continue that. Basically that's my presentation, Jennifer, I'll turn back over to you.

J. Seplow:

Thank you Mark. I hope everybody found all three of these presentations interesting. We'll go ahead and start off the question and answer session with a question that has been posted online. If you do continue to think of questions please post them or if you want to wait through the ones that have been typed in, we'll open up the phone lines for questions.

I don't see any questions for Mark, so I'll go ahead to questions on Tom's presentation. Tom, we do have a question typed in for you. The question is Tom, I was wondering if by-pass routes where outlined in your technology and how non-standard hours of overweight vehicles are handled?

T. Bold:

Okay. I think if we focus on the technology that we see being used today and virtual weigh in motion, in most cases weigh in motion today is a permanent installation and the virtual technology allows us to collect data at a distance again. Relating to bypass routes, I'm not aware of the technology being used in a portable environment from a virtual standpoint. I know portable weigh in motion technology is available and in use in some states. In fact Nevada is one of those states. They're part of our TIG group. The discussion of how they incorporate their portable weigh station into their program is going to be part of our presentation material. As far as the question for how nonstandard hours for overweight vehicles are handled, in North Dakota we still use the weigh in motion sites with enforcement officers manning the sites from a virtual standpoint. But, you know, the nice thing about the weigh in motion sites is that it gives you an opportunity to collect data even when there's not an officer present. So based on the records and review of the data that's being collected 24 hours, seven days a week, I could foresee the day coming when modifications for enforcement activities are made based on the data that we've collected.

M. Newland:

This is Mark Newland. I agree with you. This is the same kind of thing that we were starting to do. Download data from our wims that are out there. We start collecting data and start making determinations. When do we think we're going to have the most success, if you will, in catching trucks. There may be times -- certain days of the week. Tom's right. You can download that data and do some data mining and help you work more effectively that way.

T. Bold:

Say, Mark, I guess I liked to turn that first part of that question back to you and ask the question, bypass routes were outlined in the technology? How are you guys addressing bypass routes?

M. Newland:

That's a major part of what we got to do. We had discussions with state police about our weigh stations as we know them or is there still a place for them. I think everyone thinks there are a place for weigh stations and a role for them to play and weighing trucks is going to be one of them. When the weigh stations are open, it's no secret to the truckers out there, they know when they're open. We know for a fact there are bypass routes around most but not all of the weigh stations. But generally a truck's going to be able to find a way around. What our goal is to instrument those bypass routes and then monitor them. We could set a system up where when a weigh station is open, okay, we have a pretty good idea that trucks are going to start bypassing so you start monitoring those bypass routes. Or if it's just a route. The bottom line is that the trucks are getting around the system, the object is to say, no, you're not going get around the system. We are now monitoring these bypass routes and we'll nail you if you come around. Now the captain would say you're probably going to chase the problem. Word will get out that okay this route's being monitored and he's been out in the field for 20 years and he would tell you that they'll even just park and wait for the weigh station to close or maybe they'll find another way -- they'll go way out of their way. The point is that the bypass routes are an integral part of our strategy. What we need to do, the biggest thing we need to do right now is to -- and this is part of why we hired guy to come in, to sit down and identify a strategically put together a plan to deploy wims on these bypass routes. Biggest question for us is what kind of WIM do we want to put out? Do we want to put an IRD load cell out there or do we want to go more low-cost and do maybe a PA. Then as part of that, you have to have, is the pavement in good condition? If the pave% is not in good condition you're not going get good weights. Is so what do we need to do if we are going to install WIM? Do we have to let a contractor that does 300, 400, 500 feet of concrete installation prior to the WIM or is the pavement good enough shape? These are all issues that we're still dealing with. As far as interstates we are putting wims in interstates. We can start using those almost immediately. We are screening -- these have to be a screening device. Our commissioner was wanting to try to set it up, get the legislature to pass law that would allow us to take it directly from wims. We're just not there yet. And that didn't go over very well. So -- as a screening tool, they're very effective. Just getting it set up correctly. Kind of long winded answer, but yes. Bottom line is bypass routes are very important to us.

T. Bold:

If I could -- this is Tom again. If I could add one more piece to that and thanks for bringing some of those subjects up there Mark. I think what Mark has just talked about was Indiana's experience. I think that's why they're participating with us. Our focus in the end is to try to gather not just Indiana's experience but as many experiences across the country as we can and make that available to answer questions like have been raised in this webinar here. So thanks again Mark.

J. Seplow:

Thanks to both of you. We're going jump ahead now -- or jump back. There's some questions for Mark that have come in. I'm going ask you those. First one, what WIM technology are you using at your virtual weigh stations? Is there a particular vendor you've been working with for these installations? Do you have any information on the additional cost to add video to these locations?

