Using wireless communications and GPS tracking can save from $80 to $309 per truck per month by reducing empty miles according to analyses in the HAZMAT FOT Final Synthesis.
FMCSA researchers assessed technologies to improve the productivity, efficiency, and safety of HAZMAT Carriers in the United States.
Made Public Date


United States

Hazardous Materials Safety and Security Technology Field Operational Test Volume II: Evaluation Final Report Synthesis

Summary Information

This HAZMAT Safety and Security Technology field operational test was conducted working towards the goals of improving homeland security protection of truck-based hazardous materials shipments. This field operational test was designed to test the ability of commercially available technology systems to reduce vulnerabilities in HAZMAT shipping while providing sufficient returns on investment to motor carriers to encourage deployment. These technologies promise to enhance not only security, but also operational efficiencies and potentially, safety.

There are approximately 800,000 HAZMAT shipments per day with many involving materials that could be used for terrorist attacks with staggering potential consequences in terms of deaths, injuries, property damage, and business disruption. With resources in limited supply and many security threats to contend with, HAZMAT trucking requires implementing solutions that are currently available, reduce risk, and that provide tangible and quickly realized benefits to stakeholders proportional to their level of investment. This evaluation examined the technical and financial performance of several promising technologies for increasing the security of HAZMAT shipments to determine what levels of operational efficiency and security benefits can be attained through deployment. This was a first of a kind study that focused on analysis relating to security benefits. This effort called upon the input and guidance of many nationally recognized experts in HAZMAT shipping, security and counter-terrorism, and risk analysis and management, to assess the capabilities of the technology systems tested in this test. The field operational test duration was 18 months.

The field operational test deployed different technology combinations. Wireless mobile communications technologies consisted of satellite and terrestrial communications with GPS-provided vehicle tracking and two-way communications between the driver and dispatcher. Digital phone tracking without GPS provided integrated work order assignment and messages between the dispatcher and driver.

In-vehicle technologies consisted of on-board computers, panic buttons and electronic cargo seals. On-board computers process data by receiving and analyzing information from sensors and devices on the vehicle. The computers store and present the information in a convenient and easily accessible manner. On-board computers provide vehicle disabling and remote locking/unlocking capability. Panic Buttons provide real-time emergency alert messaging notification and localized vehicle shutdown. Electronic cargo seals utilize short-range wireless communications to automatically generate an alert if the seal is broken without proper authorization.

Personal identification technologies consisted of biometrics and a personal identification number. Biometrics consists of technologies that analyze human characteristics (eyes, facial recognition, fingerprint, hand geometry, etc.) for verification of identity and access. This field operational test used fingerprint recognition technology.

Mobile data management used smart card technology to enable the electronic supply chain manifest (ESCM) system. The ESCM system combines biometric verification, smart cards, Internet applications, and the on-board wireless communications system to ensure proper chain-of-control.

Vehicle tracking used routing and Geofenced mapping software to put a "virtual fence" around a vehicle's intended route and automatically notify dispatch and operations personnel when the vehicle deviates from the route. Trailer tracking consisted of both tethered tracking, which provides connect and disconnect events, and untethered tracking which is combined with Geofencing to provide security to the unconnected trailer.

Different combinations of these technologies were used within four hazmat cargo truck types.


Regardless of technology configuration in the FOT, two technologies create the enabling platform on which the other test technologies operate - Wireless Communications and asset positioning/tracking. Through discussions with the participating motor carriers, these two capabilities provide the majority of measurable operational benefits. Without these two capabilities, potential operational, as well as safety and security benefits of the other test technologies, could not be realized.

For this test the motor carrier recently began using a Wireless Communications with GPS system to more accurately capture time-stamped events (start and end of day, breaks, arrive/leave rack, arrive/leave customer locations, etc.). The motor carrier provided the weekly performance statistics for 19 Bulk Fuel delivery drivers based at the main carrier terminal. These data covered an 11-week timeframe, beginning in mid-December 2003 (when the system was proved out and employees trained and familiar with the system). The weekly driver productivity reports demonstrated an overall increase in driver productivity over 11 weeks of 11 percent, bringing the aggregate level to approximately 90 percent of target. This level is seasonally adjusted to reflect varying operating demands throughout the year. This is considered a high level of utilization, but through monitoring and driver management efforts, the carrier continues to maintain and increase the level.

Given the relatively small sample size over a relatively short period of time, the statistical significance of the observed productivity gains was tested and shown to be statistically significant at the 95% confidence level. In other words, the observed gains in productivity are real and not the result of sampling error.

Efficiency Benefits Assessment

Figure 1: Estimated Monthly Per Truck Benefits Derived Using Wireless Communications with GPS Vehicle Positioning System

LTL-High Hazard
Bulk Chemicals
Truckload Explosives

Figure 2: Minimum Estimated Monthly Per Truck Benefits Derived through the Use of Wireless Communications with GPS Vehicle Positioning System.

LTL-High Hazard
Bulk Chemicals
Truckload Explosives

Figure 3: Average LTL Pickup & Delivery (P&D) Driver Productivity Gains Following Deployment of Wireless Communications and GPS Positioning Systems

Net Increase in Driver Productivity
Year 1
Year 2
Year 3

This report, finalized in November 2004, is an assessment of research focusing on the use of technology to address HAZMAT safety and security. These findings along with the benefits provide a valuable resource to those considering the implementation of advanced technology for freight safety and security.

Hazardous Materials Safety and Security Technology Field Operational Test Volume II: Evaluation Final Report Synthesis

Hazardous Materials Safety and Security Technology Field Operational Test Volume II: Evaluation Final Report Synthesis
Publication Sort Date
D. Stock (SAIC), et al.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, U.S. DOT
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Application Taxonomy

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