Missouri approves new truck rules

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 7/24/2013

Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law a bill that includes a provision to comply with federal rules on learning permits for commercial driver’s licenses and outlaw texting and the use of hand-held cellphones by truckers while driving. Effective immediately, the new law also boosts the incentive to stop idling.

The governor vetoed a separate bill a month ago that included the truck provisions. He cited a provision to authorize new vehicle and trailer fees and raise existing fees as a reason for his action. Nixon said that costs would have doubled for drivers without providing improved service.

Missouri’s adoption of the truck rules in HB103 helps the state to avoid losing out on $30 million of federal highway funds.

States are required to adopt the CDL testing standards by July 8, 2014. The deadline to adopt the texting ban is Oct. 27, 2013, and the cellphone driving rule must be updated by Jan. 3, 2015.

Also included in the new law is a greater incentive to get truck drivers to stop idling.

States were given the ability in 2005 to allow heavy-duty trucks to exceed the 80,000-pound maximum weight limit to encourage the use of idling-reduction equipment.

In recent years many states have adopted rules to increase the weight limits for trucks equipped with auxiliary power units up to an additional 400 pounds.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 30 states have laws that authorize the weight allowance for commercial vehicles. There are 15 states where the weight allowance is granted by enforcement policy rather than by state law.

States yet to permit the 400-pound exemption are California, Hawaii, Kentucky, North Carolina and Rhode Island. The weight allowance doesn’t affect state highway funding eligibility.

The federal transportation law signed a year ago included a provision to allow states to increase their APU weight exemption another 150 pounds to 550 pounds. The change was sought to accommodate newer technologies available for truckers,which consume less fuel, but weigh more.

The Missouri bill signed into law also increases the state’s 400-pound exemption to 550 pounds.

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

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