Marshall University’s Appalachian Transportation Institute (ATI) has received $630,720 in funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to enhance commercial motor vehicle safety. Over $30 million was awarded in total to enhance efforts by states to improve the national commercial driver’s license (CDL) program.
The funding will directly enhance efforts to expand ATI’s Mobile Commercial Driver License (mCDL) testing application into four additional states, according to Brie Salmons, operations manager for ATI.
“The Appalachian Transportation Institute is excited to receive funding to expand the Mobile Commercial Driver License testing application into four additional states as well as develop a low-cost, electronic knowledge testing system and work with the National Center of State Courts on the best practices for effectively meeting the 10-day conviction requirements,” Salmons said.
Salmons said mCDL is a tablet computer-based system designed for CDL examiners to efficiently administer vehicle inspections, basic control skills and road tests.
Dr. Wael Zatar, dean of the university’s College of Information Technology and Engineering, said mCDL provides an advanced solution that utilizes affordable Microsoft Windows and Android tablets to replace existing paper-based systems.
“mCDL transforms the standard paper-based skills testing system with a fully integrated system that operates on a GPS-enabled tablet to reduce human error and improve auditing capabilities for each state,” Zatar added. “mCDL was developed by the Appalachian Transportation Institute in partnership with the West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles with support from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and has become a center piece of the technical work completed at ATI.”
Salmons and Zatar agree the mCDL application would not be possible without the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Commercial Driver’s License Program Implementation grant funding and the hard work of their software engineers. Robert Plymale, chief operating officer for ATI, said the ATI team is to be commended for their work and innovation.
FMCSA’s Commercial Driver’s License Program Implementation (CDLPI) grant program provides financial assistance to states to achieve compliance with regulations concerning driver’s license standards and programs. Additionally, the CDLPI grant program provides financial assistance to other entities capable of executing national projects that aid states in their compliance efforts, which will improve the national CDL program.
The goal of the national CDL program is to reduce the number and severity of commercial motor vehicle crashes in the United States by requiring states to conduct knowledge and skills testing before issuing a CDL, maintain a complete and accurate driver history record for anyone who obtains a CDL, and impose appropriate disqualifications against any driver who violates certain regulations. This effort is directly linked to FMCSA’s focus on reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.