New Rhode Island rules to cover tank endorsements, truck restrictions

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rhode Island state lawmakers approved a handful of bills that cover tank endorsements, truck restrictions, road safety and insurance.

One new law eases rules on getting tank endorsements. It took effect immediately.

Previously H7112, the new rule removes a requirement in state law that an applicant seeking a commercial driver’s license with a tank endorsement had to have regularly driven for at least one year.

Supporters said the change is necessary to aid small businesses that are affected by federal changes to the definition of a tanker truck, including heating oil delivery trucks.

A bill on the governor’s desk would limit truck traffic in the town of North Smithfield.

H7027 would prohibit commercial trucks with at least four axles from driving around the town hall in North Smithfield. Specifically, affected loads couldn’t be driven within one-third of one mile of the building.

In addition, four-axle trucks would be forbidden from crossing the historic stone arch bridge in the area of Railroad Street and Providence Pike, or Route 5, while construction and repairs are taking place.

Supporters said the configuration of the road causes a problem for truckers. They are concerned that eventually a truck could overturn while trying to drive through the area.

“It’s a curvy stretch of road. There have been a couple of incidents where people witnessed tractor-trailer trucks having difficulty trying to navigate the turn,” Rep. Brian Newberry, R-North Smithfield, explained during a recent House committee hearing.

The state Department of Transportation would be responsible for posting signage to alert truckers about the restriction.

Violators would face $50 fines. Subsequent offenses would result in $100 fines.

Another new law expands the list of protected vehicles included in the state’s Move Over law.

H7597 adds highway maintenance equipment while at work to the list that already includes emergency personnel, tow trucks and roadside assistance vehicles.

Two more bills signed into law are intended to help truckers and other drivers avoid the delay of shuffling through papers in their vehicle to locate his or her insurance card.

H7098 and H7125 permit people to get behind the wheel of a vehicle without a paper insurance card as long as they have a form of digital proof of insurance.

“Today, there are a lot of insurance companies out there that provide digital insurance cards and information for their customers,” Rep. Gregg Amore, D-East Providence said in a recent news release. “This bill is simply a way to keep our system current.”

H7125 specifies that law enforcement would be relieved from any liability for damage to an electronic device when it’s presented as proof of insurance. However, police would be forbidden from accessing any other information on the electronic device.

The option for digital proof of insurance is growing in popularity. More and more insurance companies offer apps for customers to download on electronic devices.

According to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, about 35 states have adopted the policy.

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