M. Newland:

I'll address the last part first. As far as additional cost for video, we're just not that sophisticated yet. We were doing -- we have a site down here Cincinnati in southeast Indiana. It's on a bypass route, a bypass route from I-74. And we were working with Mettler Toledo on this research. We have a camera set up there. It's still kind of R & D right now. And we're playing around with what kind of images can we capture. Do we go after USDOT numbers or do we capture the whole truck? This is on a two-lane highway. Trying to capture trucks from a video standpoint on a multilane freeway is a lot more problematic. That has -- there still has to be a significant amount of work done on that. What kind of technology are we using? Generally, we have IRD load cells pretty much deployed on the interstate system. Again, as far as our bypass routes, we haven't gotten to the point of what kind of technology do we want to put out there. Again, part of it's going to relate to cost. A load cell or vending type technology is going to be a lot more capital intensive as opposed to -- so you have to do an analysis. Right now our main technology is IRD load cell wims. I hope I answered the question.

J. Seplow:

Yes. Thank you. The next question is, is the preferred method for the Indiana highway patrol to dedicate officers to the size and weight enforcement or is it part of all officers, duties?

M. Newland:

That's a good question. Generally, Indiana State Police has a commercial vehicle enforcement division. That's their job is to do commercial vehicle weight enforcement. Generally your regular troopers, although they can stop trucks and they do stop trucks on occasion, they don't carry portable scales. They don't have the equipment the motor carrier inspectors have. Motor carrier inspectors, they are employees of the State Police but they are not police officers per say. They are an enforcement division. Their job is to go out and weigh them. Regular state police officers obviously salt trucks but they're more concerned with catching bad guys. Their focus isn't toward truck weight enforcement. I hope I answer your question again.

J. Seplow:

Yes, I think you did. I'm now going to go to Bob Davis. We have some questions for you that have come in. Bob, the first one I believe would be directed to you is what is the percentage of trucks out on the road today that are considered overweight?

B. Davis:

I have heard all kinds of different figures. If you go by the figures obtained at the commercial weigh stations which was part of the other presentation, it is well below 1%. That is the permanent static station. If you get into portable weighs, I think the figure rises toward 10%. But I have no really reliable figure to offer you. I think the comment made that it's worth revisiting the use of permanent weigh stations if your citation level is well below 1% is valid. And I know several states are looking at options portable either with a WIM first or without. I hope this answers your question.

J. Seplow:

The next question is, will the 81 feet for overall length on combinations extend to border states ?

B. Davis:

My understanding is this is only allowed in Nebraska. If you recall, legislation in 1991 when the combination vehicles, those with two or more trailers weighing over 80,000 pounds were frozen, each state had to come back and indicate what as of June 1991 was an actual regular service in your state. These were documented in the regulations. Are now part of a pending 23cfr2658 federal regulations on size and weight. This change again is strictly for Nebraska. It will not affect any other states.

J. Seplow:

Okay. Next question is regarding the additional 400 pounds for the idle reduction technology, how will the axle weights be determined?

B. Davis:

That's a very good question. We are all looking at that. I don't think there's any guidance in the provision that tells us how to use it. It will probably affect the power tandem axles on the tractor. What we're going to be doing with this and other provisions you are going to be seeing a notice coming out later in the spring that will address how we think something like this might be done. We'll be asking about public comments. All of you are welcome to respond to that notice. We will make an announcement in our news letter to the effect that the notice is out there and want your comment. We don't have a much better -- my assumption is that the APU would be mounted on the tractor probably on the back of the cab of a sleeper which would tend to put most of the weight on tandem axle or the power axle. But we just don't know. So we're still in a developmental stage there.

J. Seplow:

The next question, I think Mark and Tom addressed this a little bit but, Bob, I'll ask it to you and see your thought. The question is, I understand the ASTM standards for our Oregon WIM technology is 6% for gross and 10% for axle weights. Under FHWA and State laws and regulations, we can only use the system for screening. Are other States going to have the same concerns about WIM accuracy that I have for "enforcement"?

B. Davis:

Again, WIM is usually used and acceptable in court only as a screening device. I'm not aware of any state that has taken to court a WIM reading and tried to get enforcement. I think I heard someone say Utah. One of the reasons that this office is participating with a scan of European size and weight procedures and technologies this summer is to see one question would be to see how is WIM used in Europe. Under their legal system, is it being used to cite vehicles? And is it because of the technological differences we have here? So normally WIM is strictly for screening. I think that's what most states are using it for now, unless somebody else is aware of the difference.

