Virginia lawmaker nixes truck GPS requirement

March-April 2020

Keith Goble

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A Virginia state lawmaker is going back to the drawing board to address concerns about large trucks traveling on local roads.

Del. Terry Austin, R-Roanoke, filed a bill to mandate large vehicles be outfitted with a truck-specific GPS system. Specifically, HB170 would require any commercial vehicle in excess of 26,000 pounds to be equipped with the technology.

Austin wrote that GPS is necessary to help truck drivers avoid low overpasses, avoid prohibited roads, and to identify highways deemed suitable for truck travel.

As introduced, the bill required a GPS system for occasions a truck is operating on a roadway other than an interstate.

Trucking industry voices concerns

OOIDA communicated to Austin concerns about the bill that relies on GPS to guide professional drivers. The Virginia Trucking Association also opposed the bill.

OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer says that an “overwhelming majority of CMVs currently have some sort of GPS device.”

Although GPS devices are helpful for truck drivers traveling between points on the map, Spencer noted, “as with virtually any technology, they are not perfect.

“GPS devices are only as good as the information uploaded to them.”

The Association says truck driver training is the most effective way to guard against situations covered in the bill.

Delegate responds

Austin was responsive to concerns voiced by the trucking industry. He decided to drop pursuit of the legislation.

Spencer praised the legislator for his willingness to work with professional drivers to solve a problem.

“It’s not often in politics that you can oppose a legislative proposal and then have the bill sponsor call you to discuss your concerns, and basically agree to go back to the drawing board,” Spencer said. “But that’s exactly what Del. Austin has done, and we commend him for that.”

Mike Matousek, OOIDA manager of government affairs, said the actions of OOIDA members to voice concerns about the bill with the sponsor also played a role in the outcome.

“This is how grassroots advocacy is supposed to work,” Matousek said. LL

 

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.