By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
Indiana lawmakers approved two bills that are of interest to truck drivers. One new law addresses payment of the motor carrier fuel use tax, weight violations and medical certification. Another law is intended to make highway work zones safer.
The first bill – SB458 – requires trucking operations that are required to pay the motor carrier fuel tax to submit all required reports and taxes in electronic format. According to a fiscal impact statement, the change will reduce the workload at the Department of State Revenue and provide about $325,000 in savings each year.
The new law also addresses weight violations. It places sole responsibility for civil penalties for an oversize/overweight violation on the person whose U.S. Department of Transportation number is registered on the vehicle hauling the load. In addition, the state can now impose penalties that are less than the maximum amount for an oversize/overweight violation.
Currently, the state hands out $500 fines for violations. Repeat offenders face $1,000 fines. Failure to secure a permit is a $5,000 fine.
Medical certification is also covered in the new law. The state is now in accordance with the FMCSA’s 2012 medical certification requirements. As of July 1, 2011, CDL holders who fail to certify would be subject to downgrade when renewing their license.
The federal government mandates that states adopt the provision before Jan. 30, 2012, to avoid non-compliance. Failure to comply in the first year could cost state’s 5 percent of federal highway funds. The percent of funds lost would increase to 10 percent for the second or subsequent years of noncompliance.
The second bill – SB338 – is a work zone safety effort. As of July 1, the speed limit in a designated highway work zone must be at least 10 mph below the normal speed in the area.
Violators face fines of at least $300.
In addition, all forms of dangerous driving in the affected areas will carry harsher penalties. Offenses include following too closely, improper lane changes, driver fatigue and failure to yield the right of way.
Committing any one of these offenses, or other similar offenses, in work zones would result in fines of up to $1,000.
Revenue generated from violations specified in the bill will be used to hire off-duty officers to patrol work zones.
“This new law is not just about highway workers,” Transportation Commissioner Michael Cline said in a statement. “On average, four out of every five people killed in highway work zones are motorists.”
To view other legislative activities of interest for Indiana, click here.
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