M. Newland:

If I could jump in real quick. This is Mark again. When our commissioner said we should try to go that route, I sat down with one of our attorneys who was quite experienced in dealing with these things. She said we would get murdered in court if we tried to do that. So we're just not ready to do that yet.

T. Bold:

This is Tom. From a standpoint of our survey and responses of states, that was one of the focus questions that we asked. And although we did not get 100% response from all states, and provinces, those responding indicate that they are basically using it in a screening mode.

J. Seplow:

Okay. Thank you. Bob, another question for you. The Energy Act contained a provision for the enactment of the 400 pound increase 180 days from the passage of the act. That is Feb. 4, 2006. Any thoughts on how we States deal with that increase until the rule change happens?

B. Davis:

That's a good question. My sense is obviously proving that this tolerance is going to be at the road side, you're going to have a state enforcement official who is going to probably -- I'm assuming the trigger is that that vehicle in some way or another is over the 80 thousand pound limit or it is somewhere over an axle weight. That's when I think this would kick in. The question would be to which axles does it apply? I think at this point we're going to have to leave it to roadside enforcements discretion as to how they want to treat it. Remember that a state is not compelled to offer this tolerance. States given the option to offer the tolerance and not be penalized for failure to enforce the standard federal weight rules. But I think at this point it's going to be pretty much the inspector at the road side, what he's going to do with this. Probably be a result of negotiation with the driver. Now, the driver bears the burden of proof according to the law. So he's going to have to say to that enforcement official, okay, here I have a piece of paper that says indeed it is a functioning power unit. It weighs x amount. I'm assuming that he can claim up to 400 pounds. Some may even weigh more. He will all have to demonstrate to that officer probably by turning the unit on to keep heated or cool. Outside of that, we don't have any provisions. I think it's common sense what the driver and the roadside official are going to work out. That's really where we are right now.

J. Seplow:

Okay. Bob, another question for you. Can you explain again why Nebraska was able to get the exception to the freeze? Isn't this exception a handicap for harvesters going from state to state when they are forced to split their load?

B. Davis:

This is typical of a lot of the vehicle freeze itself, the 1991 freeze. It did freeze in different states different configurations. Yes, we already had the situation going state to state vehicles are broken down going from triples to doubles or even splitting those in two. The Nebraska del gage was able to convince the conference committee that this should be added to the final SAFETEA-LU. That's the only reason it got in. But again, generally congress has been very reluctant to entertain any changes to the freeze. Whatever reason in the sausage factory, the conference, this was introduced and was able to pass. We have people asking for areas where they have not been able to exercise them with clout. This is typically is what drives it.

J. Seplow:

Mark, we'll go back to you. The question is, has maintenance been an issue with the IRD WIM load cells deployed on the interstate in Indiana ? Particularly, how often are the load cells maintained? What's the impact on traffic?

J. Seplow:

I'm sitting here smiling. This is one of the problems that we have here. This is one of the reasons we created the CVO section. We want to get all of this under one area. Right now the wims that we have deployed really are under our division plank. They use them more just to capture information than anything. Obviously they can be used for a lot of other things. They have a maintenance contract. But I'm just not familiar enough with it to be able to answer that Intel generally. Bottom line, we want to get that moved into the CVO area so we can start having control over the planning deployment and the maintenance of the wims so we can have all the information together. I'm sorry I can't answer that. I'm awful busy and that's just part of the project that we have to keep up on as far as maintenance on these things.

J. Seplow:

That may be a question that would be good to post to the LISTSERV. We don't have any other questions typed in so we'll open the phone lines for questions. Candice, if you can give directions on how to ask questions over the phone.


Sure, ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to ask a question, please press star followed by 1 on your touch tone telephone. If you need to withdraw your question, please press star 2. Star 1 if you need to ask a question. Again, ladies and gentlemen, that is star one if you wish to ask a question. I have no questions at this time.

J. Seplow:

Okay, thank you. Well, with that then, we'll go ahead and wrap up. If anybody does think of additional questions, I do have a slide showing that has the presenters' email address and as I mentioned the LISTSERV is another great way to ask questions to peers in other states. I want to thank all three presenters for their great presentations and thank everybody in attendance for attending today's seminar. The recorded version of this event will be available within the next week on the Talking Freight website.

The next seminar will be held on February 15, and is titled "Freight Analysis Framework 2: Findings and Products." If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to visit the Talking Freight Web Site and sign up for this seminar. I also encourage you to join the Freight Planning LISTSERV if you have not already done so.

Enjoy the rest of your day!

Updated: 3/29/2011
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