Virginia bills cover truck issues

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/26/2015

Trucking issues are the topic of various bills offered at the Virginia statehouse. Issues addressed include truck heights, truck weights, engine brakes, and fuel haulers.

A pair of state lawmakers are behind efforts that target the use of compression brakes throughout the state.

Delegate Luke Torian, D-Dumfries, and Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Upperville, introduced identical bills in their respective chambers that would authorize counties, cities and towns to regulate use of “Jake brakes” when operating vehicles within their boundaries.

Localities that regulate use of the compression released engine brakes would be required to post signage to alert truck drivers.

HB2002 and SB1096 are in the Transportation Committee for their respective chambers.

Another bill in the Senate Transportation Committee covers penalties for overheight vehicles. State law now makes the driver of overheight vehicles solely responsible. Violators face the assessment of three demerit points and fines of at least $1,000. Subsequent violations could result in fines in excess of $2,000.

Sponsored by Sen. Lynwood Lewis, D-Accomac, SB956 revises the punishment for operation of vehicles exceeding a height of 13 feet, six inches. Drivers would continue to be on the hook for demerit points but vehicle owners would bear the responsibility for paying fines.

A separate effort deals with overweight permits for forest products. Sponsored by Delegate Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, the bill would establish an overweight permit for hauling such items as wood chips, mulch and tree bark.

HB2072 would authorize permitted vehicles to have a single-axle weight up to 24,000 pounds, a tandem-axle weight up to 40,000 pounds, and a tri-axle grouping weight up to 50,000 pounds.

In addition, any five-axle tractor-trailer with a minimum of 48 feet between the first and last axle would be authorized to have a gross weight up to 90,000 pounds. Four-axle combos could weigh up to 70,000 pounds and three-axle combos could weigh as much as 60,000 pounds.

Fees for permits would be set at $130.

Delegate Kathy Bryon, R-Forest, and Sen. Stephen Newman, R-Lynchburg, introduced nearly identical bills that cover trucks hauling motor fuels. Specifically, the state would be authorized to temporarily suspend weight limits and hours of service for commercial vehicles hauling motor fuels, heating oil, and certain other liquid fuels during occasions when adverse road conditions exist and adversely affect the delivery of such fuels within the state.

Circumstances affected by HB1522 and SB778 would not require a state of emergency, disaster or extreme weather event.

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