New technologies of heavy vehicle enforcement

By: Jonathan Stewart

The emerging enforcement technology will see a shift from manual inspections to digital self-reporting

New technologies of heavy vehicle enforcement
ARRB Group Network Operations senior engineer David Green.


The ARRB Group has shed some light on the emerging technologies that will be used by heavy vehicle enforcement in the coming years.

Speaking at the 23rd World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), David Green, a senior engineer in ARRB Group’s Network Operations team, says the current model of manual enforcement will be overtaken by the emergence of digital monitoring systems in the next decade.

According to Green, the digital trend will require road agencies to create their own path through a "modular and interoperable approach to the technologies that they use" as they combine current enforcement techniques with the new.

"There are various technologies that are emerging that could influence how heavy vehicle enforcement is undertaken but unfortunately there’s no silver bullet per say," he says.

"And the technology used depends on how it can be enforced and how the road agencies wish to undertake that enforcement."

Detailing a range of short, medium and longer-term technologies that could be utilised by Australian road agencies, Green says in the next two years, "we’ll see the use of more roadside technologies but in the medium and longer term, we’d expect that there will be a trend towards more telematics and in-vehicle technology that enable self-reporting."

While digital options are a few years away, he says that the industry will need to be on board in order for the road authorities to function efficiently.

"The main issue [will be] the take-up of the technology by the heavy vehicle industry," he says.   

However, there are advantages for transport operators, should they wish to make the jump to digital.

Short term

Green says the technologies that will be available to road authorities in the short term will be thermal imaging and lazer profiling gantries, remote-control weigh stations and cross-referenced databases.

The thermal imaging technology will be focused on vehicle brakes, he says, and works as a truck travels past at a slow speed.

Because it requires a slow speed, it would not be used for highways, rather it would provide road authorities with an idea of load a brake is taking during an inspection.

Green says it is "suitable for use in a screening bay and generally it can be used to identify potential heavy vehicles that may warrant a brake test."

"It’s relying on an operator to use to see if there’s any discrepancy between the thermal images of the wheels to detect if one brake is taking more load than another one.

"It’s a technology that shouldn’t replace expert enforcement officers’ decisions but should be used to assist them to in making a decision as to which heavy vehicles they should bring in for a manual brake test.

Lazer profiling will also require a slow speed to work and provides authorities with quick vehicle measurements.

"This is a gantry-mounted lazer scan technology that can be used to measure the height, width and length of a vehicle and can undertake the measurement of vehicles travelling at around 5kmh or less," Green says.

"The first gantry captures the height and the width and the second captures the length. This can be used to assist enforcement officers in undertaking measurements of heavy vehicles, in a quicker manner.

"If they can do it in a quicker manner, they can process that vehicle through the manual inspection site and allow them to inspect more vehicles."

The third emerging technology suggested by Green is the addition of remote-controlled weigh stations.

"This is generally used at a junction where you have low volume roads," Green says, "and you’ll have one major inspection station and you’ll have monitoring sites on adjacent roads."

In the inspection site, Green says you would have a weigh bridge and supporting cameras to inspect the vehicles.

In the monitoring sites, officers would be able to look over supporting documents and communicate with the vehicle and those officers on site undertaking manual checks.

"That enables the officer at the inspection station to communicate with the vehicle on the monitoring sites, be able to do some basic inspections, and determine whether that vehicle needs to directed into the inspection section or whether they can proceed along the road," Green says.

The final short-term enforcement technology that is emerging is the use of cross-referenced data between state and national road authorities.

Green says as heavy vehicles are registered in one jurisdiction and often use other jurisdiction’s roads, there is an increasing demand for this information for both logistic and enforcement purposes.

"There’s a growing national logistics freight need for enforcement agencies to cross-reference the databases so they can determine that a vehicle needs an inspection and have the records of that to see whether they have to keep inspecting it," he says.

Medium term

The two medium-term technologies that Green highlights as potential road authority tools are the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) and the use of electric work diaries (EWD), suggesting that they both may "take off in the next two to five years."

The IAP, which is certified through Transport Certification Australia (TCA), works as an exchange program between road agencies and transport operators and is already being utilised in some parts of the industry.

Transport operators offer information such as date, time and position of vehicles in exchange for access to previously unpermitted roads.

The operators must also install on-board mass systems to monitor how heavy the trucks are and declare that information to authorities as well.

Green says this deal would save time for authorities and also operators, as they would not be targeted.

"Through this self declaration to road agencies, road agencies can then target their enforcement on those heavy vehicles wish to not declare their mass," he says.

Also in the medium term is the move from paper-based work diaries to digital equivalents.

While Green says there is yet to a certified provider in Australia as yet, it has benefits for both transport operators and enforcement officers.

"Unfortunately there’s no current certified EWD providers in Australia," he says, "but we see this as technology that could potentially emerge in the medium term because we can see the benefits of on-road enforcement through remote access mechanisms, reduced times for compliance tests – so there’s a carrot there for freight drivers to take up this technology – and there’s also some costs savings in road enforcement."

Long term

Looking past the next five years, Green says the future in enforcement sits with Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS), the communication between vehicles and the world around them.

"This is an emerging technology that will enable vehicles to communicate with other vehicles and infrastructure and centres through a standardised system," he says. "You could say that IAP is a basic form of ITS."

 Like IAP, Green says the advantages are in the ability to communicate with road agencies and avoid their focus.

"While there is no off-the-shelf product, it could potentially provide an avenue for heavy vehicles to be able to self-report to road agencies, and so those road agencies than then focus their attention on those vehicles that wish not to self-report," he says.

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