Motor carriers in Connecticut are regulated by several state agencies, each with different responsibilities and a different viewpoint on safety and safety information. The agencies are: the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Revenue Services, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Safety (State Police), and the Department of Environmental Protection. Additionally, the Department of Information Technology is involved with procuring, maintaining, and supporting that state's computer and networking technology. Other, private-sector organizations with an interest in motor vehicle regulation are: the motor carriers themselves represented by the American Trucking Associations and the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut. Involving all of these state agencies and motor carrier organizations was an important element of developing and deploying the safety information exchange system and a vital part of its success. The Connecticut experience with a safety information exchange system provides suggestions for other deployers:
- Create a steering committee of state agencies and motor carrier organizations to guide CVISN deployment. In Connecticut, the Connecticut Motor Carrier Advisory Council (MCAC) serves as the Steering Committee for the CVISN projects. Created in 1992 by state statute, the MCAC includes representatives from six state agencies and the President of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut. The MCAC provides direction, resolves issues, and reviews accomplishments with CVISN projects including the safety information exchange system.
- Be sure to incorporate the different viewpoints of state agencies and motor carriers in the design. During the CVISN requirements and design process, it is important to understand the needs of many different system users and to reconcile and incorporate these needs in the systems that are deployed. For instance, in the planning stage of the safety information exchange system it was realized that the state agencies involved had different views of what constitutes a “safe carrier” and, thus, rely on different indicators. The State Police tend to be more interested in out-of-service history and safety rating while the Department of Transportation is more interested in repeat permit and registration violations. In developing the safety information exchange system, therefore, individual agency needs for information sharing were discussed at great length in order to arrive at a single carrier and vehicle “snapshot” that provides necessary data for users from multiple agencies.
- Make the system work for motor carriers. Through the MCAC, Connecticut welcomed the motor carrier industry's input in the design and deployment of the safety information exchange system. The collaborative design process encouraged the industry to provide ideas on approaches and methods. Moreover, the process provided an opportunity for motor carriers to see early on how the new safety information exchange system would affect them.
The safety information exchange system deployment in Connecticut has provided several benefits. The real-time access to credentials data and safety data has made the inspection process more efficient. Moreover, inspectors are more easily able to target carriers with poor or unknown safety records, thus helping to improve highway safety. The new system has also improved the mobility of motor carriers with good safety records as they are less likely to be stopped by safety inspectors. An additional benefit of the system is the inspection of commercial vehicles for excessive emissions: Inspectors have found that carriers with poor safety records are also more likely to fail emissions tests. Although the evidence is anecdotal, it appears that the access to comprehensive, real-time safety data at the roadside is providing environmental and health benefits.