New York bills address efforts to restrict truck traffic

| 4/16/2010

Truckers are cheering the outcome of a lengthy battle over a proposed ban on heavy trucks in New York’s Finger Lakes region. The issue now is being taken up by state lawmakers.

The New York State Department of Transportation announced Monday, April 12, it was setting aside the proposed regulations.

The proposal sought to ban all local truck traffic on seven secondary roads in upstate New York. Gov. David Paterson and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer are said to have been behind the proposed restrictions.

However, the agency was unable to show that the ban would solve problems with safety on the highways.

In an effort to avoid future showdowns on the issue, two bills have been introduced at the New York statehouse that would require the NYSDOT to show a “demonstrated public safety hazard” before commercial vehicles could be restricted from state highways.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, and Sen. Martin Malave Dilan, D-Brooklyn, have taken the lead on getting the legislation sent to the governor.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association was among more than two dozen business groups in a coalition founded by the New York State Motor Truck Association to fight the proposed restriction. OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Mike Joyce said it’s common sense for lawmakers to clarify future efforts to regulate truck restrictions.

“We’ve been through a lot during the past two years fighting the proposed regulation to restrict trucks from certain secondary roads in the Finger Lakes. We’re pleased to see legislation introduced that would take a clear-cut approach to any future efforts to restrict routes that trucks can travel,” Joyce said.

A memo attached to Lupardo’s bill makes clear that protections for the trucking industry are needed because truckers provide a vital service to businesses and communities across New York. Trucks transport more than 91 percent of manufactured goods in the state and nearly 90 percent of communities rely on trucks to move their goods.

It is also pointed out that trucks pay about 32 percent of all taxes and fees owed by motorists in the state but account for only 7.8 percent of vehicle miles driven.

Lupardo’s memo cautions that excluding trucks from roads drives up costs to the industry through increased fuel use, added miles and increased wear on trucks, as well as longer driver work hours.

Forcing trucks from routes in New York without proof of public safety concerns would present additional challenges to the industry, Lupardo cautions. Increased costs to deliver goods and the requirement that additional costs be passed on to consumers were underscored as side effects to any ban.

OOIDA encourages its New York members to contact their state lawmakers and ask them for their support of this sound legislation.

The Assembly bill – A10302 – is in the Assembly Transportation Committee. The Senate version – S7177 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New York, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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