As directed by Congress, FMCSA administered a pilot test for the development of a UTT system. The purpose of this pilot test was to test a UTT system that met specific functional requirements and could improve the safety and security of trailers and shipments at each phase of its movement – pick up, delivery, receipt, and storage. The UTT system included:
- Near real-time trailer identification
- Accurate time of connection and disconnection activities
- Location and mapping of trailers
- Geo-fencing to identify a risk area
- Unscheduled movement notification
- Remote sensing of a loaded or empty trailer
- Cargo and door Sensors
During the 3-month pilot test, security, safety, and efficiency improvements were recognized through the use of the UTT system by three different carriers.
The UTT system test highlighted various security improvements. A major security improvement was the reduction of theft vulnerability. Vulnerabilities included theft of equipment and cargo, or the use of trailers to convey illicit weapons with intent of direct terrorist attack on persons or property.
According to test participants, the UTT system can effectively monitor cargo and trailer integrity by providing alerts of intrusion, diversion, or theft events. The UTT system may aid in cargo theft recoveries, resulting in the reduction of insurance premiums and deductibles. In assessing the security benefits of the UTT system for hazardous loads of explosives, a panel of experts stated that the UTT system has the ability to reduce inherent shipment vulnerabilities through enhanced visibility of cargo and equipment location and status.
The UTT system did not address safety improvements in the traditional sense of directly preventing crashes. Nevertheless, the UTT system demonstrated an enhanced ability to monitor trailers; thus, miles traveled for the purpose of searching for trailers or hauling misdirected loads could be reduced through the use of the system. This theoretical reduction in miles may result in a reduction in crash risk.
In addition to public sector security and safety benefits, through enhanced visibility of trailers and their cargo status, private sector efficiency can be improved by using the UTT system. Gains in efficiency could be achieved through improved asset management and personnel utilization. Through enhanced visibility of trailers and their cargo, trailers can be used more efficiently, and trailer to tractor ratios can be reduced. According to experts and test participants, the UTT system can improve the ability to find trailers and expedite deliveries through knowledge of trailer arrivals, unloading, and loading. This information can lead to improvements in customer behavior relating to improving the time to turn around trailers for deliveries and preventing the use of trailers as storage. The system can also provide the data to improve the collection of detention charges, even for carriers with good detention programs. It is expected that some of the private sector efficiency benefits are currently being realized by the trucking industry.
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