helpingOut tall

February 2015

HELP Inc. and the Arizona DOT have a long history of working together to make roads safer

 

While HELP Inc.’s PrePass system—which allows motor carriers to comply with weigh station requirements without getting off the road—is now used in 31 states across the U.S., it was just an idea 30 years ago.

“It really started with a group of trucking executives, Departments of Transportation and highway patrol enforcement agencies asking: ‘What can we do to make truckers’ and inspectors’ lives easier, and how can we do it cooperatively?’” says Karen Rasmussen, president and CEO of HELP Inc. “And so this loose-knit public-private partnership got together.”

By 1991, discussions evolved into a pilot program called the Crescent Project—so named because of the shape formed by the six states involved. Among those first six participating states was Arizona.

“All of these states that participated pulled together research funds and agreed they would use a portion for this project,” says Rasmussen. “Arizona and California in particular were very instrumental in that.”

The public-private partnership created by HELP Inc. and the Arizona Department of Transportation, among others, was ultimately successful, resulting in the PrePass system as it is known today: an automatic vehicle identification (AVI) system that enables participating transponder-equipped commercial vehicles to be pre-screened at designated weigh stations and other facilities. Cleared vehicles are then permitted to bypass the facility while traveling at highway speeds. (See the sidebar for more details.)

In December 2014, HELP Inc. celebrated a milestone, announcing it now serves more than 40,000 qualified fleet customers throughout the U.S. with PrePass. Beyond this current success, John Halikowski, director of the Arizona DOT, who became involved in the Crescent Project when he began working in the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division in 1990, sees an even brighter road ahead for the project.

“Although the partnership has been very strong over the years, the past two to three years have showed a very heightened effort to bring together even more closely the relationships between government and private industry,” says Halikowski. “I think where Karen’s taking HELP Inc. now, as we’re advancing into this new era of technology, is she’s trying to broaden the ability we have in order to give states a better picture of the vehicles that are crossing their state lines.”