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Kentucky’s commercial vehicle screening system receives national honor

‘KATS’ helps identify candidates for large truck inspections

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 29, 2015) — Kentucky’s innovative use of technology for screening large commercial trucks that pass through the commonwealth has been honored with the 2015 President’s Award for Research by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

The award-winning program, Kentucky Automated Truck Screening (KATS), employs a license plate reader, U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)/ KYU number reader and scene camera technology to collect and process identifying information as a commercial vehicle enters a weigh station ramp.

KATS was implemented across the state through efforts of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) Department of Vehicle Regulation, the Kentucky Transportation Center at the University of Kentucky and the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement division of Kentucky State Police

“KATS is an example of the high quality projects that can come about when groups work toward a common goal,” said Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock. “We were proud to be a part of this project and do our part to ensure our roads and those driving on them are as safe as possible.”

The goal of KATS was to create a system that could more quickly identify commercial vehicles and pinpoint potential problems on Kentucky roadways related to safety, credentials, and registration. In 2013, nearly 3.5 million trucks came through Kentucky’s 14 weigh stations. But due to limited staffing and the lengthy time required to complete an inspection, only about 1 percent of large trucks were inspected. KATS technology does not increase the number of inspections that can be conducted, but it does improve the chances of detecting violations. The system puts a spotlight on carriers with potential problems, while allowing motor carriers in good standing to continue down the road.

As a truck enters a weigh station equipped with KATS, data collection begins immediately. A complete record contains the date and time, vehicle weight, license plate number and jurisdiction, USDOT and KYU numbers, and an overview image. Data is correlated into a single record and checked against several state and federal systems. In all, 16 tests are run on every vehicle. KATS flags vehicles that fail any test, but only those violations specified by enforcement are automatically directed to stop.

Research has shown that inspections initiated through KATS tend to detect more violations. Finding and correcting violations results in safer roadways and a possible increase of revenue for Kentucky if KATS also spots tax violations for commercial vehicles.

Ten KATS systems are operational in the state — eight at weigh stations, one on Interstate 64 in Shelbyville and one at a virtual weigh station on the AA Highway in Grayson. KATS was developed using federal grant money.

The award was presented Sept. 27 in Chicago at AASHTO’s annual meeting. Accepting were Brian Beaven, assistant director of the KYTC Division of Motor Carriers, and Dr. Joe Crabtree, director of the Kentucky Transportation Center, on behalf of engineer Jerry Kissick.

It was the second prestigious award for KATS, which was named 2014 Project of the Year by the Intelligent Transportation Society of the Midwest in December.