California bills cover truck rules, HHG, video cams

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, August 16, 2012

California lawmakers are moving ahead with bills that cover truck topics including medical certification, household goods movers and video cameras.

One vote away from moving to the governor’s desk is a bill to bring the state in line with the federal rules on medical certification and texting while driving.

CDL holders operating interstate now are required to provide proof from a doctor to state licensing offices that they are healthy enough to get behind the wheel. Failure to certify by early 2014 could result in a downgrade of licenses and possible suspension.

Another provision included in the bill addresses offenses of texting while driving truck. Violations would be considered a “serious traffic violation.”

Advocates say the changes are necessary to bring states in line with federal standards and put more money toward roads.

States such as California have every incentive to adopt the federal rules. Failure to meet deadlines could cost states 5 percent of their federal highway funds. Decertification of the state’s CDL program is another potential punishment for inaction.

The bill – AB2188 – is awaiting approval on the Assembly floor of Senate changes before it can advance to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

The full Senate could vote any day on another bill to prohibit household goods movers from being brokers. If approved, it would head back to the Assembly for a final vote before it could move to the governor.

AB2118 addresses unlicensed operators who use the Internet to lure customers. A broker would be defined as “a person engaged for others” in setting up household goods hauls on behalf of shippers.

Also, HHG haulers with websites would be required to add a link directing visitors to the Public Utilities Commission website on moving companies that promotes consumer rights and protection. Failure to abide by the rule could result in fines of up to $2,500.

The bill analysis notes that consumers hiring a household goods hauler that has not obtained a permit can be saddled with excessive charges, uninsured losses and other service problems.

“Carriers operating without a permit have an unfair cost advantage over permitted carriers because they maintain inadequate liability and workers’ compensation insurance, which is a substantial expense for lawful operators,” the analysis reads.

As a result, law-abiding carriers lose business to bad actors.

The Senate voted unanimously to approve a bill for California law to conform with a federal exemption on the use of video event recorders in large trucks. It now heads back to the Assembly for approval of changes.

State law now prohibits motor carriers operating solely within California from placing objects on windshields that obstruct, or reduce, the driver’s view.

As long as the federal exemption remains in place, AB2477 would authorize use of video cameras on intrastate truck windshields. More specifically, the cameras could be posted in the upper center portion of the windshield.

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

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