Washington bills to alter state HOS rules, add heavy haul corridor

| 2/19/2008

Two bills of interest to truckers have been offered in Washington state that would make changes to hours-of-service rules and allow large trucks on more roadways in the state.

A bill in the House Transportation Committee would require the State Patrol to adopt and enforce federal rules regarding hours of service on intrastate and interstate trucking operations. The agency would be required to update the rules on a quarterly basis.

Sponsored by Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, the bill – HB2865 – is intended to ensure the state rules are the same as federal regulations. State and local law enforcement officials would be responsible for enforcing the rules on motor carriers and truckers.

The base fine for an HOS violation during roadside inspections would increase from $64 to $550. Fines could not be reduced or eliminated.

Terminal audit penalties would increase from $100, per occurrence, to as much as $550 for each day the violation continues, up to as much as $5,550. The motor carrier’s safety rating also could be lowered.

Motor carriers who knowingly and willfully allow or require HOS violations could have federal penalties brought against them. The same rule would apply to truck drivers who violate the HOS rules.

According to a fiscal analysis on the bill, there were 5,916 HOS violations in 2007. It is estimated that in fiscal year 2009 the state would receive a total increase in revenue of $1.6 billion. In fiscal year 2010 and subsequent years, the projected total increase in revenue is $2.8 billion annually.

In other business, the Senate unanimously approved another bill that would open up a four-mile stretch of state Route 97 to large trucks.

Sponsored by Sen. Bob Morton, R-Orient, the measure would authorize the Washington State Department of Transportation to designate the portion of roadway from the Canadian border to Oroville as a heavy haul industrial corridor. The designation would allow overweight sealed containers used in international trade to be transported along the stretch of roadway.

The heavy haul distinction would authorize WSDOT to issue special permits to overweight vehicles operating in the corridor up to a gross vehicle weight of 137,788 pounds. Special permits would cost $100 each month, or $1,000 annually.

Morton’s bill – SB6857 – is awaiting consideration in the House Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Washington in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor