U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations
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|Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-2006-002 Vol. 69 No. 4 Date: January/February 2006|
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-2006-002 Vol. 69 No. 4
Date: January/February 2006
To preserve the Nation's transportation infrastructure and keep trucks and buses moving efficiently, States must ensure that commercial motor vehicles comply with Federal size and weight standards. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the agency responsible for certifying State compliance with these standards. Until recently, the certification process was conducted manually, with States mailing reports to FHWA. However, the use of paper and pen soon will be a thing of the past.
In late 2005, FHWA's Office of Freight Management and Operations unveiled a new online reporting system and Web site for use by preauthorized freight personnel at State departments of transportation and FHWA division offices. The new system will automate the historically paper-based reporting process for managing truck size and weight certifications.
New System, Same Requirements
Under the old system, each State had until July 1 to submit an annual State Enforcement Plan (SEP) to its local FHWA division office for approval. The SEPs described the procedures, resources, and facilities that the State intended to devote to the enforcement of its vehicle size and weight laws in the next fiscal year. In addition, each State had until January 1 to certify that it was enforcing all applicable size and weight laws and that it was fulfilling the commitments set forth in its SEP. States completed this step by sending FHWA a report with data on the activities carried out and the resources invested during the preceding fiscal year.
To streamline the process for developing SEPs and certification reports, FHWA is replacing its manual reporting system with an online system accessible only by the Federal and State employees responsible for administering the truck size and weight program. The new system enables State enforcement personnel to submit electronically the data and narrative explanations required for each section of the SEP and certification report.
After each State submits its information, staff from the State's FHWA division office reviews the submissions. Should a section fail to meet the reporting requirements or to offer an effective explanation of changes that occurred within the State's program, FHWA staff can use the new system to add comments and remands to the State's online report, including requiring the State to make corrections to its submission. Once the division office is satisfied and has approved the SEP and certification report, the documents are submitted electronically to FHWA headquarters in Washington, DC, for review and use in analyzing State trends and needs.
User-Friendly System Makes Life Easier
The newly automated process eases some of the burden of reporting annual data by providing States with an easy-to-use format for submitting information. For personnel trying the system for the first time, a handy user's guide is available to walk them through the process and provide information on how to upload documents to the site and complete each section. In addition, FHWA established a toll-free number (1-800-VSW-FHWA) that authorized users can call with questions or concerns.
Although the new reporting system intended to help State-level personnel with their duties, it also will assist Federal employees. The new system follows Federal regulations promoting uniformity, so all State submissions will be in the same format, making enforcement and analysis of State trends easier for staff at the Federal level.
In addition to the new reporting system, FHWA developed a question-and-answer section on the new site. Accessible by both system users and the public, this section answers many of the most commonly asked questions and offers guidance on some of the more complex interpretative issues regarding commercial motor vehicle size and weight. And to ease navigation, FHWA created a search function that enables users to locate information based on various keywords.
Already Out There
In addition to the new online reporting system, FHWA's Office of Freight Management and Operations operates other Web sites that provide information on vehicle size and weight programs and enforcement activities. For example, at www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/size_weight.htm, users can access and download historical, statistical, and informational articles on vehicle size and weight requirements. These resources include the U.S. Department of Transportation's Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study (FHWA-PL-00-029), Pilot Car Escort Best Practices Guidelines (FHWA-HOP-04-026), and several brochures and other documents.
|FHWA recently launched a new Web site, shown here, that will streamline the submission and analysis of data on truck weight and size.|
Also available is State information on the permits issued for oversized and overweight vehicles, citations for excessive weight, the number of vehicles required by enforcement officials to offload or shift loads to be in compliance with size and weight regulations, and the number of vehicles weighed on portable, semiportable, and fixed scales and on weigh-in-motion equipment.
Further, the site provides links to sections of the Code of Federal Regulations that relate to truck size and weight, and lists contact information for FHWA staff throughout the country, as well as staff at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Surface Transportation Board, State permitting offices, State departments of transportation, and other government agencies.
For more information, contact Julie Strawhorn in FHWA's Office of Freight Management and Operations at 202-366-4415 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|FHWA's Freight Management and Operations site offers the public information on vehicle size and weight.|
Joanne Sedor is a transportation specialists in FHWA's Office of Freight Management and Operations.