New Jersey bills cover hazmat, truck inspections

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/5/2012

New Jersey is one of the few states where lawmakers continue to meet at the statehouse to discuss possible rule changes. Issues that could soon draw consideration cover truck inspections and officers allowed to perform checks.

Halfway through the statehouse is a bill to add to the list of police officers in the state authorized to inspect hazardous materials hauls.

New Jersey law now limits authority to inspect affected loads to the State Police, officers of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and certain officials at the state departments of Transportation Environmental Protection.

Awaiting consideration in the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee is a bill to extend the authority to include Delaware River Port Authority police officers. The Senate already approved it on a 30-7 vote.

The state’s DRPA counterparts in Pennsylvania already have the authority.

Sen. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, said the bill – S1816 – would provide heightened security on roadways in the state and increased safety.

“We must ensure that hazardous materials cargo entering our state is transported in the most secure manner possible,” Norcross said in a statement. “Providing DRPA officers with inspection and enforcement authority will allow these individuals to make sure proper procedures are followed to assess penalties if a violation takes place.”

DRPA owns and operates four bridges connecting southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Norcross noted that DRPA officers on both sides of the state line have been trained to perform inspections and are familiar with federal regulations on hazmat loads.

A separate Senate bill would allow sheriffs to weigh, measure and inspect commercial vehicles. State law now relegates weighing and inspections to the New Jersey State Police.

Sheriff’s officers would be allowed to require truck drivers to take their rigs to weigh stations or other locations to be weighed, but only if officers have probable cause to believe trucks are in violation of state weight limits.

However, the State Police would retain the right to “establish and operate locations for the measurement and weighing of vehicles.”

In addition, the State Police would keep the sole authority to conduct random roadside weight checks. A random roadside inspection could not be conducted if the truck has been stopped for a random roadside inspection anywhere in the U.S. within the previous 24 hours.

The bill – S1968 – is awaiting consideration in the Senate Transportation Committee.

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

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