Gov. Terry McAuliffe took action on a bill to revise multiple sections in Virginia law relating to commercial driver’s licenses to comply with federal requirements. Another new law will increase speed limits on two U.S. highways in the state.
Starting July 1, Virginia law will specifically prohibit driving truck while talking on a handheld phone. Motor carriers requiring drivers to use a handheld device or to text while at the wheel would face fines up to $11,000.
Other provisions in the law include bringing the state in line with medical certification and third-party tester rules.
The new law aids Virginia in meeting the requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act and MAP-21 and helps ensure the state doesn’t lose out on some federal funding.
Specifically, failure to act could have resulted in the loss of about $34.2 million in federal funds the first year of noncompliance, and about $68.4 million each year thereafter.
Previously HB662, the new law also requires distracted driving to be included as part of the state’s driver’s license knowledge exam.
A separate provision in the new law makes it easier for veterans to get back to work driving truck. Service personnel returning from duty will 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.
Another new law authorizes speed limits to be increased on U.S. 23 and U.S. Alternate 58 from 55 mph to 60 mph. HB1164 first requires traffic studies to determine whether the change is needed.
Higher speeds are already in place on U.S. routes 29, 58, 360, 460 and a portion of U.S. 17 where they are non-limited access, multilane, divided highways.
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