Missouri nears new rules on truck lane use, ticket cameras

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/1/2014

A bill moving through the Missouri General Assembly would scrap the state’s truck lane ban. A separate provision in the bill would solve legal troubles with ticket cameras.

Since 2008, trucks with a registered gross weight in excess of 48,000 pounds are prohibited from driving in the far left lane of “urbanized” roadways with at least three lanes of traffic in each direction.

The full Senate could vote as soon as Thursday, May 1, to advance a bill that would allow large trucks to merge left for passing only.

Advocates for keeping trucks out of the far left lane say it makes roadways safer for all travelers.

Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer owns Energy Transport Solutions in Bates City, Mo. The Odessa Republican said prohibiting trucks from using the left lane doesn’t make sense.

“I have had numerous drivers, as well as myself, behind the wheel and experience the problems with restricting trucks from the left-hand lane. What you end up with is a barricade in the middle,” Kolkmeyer recently told Land Line.

Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association agree.

The Association has sent multiple Calls to Action on the issue to Missouri truckers. OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer also wrote a letter to Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders advocating for the change sought by Kolkmeyer.

Spencer pointed out that Missouri law already has restrictions to keep all traffic to the right except to pass. He said that lawmakers would be well served to require the Missouri Department of Transportation to increase signage and awareness of state law directing all vehicles to stay to the right.

Another provision in the bill would permit cities around the state to continue using red-light and speed cameras, as long as they follow certain guidelines. Specifically, ticket cameras could only be used in school zones, work zones and “safety zones.”

Supporters say the change is needed to help settle ongoing legal battles.

Missouri law requires points to be added for moving violations. However, camera-generated tickets don’t assign points. As a result, courts question whether automated ticketing violates state law.

To help settle the issue, the bill would prohibit penalty points from being assessed to red-light runners and speeders caught on camera. A maximum fine would also be set at $135.

Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, said the bill protects the money grab that cities don’t want to give up.

“It’s money to cities. It’s the ordinances. It’s the fines they collect that they get to keep. It’s all about that,” Cox said during House floor debate.

Cities would also be required to perform engineering and crash studies for intersections with cameras installed. In addition, signage would be required to notify drivers that a traffic signal is photo enforced.

OOIDA officials say the focus on ticket cameras ignore the more logical and reasoned approach to roads and traffic.

Spencer has said the goal should be to keep traffic moving in as safe a manner as possible. He has also said that communities would be better served to pursue “intelligent traffic lights that actually monitor traffic and are triggered by traffic flow.”

If approved by the full Senate, HB1557 would head back to the House for consideration of changes before it could move to the governor’s desk.

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