Legislative News

Arkansas Sanctions Higher Speeding Fines for Truckers

House bill 1842 was approved by the Arkansas Senate on April 7, and was then forwarded it to Gov. Mike Huckabee for his signature. OOIDA lobbied against the bill, and did succeed in diluting the penalties. OOIDA Vice-president Todd Spencer testified against the bill in two separate hearings, and legislators received letters and phone calls from hundreds of Arkansas truckers. As a result, legislators backed down from the initial proposal that called for speeding fines that started at $500 for six miles over the posted speed limit.

The passage of this bill means that truckers nailed for speeding will pay $50 for each mile in excess of five mph over the posted speed limit. This fine will be in addition to all other fines and court costs levied for the violation, which can sometimes run into the hundreds of dollars. The bill does not differentiate between speeding on interstates or surface streets. In the case of rural interstate highways, it means that truckers can be penalized for moving with the flow of traffic.

"While we're pleased that lawmakers lowered the level of fines," says Spencer, "we are adamantly opposed to the legislation because truckers are specifically singled out for speed enforcement that may not have anything to do with highway safety. If a truck is traveling at 71 mph on an interstate highway and traveling with the flow of traffic, that's the safest thing he or she can do. It's ironic that the supporters of this legislation are trucking companies that pay their drivers by the mile."

Spencer added, "Truckers made a real difference in this legislation. Even though we were not successful in killing the bill, the many truckers who called or wrote to lawmakers should congratulate themselves on a job well done."

Indiana Bill Designed to Penalize "Me First" Drivers

SB 210, authored by Sen. Allie Craycraft is headed for the governor's desk. The bill will make it illegal to pass another vehicle in a construction area once a sign indicating a lane closure has directed a motorist to merge into another lane. This bill is designed to facilitate the flow of traffic in construction areas by penalizing those drivers who wait until the very last second to merge, a source of intense frustration to truckers and other courteous motorists. The new law will take effect on July 1, 1999.

SB 231, that would have limited trucks to the right lane in Howard County (and possibly other jurisdictions), failed to make it out of the Committee on Transportation and Interstate Cooperation before the legislative deadline.

SB 522, that would have exempted intrastate drivers from federal requirements for minimum distant binocular visual acuity, failed to make it out of the Committee on Transportation and Interstate Cooperation.

SB 99, that would have made continuous travel in the left lane of a multi-lane roadway illegal if it impeded the flow of traffic, died in committee.

New Mexico Anti-Trucker Bills Fail

Sen. Skip Vernon's attempts to restrict trucks to the right-hand lane failed to make it out of committee. Rep. Ron Godbey's bill to significantly raise the speeding fines for trucks is also dead.

Georgia Bill Would Make Exception for Third Lane Use

HB 685, sponsored by Rep. Bohannon, was approved by the Transportation Committee, but did not make it to the House floor for a vote. The bill would allow a truck to be in the left lane of a highway with three or more lanes in each direction if "necessary in an emergency or for safe operation to avoid a road hazard." HB 685 will be sent back to the Transportation Committee for consideration in the 2000 legislative session.

Missouri Speeding Fine Bill Tabled

HB 444 passed the Missouri House on Feb. 17. For now, the bill has been tabled by the Senate Transportation Committee, and no further action is expected. The bill calls for fines of $100 per mile for every mile per hour a trucker exceeds 75 mph in a 70 mph zone. The same piece of legislation would penalize drivers doing less than 70 mph in the left lane of a highway with a 70 mph posted speed limit. The trucker would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $1,000 and as much as a year in jail.

Oklahoma Bill Passes House

SB 1 calls for first-time trailer registration fees to increase from $40 to $100, the annual renewal fee to increase from $4 to $20, and the elimination of the excise tax on vehicles with a GVW of 54,000 pounds or greater. The excise tax will be replaced with a three and one-quarter percent tax rate. The bill has passed both houses and has been assigned to a conference committee to work out the differences.

Louisiana Addresses "No Passing" on Bridges, Blowing Scales

HB 58 would make it illegal for a truck to pass any other vehicle on any bridge or elevated roadway anywhere in the state (in Louisiana, that covers a lot of territory). The bill, authored by Rep. Arthur Morrell, has been assigned to the Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works.

Any trucker who blows by a state weigh station will pay a hefty $2,000 fine if Rep. Charles Hudson has his way. HB 36 is in the Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works.

New York Bill Asks for Higher Fines for Trucks

A. 2356, introduced by Assemblyman David Gantt, calls for increasing speeding fines for trucks exceeding the state's 65 mph speed limit on the Thruway system. The bill has been assigned to the Transportation Committee. The general information numbers for the New York legislature is (Senate) 518-455-2800 and (Assembly) 518-455-4100.

Nebraska Will Consider Higher Fines for Interstate Speeding

LB 16, introduced by Sen. George Coordsen, calls for higher speeding fines for all vehicles violating the 75 mph speed limit on Nebraska interstates. If the bill passes, fines for one to five mph over the posted limit will increase from $10 to $50, six to 10 mph over the posted limit will increase from $25 to $100, 11 to 15 mph over the posted limit will increase from $75 to $150, and 16 to 20 mph over the posted limit would increase from $125 to $200. A maximum fine of $300 would be imposed on violators exceeding the speed limit by 21 mph and more.