California bills cover truck rules, HHG movers, military truckers

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 8/28/2012

Bills that cover truck topics – including medical certification, household goods movers and military truckers – are headed to the governor’s desk.

The first bill would 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.

Assembly lawmakers endorsed Senate changes to the bill – AB2188 – clearing the way for it to advance to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

Also moving to the governor is a bill to prohibit household goods movers from being brokers.

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, which promotes consumer rights and protection. Failure to abide by the rule could result in $2,500 fines.

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 can lose out on business.

Another bill to clear the statehouse would simplify the commercial driver’s licensing process for military personnel. AB2659 would authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to waive the driving skills test for a truck driver with military commercial motor vehicle experience. To be eligible, applicants must be licensed with the U.S. Armed Forces.

The effort is in response to a change in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations to allow states to waive the skills tests for applicants with a military commercial vehicle license.

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

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