Virginia bills nearing passage cover truck rules, parking, ticket cameras

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, February 24, 2014

Virginia lawmakers take action on issues that cover truck rules, ticket cameras, speed limits and truck parking.

A bill on its way to the governor’s desk would revise multiple sections in state law relating to commercial driver’s licenses to comply with federal requirements.

Virginia law would prohibit driving truck while talking on a handheld phone. Motor carriers who require drivers to use a handheld device or to text while at the wheel would face fines up to $11,000.

The Senate voted unanimously to approve the bill that would also require distracted driving to be included as part of the state’s driver’s license knowledge exam. House lawmakers already approved HB662 on an 88-11 vote.

The bill would also make it easier for veterans to get back to work driving truck. Service personnel returning from duty would be allowed to exchange their military CDL for a state-issued CDL without requiring a driving test. However, to be eligible applicants must have at least two years of experience driving a military commercial vehicle “immediately prior” to application for a CDL.

Sponsored by Delegate Robert Brink, D-Arlington, the bill would aid Virginia in meeting the requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act and MAP-21.

A fiscal note on the bill reports that failure to meet these requirements could cost the state some federal funding. Specifically, the state would stand to lose about $34.2 million in federal funds the first year of noncompliance, and about $68.4 million each year thereafter.

The bill awaits Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s signature.

Two separate bills cover the use of ticket cameras throughout the state. The automatic ticketing machines are used in nine communities and two counties.

A bill awaiting a Senate floor vote specifies that drivers found in violation at photo-monitored intersections would have a right to appeal to the circuit court and that the appeal would be civil in nature. Fine amounts would also drop from $50 to $25.

If approved by the full Senate, HB1040 would head to McAuliffe’s desk. House lawmakers already approved it by unanimous consent.

House and Senate lawmakers unanimously approved a separate bill that would also cut into profits by standardizing yellow times at intersections around the state posted with red-light cameras. All red-light cameras would be required to have yellow times of at least three seconds.

HB255 can now move to the governor’s desk.

The Senate unanimously approved another bill that addresses concerns about reckless driving. SB293 would punish reckless drivers that cause serious injury or death of law enforcement, paramedics, firefighters or highway workers. Offenders would face at least $2,500 fines and the possibility of loss of driving privileges for one year. A judge could also add a civil penalty of up to $10,000.

The bill is in the House Courts of Justice Committee.

Another bill headed to the governor’s desk would authorize speed limits to be increased on U.S. 23 and U.S. Alternate 58 from 55 mph to 60 mph. HB1164 would first require traffic studies to determine whether the change is needed.

One more bill to receive unanimous support in both chambers of the statehouse would add to the state’s list of communities that regulate or prohibit truck parking.

Currently, the counties of Arlington, Fairfax Hanover, Stafford and Prince William and the towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna have authority to enact ordinances to regulate or prohibit truck parking in residential areas.

HB9 would add the town of Blackstone to the list. It now moves to the governor’s desk.

OOIDA says that communities and state DOTs should put a greater emphasis on adding parking and making safe parking more available for truckers.

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