In a test using RFID tags for border crossing identification, full electronic verification and screening took place in one second compared to 15 minutes when done manually, and correctly identified vehicles' compliancy status 99 percent of the time.

Results from the New Mexico border crossing Santa Teresa RFID E-Screening Demonstration.

October 2009
Santa Teresa,New Mexico,United States

Summary Information

A ten week pilot study was conducted at the Santa Teresa, New Mexico border-crossing facility to test the potential benefits of using RFID transponders in order to more quickly verify truck, trailer and driver credentials. This electronic credentialing allows for officers and inspectors to focus their attention on vehicles that are either non-compliant or not enrolled in the program. The pilot program was tested with five drivers and 100 trucks. During the trial period over 40 percent of all transponder reads were of enrolled transponders.


The study's authors did an initial "base case" evaluation of existing operations at the border-crossing in order to correctly assess how the electronic screening affected operations for drivers as well as the guards and inspectors. This period was followed by the six week (later extended to ten week) trial period and ended with a post-pilot evaluation. The number of drivers and trucks selected for enrollment were kept small in order to be able to see the benefits of the system without overwhelming the small staff with additional responsibilities for enrolling all unenrolled drivers and vehicles every time one arrived at Santa Teresa.

  • Initial (one-time) enrollment took approximately 30 minutes and many trucks are already equipped with the necessary RFID transponders.
  • Electronic credential verification took 1 second versus the 15 minutes for a full, manual credential verification.
  • Theoretical maximum capacity of the crossing increases to 9,600 trucks per lane per 8 hour shift with electronic verification (3 seconds each), versus the current 32 trucks per lane per shift with the manual inspection (15 minutes each)
  • RFID readers were functioning properly more than 99 percent of the time.
  • The electronic verification system correctly identified compliant/non-compliant vehicles and operators 99 percent of the time, resulting in significant time savings for compliant vehicles and allowing inspectors to focus more attention on non-compliant and non-enrolled vehicles.
  • The number of full compliant checks conducted increased 300 percent in the limited pilot. The number could be 800 percent larger than the base case if all trucks and drivers were enrolled.
  • Potential for further time savings and improvements to the system if linked with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) e-Manifest system in the future.

Staff concluded that while this was a very limited pilot conducted at one of the least busy southern border crossings, it has implications for major time savings and improving system capacity at all border crossings. The major obstacle for large-scale implementation is the enrollment of vehicles into the program on-site once the program begins.

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Santa Teresa RFID E-Screening Demonstration Project Evaluation

Author: Gorder, Valinda; Knoebel, Geri.

Published By: ATR Institute, University of New Mexico. For the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,

Source Date: October 2009



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Goal Areas



electronic screening, border crossing, e-Manifest, RFID, commercial vehicle operations

Benefit ID: 2011-00745