Legislation in Missouri focuses on trucks; road safety

| 3/2/2007

Several bills of interest to truck drivers are drawing consideration in the Missouri General Assembly.

A bill awaiting consideration before the full Senate would increase the maximum gross vehicle weight limit and axle weight limit for large trucks equipped with idle reduction technology. Sponsored by Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, the measure – SB102 – also would authorize affected trucks to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.

A separate measure offered by Stouffer would create an income tax credit for installing idle reduction technology for the next two years. The credit would be equal to 50 percent of the amount of purchase and installation on Class 8 trucks – up to $3,500 per truck.

The bill – SB202 – is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

One other bill introduced by Stouffer would prohibit the expungement of records for commercial driver's license holders convicted of or pled guilty to an offense where the person's blood alcohol content is 0.04 percent or above. It is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

The bill – SB50 – includes a provision about driving while out of service.

First offenders would be prohibited from driving a commercial motor vehicle for six months. Existing Missouri law calls for a three-month ban.

Anyone found in violation a second time within a period of 10 years would face a two-year ban from driving truck. Existing rules call for a one-year suspension.

A bill in the House Rules Committee would allow common carriers of household goods to file applications to the State Highways and Transportation Commission for approval of rates to reflect increases and decreases in the carrier's costs.

Sponsored by Rep. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, the bill – HB28 – would repeal "the exemption that currently allows household goods movers to operate wholly in municipalities, between contiguous municipalities, or commercial zones" without having to obtain operating authority from the Missouri Department of Transportation. Currently, household movers are exempt from the rules and regulations if their operations are restricted to those described areas.

A similar bill awaiting consideration on the Senate floor includes the same provisions but also would prohibit indemnity agreements in motor carrier transportation contracts that claim "to indemnify a party against loss from negligence or intentional acts void and unenforceable." The bill – SB45 – is sponsored by Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter.

Two more bills of interest are in the House Transportation Committee.

The first bill would allow harsher penalties for CDL holders found to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Sponsored by Rep. Darrell Pollock, R-Lebanon, the bill – HB114 – would increase the fine and penalty for violators. Existing law allow for up to 6 months imprisonment and/or as much as a $500 fine. The proposed change to the law would allow for as much as one year behind bars and up to a $1,000 fine.

The second bill would apply to truckers and other drivers.

Sponsored by Rep. Neal St. Onge, R-Ellisville, the bill – HB89 – would double the fine for a moving or speeding violation within a designated travel safe zone.

A "travel safe zone" is defined as any stretch of road posted by MoDOT where a highway safety analysis shows the number of injury or fatal crashes "exceeds a predicted safety performance level for comparable roadways as determined by the department," St. Onge wrote.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor