LAWS & REGULATIONS

Nine states consider increasing speed limits

 

Lawmakers in several states have recently introduced or passed legislation to get rid of speed differentials or to increase speed limits for all drivers.

The new year brings with it a new legislative session, and many lawmakers seem to have speed on their minds. In these nine states, speed differentials and speed limits could be changing in the near future.

Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Transportation recently announced that they will be increasing speed limits from 55 m.p.h. to 60 m.p.h. on more than 5000 miles of state highways for both cars and trucks.

This change will go into effect as soon as new speed limit signs are put in place, which is expected to occur in the spring of 2019, according to Fox 9.

Iowa

A newly introduced bill would increase speed limits on Iowa interstates from 70 m.p.h. to 75 m.p.h. for both passenger and commercial vehicles. You can click here to view bill SF 26.

California

Currently, California has a major speed differential for trucks. While speed limits in many areas are set for passenger vehicles at 65 or 70 m.p.h., commercial vehicle speed limits are set at 55 m.p.h. However, a new bill brought forward by Assemblyman Randy Voepel would increase the speed limit for trucks to 65 m.p.h. in rural areas.

You can click here for more on AB172.

Indiana

A lawmaker in Indiana are also considering eliminating the speed differentials that currently keep trucks over 26,000 pounds at 65 m.p.h. while cars are allowed to travel at 70 m.p.h.

The introduction of is the third legislative attempt by Rep. Mike Aylesworth to eliminate speed differentials. You can click here to follow HB 1092, which has been referred to the House Roads and Transportation Committee.

Missouri

A newly introduced bill would raise maximum speed limit on rural interstates and freeways of the state from 70 to 75 m.p.h. for both passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles. For more on HB295, you can click here.

North Dakota

North Dakota lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would increase speed limits for both cars and trucks. The bill, known as HB1264, would increase the speed limit on highways to 75 m.p.h. and on the interstate to 80 m.p.h.

Oklahoma

Lawmakers in Oklahoma are considering legislation that would increase speed limits for all vehicles on the Oklahoma Turnpike from 75 m.p.h. to 80 m.p.h.

Oregon

A newly proposed bill would allow transportation officials in Portland to choose speed limits for the city’s roadways rather than allowing the Oregon Department of Transportation to set those speeds. For more on HB2702, click here.

New list of state and local idling regulations can help truckers avoid hefty fines

One Utah town has updated their rules to allow for only one minute of idling with a fine of up to $750.

This week, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released an updated list of state and local idling regulations to help truckers avoid costly fines.

The ATRI’s updated list of idling regulations rules features newly enacted regulations for six cities as well as a complete list of already existing idling regulations.

Two of the most eyebrow-raising new idling regulations include:

  1. Madison, Wisconsin — Five-minute idling limit with limited exemptions, one of which is if the temperature is less than 20ºF or more than 90ºF. Fines for violation can range from $25 to $200.
  2. Sandy City, Utah — One-minute idling limit with limited exemptions. Violators will be given up to three warnings before a citation not exceeding $750 can be issued.

“Even though enforcement tends to vary among jurisdictions, with areas such as California and New York City being more active, the regulations highlight communities that are concerned about emissions from idling vehicles,” explained Mike Tunnell, ATRI’s Director of Environmental Research.

“We urge trucking companies to be aware of these regulations not only to comply and avoid fines but to be good neighbors in the communities in which they operate,” Tunnel added.

You can view the updated list of idling regulations below.

You can visit the ATRI’s website directly to view a more comprehensive version of the list above.

FMCSA tells trucking companies they can ignore California rest break rules

The FMCSA says that California’s meal and rest break rules cut down on truck driver productivity by 3%.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has said that carriers don’t need to comply with the state of California’s “extra rules” for truck driver meal and rest breaks, arguing that they cut down on productivity and that they hurt the economy.

On December 21, the FMCSA announced that they have granted a petition from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and other trucking groups asking for permission to preempt State of California’s Meal and Rest Break (MRB) rules in favor of federal hours of service regulations.

The FMCSA ruling definitively states that “California may no longer enforce the MRB Rules with respect to drivers of property-carrying CMVs subject to FMCSA’s HOS rules.”

The ruling overturned a 2014 decision from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which found that truckers working in the state of California were subject to that state’s MRB rules.

The California break rules required employers to provide drivers with a 30-minute meal break for every five hours worked in addition to a paid 15-minute break every four hours. Per California law, an employer who fails to provide employees with these breaks is required to pay that employee for an extra hour of work at his or her usual pay rate.

The FMCSA says that they are granting the petition “to ensure uniform and consistent rules in order to promote safety and economic growth.”

The FMCSA also makes the case that inconsistent truck driver break rules harm the economy:

“California’s extra rules reduce productivity and are a drag on the economy. For example, FedEx stated that “California rules have resulted in a costly loss to driver productivity,” and the National Retail Federation explained that a member company reported that due to the MRB rules, the company’s drivers in California had a 3% reduction in productivity compared to drivers in the balance of the country, which cost the company $1.5 million annually. Every bit of loss productivity increases costs to consumers and hurts hard-working American families.”

Aside from the ATA, other agencies that supported the petition include the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association, Western States Trucking Association, and the Oregon Trucking Associations.

The FMCSA says that they reviewed 700 comments on the California MRB rules and that approximately half were for the petition and half were opposed to the petition.

FMCSA to allow trucks to replace rear-view mirrors with cameras

Replacing mirrors with cameras could cut down on driver fatigue because it will require “less head movement by drivers,” say manufacturers.

This week, the Federal Motor Safety Association (FMCSA) approved a request that will allow trucks to operate with their two rear-vision mirrors replaced by camera technology.

On December 26, the FMCSA announced that they have approved a request for a regulation exemption from Stoneridge Inc., a company that specializes in manufacturing electronics for commercial vehicles.

The five-year exemption will allow any commercial vehicle to operate with Stoneridge’s after-market MirrorEye Camera Monitor System (CMS) instead of the two rear-vision mirrors required by federal law. The FMCSA found that “use of the MirrorEye system in lieu of mirrors would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety provided by the [rear-vision mirror] regulation.”

FMCSA documents describe the camera system as consisting “of multiple digital cameras mounted on the exterior of the CMV and enclosed in an aerodynamic package that provides both environmental protection for the cameras and a mounting location for optimal visibility.”

When petitioning for the camera system earlier this year, Stoneridge told the FMCSA that the Mirror Eye camera system would provide truck drivers with a host of benefits, including greater field of view and the elimination of blind spots. Stoneridge even claimed that trucks equipped with their camera systems would get better fuel economy than trucks with rear-view mirrors because their system was more aerodynamic.

Stoneridge also told the FMCSA that their camera system will could cut down on driver fatigue because it will require “less head movement by drivers compared to the number of head movement needed to use conventional mirrors.”

Some trucking companies like Schneider and J.B. Hunt have already been using the MirrorEye camera system in addition to rear-view mirrors. Both companies have reported “overwhelmingly” positive experiences for drivers using the camera system.

You can see the MirrorEye video system in action in the video below.

County bans Jake Brakes, but sheriff says he won’t enforce it

“I’d much rather see our Deputies working drug interdiction on the Interstate, patrolling the rural communities than be concerned over a Jake Brake issue,” said the county’s sheriff.

This week, an Iowa county voted to ban the use of Jake brakes on certain roadways, but one official believes that the ban is “unenforceable.”

After numerous complaints from residents, officials in Woodbury County passed an ordinance on Tuesday, December 18, forbidding the use of engine compression brakes, or Jake brakes, on Highway 75, Highway 20, and several smaller county roads.

Specifically, the ordinance forbids truck drivers from using any braking system that “results in excessive, loud, unusual or explosive noise.”

The fine for violating the ordinance is $100.

While residents annoyed by the noise of Jake brakes are pleased with the new ordinance, one county official says that he isn’t a fan.

When the ordinance was proposed last month, Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew took to Twitter to express his exasperation with the Jake brake ban.

Drew wrote:

“Oh please! Who is enforcing an unenforceable ordinance? What will determine writing the citation, because we hear a jake brake! I’m throwing the flag on that one! Least of our worries!”

Dave Drew@SheriffDaveDrew

Drew also told Iowa Public Radio that he believes that his county’s resources would be wasted in policing truck drivers and their Jake brake usage:

“I’d much rather see our Deputies working drug interdiction on the Interstate, patrolling the rural communities then [sic] be concerned over a Jake Brake issue. I have no plans to purchase a decibel meter to determine if that trucks noise is to [sic] loud, the courts are the ultimate ones to decide if that noise is too loud.”

Woodbury County officials will start posting signs for the new Jake brake ban starting in early 2019.