Washington bill targets unsafe intrastate truckers

| Monday, April 16, 2007

Unsafe trucking companies are the subject of a bill headed to Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire’s desk.

The Senate voted 42-4 to approve a bill – HB1304 – that would make it easier to shut down trucking operations in the state with faulty trucks and people who drive them recklessly. The House then voted 82-11 to sign off on changes to the bill, clearing the way for the bill to head to the governor.

Washington state law currently allows companies operating solely intrastate to avoid many of the same tough requirements as those companies that operate interstate.

Sponsored by Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Lake Forest Park, the bill would authorize the Washington State Patrol more authority to monitor, inspect and penalize intrastate carriers.

Commercial vehicles operating solely in the state weighing in excess of 26,000 pounds or hauling hazardous materials would be required to have U.S. Department of Transportation identification numbers.

The Senate Transportation Committee added a provision to include commercial vehicles weighing between 16,001 pounds and 26,000 pounds.

If a company’s truck is deemed unsafe or if there are other violations, the State Patrol or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration could place all trucks owned by the company out of service. The OOS order would be lifted once fines were paid and any problems fixed.

Trip permit fees and registration fees also would be increased by $5 and $6, respectively. The revenue would be tagged for enforcement.

Kagi said the protections are needed to prevent a repeat of an incident from 2005 when an overloaded logging truck lost its load north of Hoquiam, WA, on U.S. 101.

In that incident the truck, driven by Garland Massingham of Centralia, WA, dumped a load of logs onto a vehicle and the two occupants were killed, The Seattle Times reported.

Massingham allegedly was on methamphetamine and driving an overloaded truck too fast into a curve when the incident occurred. He was allowed to continue to drive truck until this January when he was sentenced to four and one-half years in prison after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide, The Times reported.

According to KOMO-TV in Seattle, Massingham was involved in another wreck while he awaited sentencing.

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