March 2016

Changes in technology and safe driving tools present new opportunities and challenges for the AAMVA community

Anne Ferro Headshot

Looking ahead to the fast-paced changes in vehicle technology, there is no better place to see the opportunities and challenges they present than commercial motor vehicles. On-board telematics that monitor driver behavior, automatic braking systems that detect objects ahead, and driverless truck testing like “platooning” are just a few of the technologies that have been deployed in the past five years.

The pace of change got a boost recently when U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced his actions to clear “the path forward for manufacturers, state officials and consumers to use new technologies and achieve their full safety potential.” In Canada, driverless trucks are being deployed in off-road operating environments in the West, and Ontario’s leaders are paving the way to test driverless cars in real-world settings.

These changes in CMV technologies and safe driving tools are already presenting themselves to the AAMVA community. For example:

  • When a CDL applicant takes her skills test in a 2016 model CMV, are the adaptive cruise control and back-up camera disabled? If so, the driver’s manual skills are vetted, but how do you know whether the driver knows how to operate the new technologies? 

  • A CMV roadside inspector faces a similar challenge. What’s the benefit of new technology if the driver does not know how to deploy and maintain the sensors and safety equipment properly? Whose responsibility is this, and when or how are new inspection standards established?

  • The federal government is proposing a comprehensive new rule on entry-level CMV driver training. Where will driver training on “automated and driverless” trucks fit into the curricula? What changes will be required to test commercial drivers?

  • At roadside, trucks and buses are equipped with safety sensors and devices that enable virtual monitoring at highway speeds. When this becomes widespread, what privacy issues could limit monitoring and enforcement? 

These questions, and others, are presented on a daily basis to chief administrators, enforcement leaders and their staff. Aware of the huge safety benefits these technologies bring, and concerned by the speed at which they are used has outpaced a consistent regulatory framework, members are keen to strengthen collaboration among federal, provincial and state governments, and the industry.

To that purpose, AAMVA’s Board of Directors recently created a Motor Carrier Working Group to expand AAMVA’s services and support to members who work on motor carrier related issues.

Ultimately, AAMVA’s members have deep experience in striving to improve the safety and compliance of truck and bus operations, and that persistence and skill are exhibited on a daily basis in their commitment to saving lives.

Anne Ferro

AAMVA President and CEO