Commercially available, off-the-shelf technology that enhances the safety and security of hazmat transportation operations ranges in cost from $250 to $3,500 per vehicle.
Made Public Date

Summary Information

The HAZMAT Safety & Security Field Operational Test was conducted to assess commercially available, off-the-shelf technology that could be readily deployed in the near term to enhance the safety and security of hazmat transportation operations. Part of the assessment included collecting cost data of the different technologies. Listed below are the primary technologies evaluated during the field operational test (FOT) (August 2002 to August 2004):


    • Wireless satellite or terrestrial communications. These systems integrated Global Positioning System (GPS) with two-way text communications to track the location and status of drivers, vehicles, assets, and cargo. In addition, digital phone tracking systems (without GPS) were used to facilitate communications between drivers and dispatch and transfer details of work order assignments, route maps, and other messages.
    • Geo-fence mapping software. This software created a "virtual fence" around the vehicle’s intended route, automatically notifying dispatchers and authorities when a vehicle deviated from the route.
    • Trailer tracking. These systems monitored "connect and disconnect" events (tethered tracking), and tracked changes in trailer position and location (untethered tracking).


    • In-dash and wireless panic buttons. These systems enabled real-time emergency alert messaging notification and localized vehicle shutdown.


    • Global login. These systems monitored the authorization status and login/logoff activity.
    • Biometric identification. These systems verified the identity of personnel by analyzing human characteristics (eyes, facial recognition, fingerprint, hand geometry).
    • Electronic supply chain manifest (ESCM). These systems ensured proper chain-of-control by combining biometric verification, smart cards, Internet applications, and the on-board wireless communications.
    • Electronic seals (E-Seals). These systems used short-range wireless communications to automatically generate an alert if the seal was broken without proper authorization.


    • Vehicle disabling. The OBC was configured to shut the vehicle down if there was a loss of satellite signal strength (i.e., severed feed cables), or if it received a wireless message from the driver or dispatch indicating it was stolen.
    • Remote locking and unlocking. This system required that the driver contact the dispatcher to remotely unlock/lock the cargo door by sending a message to the OBC device.

Early on the project team acknowledged that many hazardous materials carriers work on a small profit margin making full-scale deployment of all technologies unlikely. Although the project was limited to nine trucking companies and 100 vehicles, the technologies used by the companies represented a broad range of available solutions. Taking into account market penetration, the technologies evaluated were separated into six technology tiers based on cost and functionality. Tier 1 represents the low-end cost and tier 6 represents the high-end cost. The table below, excerpted from the report, identifies the approximate cost of each tier.

Tier Costs Functionality
(Low-end, approximately $250 per vehicle) Include a digital cellular phone with pickup and delivery software with phone/on-board directions/mapping. This option would also include on-site vehicle disabling with the wireless panic remote. This would not be able to send a panic message but would give the ability to shut it down remotely. This would not include positioning until position location is implemented by the national networks.
$800 Includes terrestrial communications with in-dash panic button.
$2,000 Includes satellite communications with an in-dash panic button and global login.
$2,500 Includes all of what is in tier 3 but adds the OBC. A second variant included in this tier includes satellite communications with an in-dash and wireless panic button with biometric authorization, and E-manifest.
$3,000 Includes satellite communications with an in-dash and wireless panic button with biometric authorization, E-manifest and an additional OBC. The other variant is swapping the OBC for an untethered trailer tracking device.
(High-end, approximately $3,500 per vehicle) Includes satellite communications with an in-dash and wireless panic button with biometric authorization, ESCM, and E-Seals.

These estimates represent only the hardware installed on the trucks in commercial quantities. They did not reflect the price of servers and dispatch systems amortized over the number of vehicles since this can vary widely depending on customer setup. While none of the technologies tested were described as prototypes, several had limited prior field usage outside of government applications.


In an effort to determine how representative the FOT findings were to the hazmat industry, as well as increase the reliability and validity of the FOT, comprehensive data were collected on the hazmat trucking industry. Outreach efforts were conducted to identify additional marketplace technologies that may apply to hazmat transportation safety and security. Information for 94 companies representing 147 technologies was collected; 52 companies provided some type of pricing schemes. Cost data collected were provided in a "Technology Compendium" in Appendix C of the report. Technologies were grouped into nine categories, three of which did not include any costs. Available pricing data are provided below. Although provided in Appendix C of the report, company names have been intentionally omitted from this cost summary.

Software included fleet management software and licensing costs. These products were designed primarily to support mapping and routing capabilities. Engine diagnostics and vehicle maintenance monitoring software were also available.

Fleet management software to support multiple terminals (fleet wide license): $10,000 to $33,000.

Vehicle tracking was presented as in-vehicle equipment designed to track and communicate vehicle location and status. The in-vehicle equipment was supported by existing satellite, terrestrial, or hybrid technologies

Basic in-vehicle tracking equipment: $429 to $995 per vehicle.
Advanced in-vehicle tracking equipment (multiple sensors): $1,290 to $2,275 per vehicle.
Installation costs: $75 to $300 per vehicle.
Monthly service fees: $10 to $50 per vehicle depending on the type of wireless communications required (terrestrial communications were less expensive than satellite).

Asset tracking referred to the tracking of trailers, tethered and untethered. Primary technologies available included satellite, terrestrial triangulation, and GPS-based locators.

Basic unit costs: $139 to $500. Discounts offered for large quantity purchases. Installation, if not included in base price, range from $30 to $125 per unit.
Mid-range unit costs: $375 to $450. Discounts offered for large quantity purchases.
Monthly service fees: $5 to $15, depending on number of location reports.

Biometrics consisted of predominately fingerprint and to a lesser degree facial recognition technologies to provide secure access for authorized personnel. Most systems evaluated were compatible with smartcards and other technologies.

Average cost of a complete biometrics system: $1,000.

Cargo Seals were described as security devices installed on cargo doors to detect unauthorized access. Cargo seals range from basic self-adhesive seals and metal clips to GPS and wireless technologies.

Tape seal: $1.59 per seal. Discounts offered for large quantity purchases.
Advanced GPS enabled e-seal: $1,195 to $1,495 per unit.
Monthly service fees were required for some of the seal tracking systems evaluated, however, these cost were not available at the time of the report.

Locks included cargo/trailer door locking mechanisms (e.g., Kingpin locks, wireless internal door locks). These lock devices are standalone systems not requiring a software program.

Internal locking system integrated with pager and/or controlled by other tracking system: $432 to $595.

System Cost

Fleet wide management software and licensing to support mapping and tracking of HAZMAT shipments: $10,000 to $33,000.