ITS JPO Home | ResearchUpdated October 27, 2015 2:31 PM

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Mode-Specific Research
Smart Roadside

Research Overview

The vision for the Smart Roadside is one in which commercial vehicles, motor carriers, enforcement resources, highway facilities, intermodal facilities, toll facilities, and other modes on the transportation system collect data for their own purposes and share the data seamlessly with the relevant parties, in order to improve motor carrier safety, security, operational efficiency, and freight mobility.  This vision will be achieved through the application of interoperable technologies and information sharing between in-vehicle, on-the-road, and freight facility systems.  Whenever possible, the Smart Roadside will leverage stakeholders’ current technology investments in order to augment existing programs and support new activities.

Smart Roadside

Research Goals

The research goals of the Smart Roadside program are to:

  • Enhance roadside enforcement operations through improved screening and automation of inspection/compliance checks.
  • Provide enhanced road condition and traffic information to support (1) commercial vehicle route planning and improved access to intermodal ports, urban pick-up and delivery locations.
  • Identify key components (e.g., motor carrier, commercial vehicle, commercial driver, cargo) and communicate with commercial vehicles in real-time at highway speeds.
  • Ensure that the necessary standards, protocols and architecture are developed to support both interoperable operations across the country and appropriate data privacy requirements.

The outcome of the Smart Roadside research program will be clear evidence, which can be disseminated to stakeholders, of how technologies and information sharing really help to improve commercial vehicle operations on the road.

Research Questions

  • What data elements and transactions are required to prevent highway crashes involving commercial vehicles and contribute to gains in highway safety overall?
  • How does Smart Roadside support improved highway travel flow and support a high velocity global supply chain model?  Is there a private sector component to this initiative?
  • How does Smart Roadside contribute to extending the useful service life of investments made into highway infrastructure?
  • Are there opportunities for private sector partnerships designed to support the operation of highway based freight flows?
  • What is the architecture for the data exchanges expected to occur at the roadside within the Smart Roadside environment?
  • How will Smart Roadside operate within the overall connected vehicles program?

Research Approach


The Smart Roadside program is a joint modal initiative between Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA). The Smart Roadside program encompasses technology and information sharing research efforts with commercial vehicle roadside elements that are crucial to the missions of the Department. The objectives of the program are to:

  • Facilitate the flow of commercial vehicle traffic
  • Prevent and respond to crashes and other incidents in a timely manner
  • Focus enforcement resources on high-risk carriers, vehicles and drivers
  • Ensure timely transport of goods to the marketplace
  • Reduce unnecessary delays for commercial vehicles, leading to reduced energy consumption and emissions
  • Preserve roadway infrastructure

Key Activities

In support of the Smart Roadside Initiative, FMCSA and FHWA will:

  • Fund selected tests, demonstrations and deployments
  • Coordinate with State and industry representatives to identify promising applications of Smart Roadside infrastructure
  • Coordinate the development of the necessary architecture and standards
  • Develop appropriate guiding principles
  • Document the business case for the Smart Roadside
  • Develop and implement a deployment strategy
  • Maintain a Smart Roadside roadmap and projects database to coordinate FMCSA, FHWA, and other related programs and projects
  • Facilitate stakeholder collaboration
  • Seek collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Research Contacts

To learn more about this research, contact:

Katherine Hartman
Program Manager, Truck and Program Assessment
ITS Joint Program Office
Research and Innovative Technology Administration
(202) 366-2742

Tom Kearney
Office of Freight Management and Operations
Federal Highway Administration
(518) 431-4125 x218

Chris Flanigan
Office of Analysis, Research and Technology
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
(202) 385-2384


Additional ITS Resources on the Federal Highway Administration Office of Operations Website

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