Hawaii bills cover indemnification, road safety issues

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/14/2012

Professional drivers contemplating packing up and moving their trucking operation to Hawaii soon might no longer have to worry about an unfair clause in motor carrier contracts. Other notable bills address safety issues.

A House bill would end the practice of including indemnification clauses in trucking contracts. The clauses are set up to protect shippers or hold them harmless from anything that happens with a shipment.

Sponsored by Rep. Joseph Souki, D-Maui, the bill would prohibit provisions in motor carrier contracts that provide for shippers to be indemnified for losses caused by their own negligence and make them “void and unenforceable.”

Affected contracts are defined as “a contract or agreement” between a motor carrier and a shipper covering the transportation of property for hire by the motor carrier, entry on property to load, unload or transport property.

The bill – HB392 – is in the House Judiciary Committee.

Multiple bills under consideration would end the Aloha State’s distinction as the lone holdout to mandate a commonsense rule of the road.

The House Transportation Committee voted to advance one bill that would require travelers to make way for emergency personnel during roadside stops.

According to AAA, 49 states have implemented similar safety zone rules. Hawaii is the lone holdout to adopt a “move over” rule.

The legislative effort could garner the votes needed for passage this year in response to two recent traffic fatalities in Honolulu involving police officers.

Sponsored by Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran, D-Maui, the bill would require drivers to move into a lane away from emergency vehicles, including tow trucks, parked along roadsides with lights flashing. If unable to move over, drivers would be required to reduce speed and maintain a safe distance.

The bill – HB2030 – is scheduled for consideration Tuesday, Feb. 14, in the House Judiciary Committee.

Additional efforts underway are viewed by some in the statehouse to benefit safety.

The House Judiciary approved one bill – HB2789 – to authorize the use of automated enforcement cameras to ticket drivers for speeding.

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