The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently advanced five bills to address some trucking and supply chain challenges, including truck parking, commercial driver licensing, and some weight limit exemptions.
“The comprehensive and bipartisan bills that advanced today would address some of the root causes of ongoing supply chain challenges and improve the overall safety, efficiency, and resiliency of freight transportation,” said ATA president and CEO Chris Spear.
Details on the five trucking bills that advanced are:
The Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act
According to ATA, there is currently only one parking spot for every eleven truck drivers on the road and drivers spend an estimated 56 minutes every day looking for a safe place to park. The association reports providing drivers with access to safe parking spots at night and for rest breaks mandated by federal hours-of-service rules would increase highway safety, improve supply chain efficiency, improve the quality of life for drivers, and make fulfilling careers in trucking more attractive to a new generation of truckers.
Dave Wiliams, Truckload Carriers Association chairman and senior vice president of Knight-Swift Transportation, said this action can have a positive impact on trucking.
“TCA applauds the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s approval of H.R. 2367, the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, aimed at addressing the critical shortage of truck parking. This positive outcome represents a significant step forward in enhancing driver safety, ensuring compliance with federal regulations, and improving the operational efficiency of the trucking industry,” Williams said.
The LICENSE Act
The Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently Act of 2022 will make permanent two DOT waivers that provide flexibility for the licensing of qualified new drivers to meet trucking’s workforce needs.
ATA said these waivers improve the application process for individuals seeking commercial driver’s licenses by allowing skills test examiners to also administer the CDL knowledge test and administer a driving skills test to any applicant regardless of the applicant’s state of domicile or training.
The waivers were extended multiple times with no findings of adverse safety impacts by both the Trump and Biden administrations during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports ATA.
The CARS Act
ATA said the bill would provide a 10% weight tolerance specifically for stinger-steered automobile transporters.
“A weight tolerance for automobile transporters, which are hauling heavier hybrid and electric passenger cars to market, would enable these vehicles to maximize the use of their equipment to get clean cars to auto dealers,” states the ATA. “Without exceeding federal bridge weight limits, this bill would reduce the number of miles traveled by heavy-duty trucks that must now complete multiple trips because they are unable to fully load their equipment due to current weight limits.”
The TCA, however, stands in opposition to the CARS Act.
“The bill addresses the increasing weight of newer vehicles by allowing a 10% weight increase for certain types of automobile transporters. However, we remain concerned about the potential consequences of infrastructure and roadway safety that could arise from such weight increases,” Williams said.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has voiced opposition to the CARS Act and H.R. 3372, which intends “to establish a safety data collection program for certain 6-axle vehicles, and for other purposes.”
“We reject the notion that the only way to determine if heavier trucks are safe is by unleashing them on our roads through the poorly designed, unrestricted pilot program that this legislation allows. The Department of Transportation, civil engineers, and drivers have long agreed that heavier trucks pose demonstrable risks to motorists and harm to infrastructure,” said John Murphy, Teamsters Freight Division director; and Avral Thompson, Teamsters Carhaul Division director, in a statement.
The Dry Bulk Weight Tolerance Act
The bill, according to ATA, would allow a 10% weight tolerance for dry bulk carriers to allow for the shifting of cargo, in vehicles loaded at or below federal weight limits, during transit.
The association said this flexibility would increase the efficient movement of dry bulk cargo, including agricultural goods, and would ensure that companies moving those goods are not unfairly penalized due to the shifting weights due to braking and other standard events on our highways.
The bill would provide a 2,000-pound weight exemption to hydrogen-powered vehicles like the exemption currently enjoyed by both battery-electric and natural gas-powered heavy-duty trucks. ATA said this legislation would reduce emissions while restoring technology- and fuel-neutrality in federal regulations for companies investing in new, cleaner heavy-duty vehicles.
Updated 5/26/2023 11:52 EDT to add comments from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.