California state senator wants speed limiters on all vehicles

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Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Jan. 29, 2024:

California bill would require speed limiters, side underride guards on trucks

A California state senator has introduced legislation that includes two provisions that will impact truckers based in the state.

Senate Bill 961, introduced by California Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) on Jan. 23, would require that every vehicle -- passenger vehicles, “motortrucks,” and buses -- manufactured or sold in the state be equipped with speed limiters that prevent the driver from exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour. Speed limiters under the bill would “only be capable of being temporarily disabled by the driver of the vehicle.”

The requirement would begin with the 2027 model year, should the bill pass and be signed into law. Emergency vehicles would be exempt from the requirement.

In addition to speed limiters, the bill would also require every “motortruck, trailer, or semitrailer” with a gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 pounds that is manufactured, sold or registered in California to be equipped with side underride guards. It would also require drivers of these vehicles “to conduct regular inspections of side guards for damage and functionality and to repair or replace damaged units as necessary.”

[Related: FMCSA Administrator grilled in Congress over speed-limiter mandate pursuit]

The bill defines side guards as a “lateral protection system” that provides “crash protection for a midsize car to prevent the intrusion of the occupant survival space when struck at any location and from any angle [at] any speed up to 40 miles per hour.” The guards would also be required to cover and protect “any exposed space between the front and rear wheels” of the included vehicles.

Both speed limiters and side underride guards, of course, are also under the microscope with potential mandates for carriers and manufacturers at the federal level. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is set to publish a rulemaking proposal at any time to require speed limiters on heavy-duty trucks.

Likewise, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last year published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, signaling it will forge ahead with rulemaking that would require trailers be equipped with side underride guards.

[Related: NHTSA's underride advisory committee to discuss rear, side, front underride crashes]

DOT announces $300M in grants for truck parking

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday announced more than $4.9 billion in funding for infrastructure projects from two federal grant programs.

The Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program funding for the latest round included more than $300 million for five truck parking projects across the country.

“The severe shortage of truck parking continues to rank among drivers’ highest concerns, which is why we appreciate that Secretary Buttigieg and a growing number of states are making these projects a top priority,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. â€śAmerica’s highways are our shop floor. When drivers finish their shift, they deserve to know that they will be able to find a safe place to sleep that night. These significant investments in expanding parking capacity along some of America’s busiest freight corridors will help reduce supply chain bottlenecks, alleviate stress on truck drivers and make the roadways safer for all motorists.”

The five truck parking projects that are receiving funding are:

  • $180,009,420 for the Florida Department of Transportation to add approximately 917 truck parking spaces across four sites along I-4 in Central Florida, which includes locations in Volusia County, Seminole County and Osceola Counties.
  • $92,883,609 for the Missouri DOT, which will fund three segments of a larger program to reconstruct 191 miles of I-70 across Missouri. The project includes new truck parking facilities and truck parking information systems.
  • $12,287,247 for a joint project between the Washington State, California and Oregon DOTs for a regional truck parking information management system at approximately 54 truck parking facilities along the I-5 corridor in the three states.
  • $8 million for the Wisconsin DOT  to reconstruct a Safety Rest Area located near Sparta, Wisconsin, along I-90. This project will expand truck parking from 16 to approximately 70 spots, replace deteriorated pavement, and construct a new modernized facility with ADA-compliant restrooms.
  • $40,798,046 for the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority to construct a consolidated multimodal cargo facility at Lehigh Valley International Airport with connectivity to the National Highway System. The facility will include a dedicated access road and intersection improvements; a cargo building; direct truck-to-aircraft loading operations area; and stormwater infrastructure enhancements. The project will also create a safe truck parking area, as an alternative to the current practice of parking off-site in unauthorized nearby locations.

[Related: Highway safety Senate hearing highlights truck parking shortage]