The Information Super
Highway Meets the REAL Highway
and bus drivers get online to save time and lives on Americas
one of the governments most impressive and effective uses
of the internet. One new Department of Transportation site reduced
the truck and bus registration process from 4 weeks to 20 minutes.
And it saves lives by keeping unsafe vehicles and untrained drivers
off the road.
by Hans Petersen
federal agency that most Americans outside the transportation industry
had not heard of until some rather remarkably efficient things started
to happen. Established just in January of 2000, the Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administrations job is to prevent
fatalities and injuries involving trucks and buses. Its a
job with tragic urgency. There were 5,362 deaths in truck and bus
accidents in 1999.
Two of the
primary ways to prevent these accidents and deaths are to make sure
that the people driving trucks and buses are qualified and trained
and then to certify that the vehicles have been inspected and licensed
and are determined to be safe enough to be rolling across Americas
Online Registration Eliminates Delays
Given the huge
number of trucks and buses out there, its easy to see how
this process could take a long time, how delays and backlogs could
get stacked up.
Well, no longer.
According to George Molaski, chief information officer at DOT, those
delays have disappeared. In the first 12 weeks of the well-wired
agencys new Do-It-Yourself online site, the process of registering
motor carriers has gone from four weeks to 20 minutes.
and independent drivers can sign on
and apply for passenger carrier, commercial carrier and other licenses,
pay fines and reinstate licenses.
points out, "There are benefits for everybody in the way we
are using this information technology. The motor carriers get fast,
convenient, user-friendly service. It saves time and money as well
as eliminates paper forms, checks and postage fees. And its
secure and reliable.
of America benefit because our Do-It-Yourself program reduces paperwork,
staff hours and overhead, including data entry costs. Most of all,
it dramatically cuts back on processing delays, allowing same day
entry of credential requests. And it obviously improves our overall
customer service. The motor carrier industry loves it."
The FMCSA performs
a wide range of licensing and regulatory functions and currently
does 60% of its business with customers online and expects that
number will grow to 70% in 2001.
number for this year so far is 20,000 forms processed each month
using the Internet compared with 10,281 forms processed manually.
Since the Do-It-Yourself site signed on, an estimated 120,000 transactions
have been processed on this new super efficient cyber highway.
cost savings from electronic processing is $2 million dollars annually,"
says Clyde J. Hart, Jr., acting deputy administrator of the Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), adding, "Every
100,000 forms processed electronically will reduce our workload
by about 10 man-years, which we can now use on other important tasks."
Two other supplemental
destinations of the Do-It-Yourself innovation are the very popular
(1.25 million page hits each month) License
and Insurance Information page and the Truck
and Bus Safety Information page. Here is where American citizens
can check out a carriers safety record. Insurance companies
can review their clients safety records and help them prepare
safety improvement programs. The carriers and drivers can compare
their own safety record to their industry peers.
a very powerful tool for encouraging safety today and into the 21st
century," Molaski points out. "In the past, the major
users of this Analysis and Information data had to rely on a variety
of automated and manual data sources and on-site visits for this
information. Now its immediately accessible and responsive
to the public we serve."
And if youve
noticed that some big trucks just keep on trucking when those familiar
freeway weigh stations are open, look.
They are actually being inspected, at freeway speeds, electronically,
as they drive past the inspection station.
The safe carriers
are being inspected by E-Screening technology. This not only increases
the productivity of safe and legal carriers, but also allows FMCSA
to focus on high-risk carriers.
carrier industry is among the most technologically savvy in America
and wanted government to be equally modern, " Molaski says.
"These web sites and electronic services are saving business
and government time and money and providing the best and latest
information to the industry and the public."
is a writer/editor at the Health Care Financing Administration in
Washington D.C. Currently writing for AccessAmerica
E-Gov E-Zine, he can be reached at HPetersen@HCFA.gov.