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Electronic Identification of Commercial Motor Vehicles

Newsletter Update

In 2010, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) submitted a petition for rulemaking to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) requesting that FMCSA require that every commercial motor vehicle used in interstate commerce be equipped with an electronic device capable of communicating a unique electronic identification number when queried by a law enforcement roadside system.

CVSA contended that implementation of a mandate requiring an electronic identification would ‘‘facilitate efficiency and efficacy in the roadside inspection program by more fully enabling roadside enforcement agencies to target their efforts at high-risk operators, while at the same time, providing an incentive for safe and legal operations.’’

FMCSA denied the petition in 2013 stating that it would be inappropriate to grant the petition because they lacked information necessary to estimate the costs and benefits of an electronic ID mandate. FMCSA noted that, before undertaking rulemaking, it would be prudent to:

  • Fully explore the costs and safety benefits associated with a rule to require the use of electronic identification systems on all CMVs
  • Explore the currently available technological options
  • Work cooperatively with the Federal Highway Administration, CVSA, and other interested parties to develop a technically sound, cost effective, long-term approach to identifying CMVs at roadside.

In 2015, CVSA resubmitted their request along with information to address the deficiencies in their original request. FMCSA decided to grant this request and recently published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking. FMCSA is seeking comments about electronic identification in the following areas:


  • Should the device be permanently affixed or moveable?
  • What data should be included?
  • Should it include information about the driver?
  • Should it include information that may vary from trip to trip such as axle weights and pre-trip inspection date?
  • Should it be limited only to the power unit or also include trailers?


  • Should the electronic identification framework be flexible so that functionality could be added later?
  • How should malfunctions or transmission difficulties be handled?
  • What cybersecurity issues should be considered?

Populations Affected

  • What is the population of trucks that already have a type of electronic ID technology, such as PrePass or Drivewyze?


  • What are the potential safety benefits?
  • Would implementation lower crash rates?
  • How would implementation impact overall effectiveness of state CMV inspection programs?
  • What is the cost for states, carriers and drivers?

This is an advance notice of electronic identification rulemaking which is very early in the rulemaking process. It’s also worth noting that CVSA filed their original request twelve years ago. However, even though things generally move very slowly in the regulatory world, the motor carrier industry’s response to this notice will help set the standards for any future electronic ID system.

Some of the requested comments are clearly aimed at CVSA and the states to justify the expense that will be required to implement such a change. However, we must also acknowledge that we’re living in a world that is becoming increasingly dependent on electronic communication and that alone may drive this initiative. Comments must be received by November 22, 2022.