New York Gov. David Paterson has a bone to pick with truckers. And truckers are fed up with how they are being treated.
Citing an increased use of satellite devices to aid their trek through the state, the governor wants to boost penalties for truck drivers who take prohibited routes and crash into low-clearance bridges.
Paterson announced on Wednesday, Oct. 14, he is pursuing legislation that would require all large trucks to be equipped with enhanced GPS units to direct truckers away from restricted routes.
He says action must be taken to address the growing number of truckers who take routes with low clearances, resulting in so-called bridge strikes.
State records show there have been more than 1,400 bridge strikes in the past 15 years.
Truckers and their companies found in violation of the proposed rule would face numerous penalties. They could include confiscation of the truck, possible jail time, and the trucking companies or their insurance carriers footing some of the costs for repairing damaged bridges.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association was pointed in its assessment of Paterson’s proposal.
“This heavy-handed scheme comes on the heels of recent tax, fee and route restrictions for commercial vehicles. The governor is doing a great job of pushing New York to the top of the list of places where truckers least want to do business,” said Mike Joyce, OOIDA director of legislative affairs.
“These efforts are going to cause quality trucking jobs to go elsewhere as well as raise costs to consumers throughout the state.”
Owner-operator and OOIDA Life Member Lou Esposito of Duanesburg, NY, said the problem the state is having with trucks on restricted routes is self-inflicted. He claims the majority of bridges are marked a foot shorter than their actual clearance.
“Truckers would be going out of their way because the clearance is going to say 12’ 8”, when it’s actually 13’ 8”. Why should I be forced to buy a GPS system I don’t need? I’ve been driving for 40 years. I know how to read a road map. I can tell when a clearance is too low,” Esposito told Land Line.
Esposito said the governor’s intent is pretty obvious to him.
“This is another money grab. They want trucks on the thruway to get the tolls. They want trucks off the back roads,” he said.
The bill could be introduced in the Legislature during the 2010 regular session.
To view other legislative activities of interest for New York in 2009, click here.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
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