Louisiana laws address multiple truck issues

October 16, 2019

Keith Goble

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New laws in Louisiana are intended to address truck issues that include federal rules, insurance and width restrictions.

The first law brings the state into full compliance with the Performance Registration Information Systems Management program.

Passage of SB47 allows the state to deny or suspend registration for motor carriers under a federal out-of-service order. Adoption of the rule is expected to affect five to six carriers annually.

October 2020 is the deadline for states to meet the requirement without risking the loss of federal grant money for truck enforcement efforts. More than 40 states have acted to become fully compliant ahead of the deadline.

Failure to adopt the rule would have put Louisiana in jeopardy to lose out on about $5 million yearly of federal grants.

Commercial vehicle insurance

A separate new law addresses another of several truck issues. It is intended to help reduce the cost of commercial vehicle insurance.

Previously SB212, the new rule adds a requirement that insurers of commercial vehicles annually disclose their rates. The information would not be identifiable by insurance company.

Sen. Conrad Appel said the rule covers vehicles with gross weights in excess of 26,000 pounds, and hazardous materials haulers.

Data will be used to compile information to provide to the state’s insurance commissioner and the state Legislature. The rule has a five-year sunset.

Critics say insurance providers already must file rate information with the state. They say the new rule is duplicative, and will require additional costs for insurance companies to compile and format the requested information.

Advocates say the new rule includes a requirement for rate disclosure by ZIP code and parish.

“It’s an effort to make this data available to the public in a manner that has not been there before,” Appel previously testified.

Failure for insurance companies to comply with the rule would result in a $10,000-per-month fine. Revenue from fines would be deposited into the state’s General Fund.

Sen. Gerald Long, R-Winnfield said the rule is necessary to help small business operators.

“I live in a part of the state our people who have commercial vehicles are struggling. We are trying to figure out how to keep small business operating from day to day,” Long said during a committee discussion. “The calls I get, I would say, 70% deal with the cost of insurance. We can literally choke small business to the point it can’t exist.”

The information will be collected starting Jan. 1.

Truck width restrictions

Another new law is intended to benefit loads that include manufactured housing. Specifically, it allows the state’s transportation secretary to allow vehicles wider than 16 feet to access interstates.

State law has prohibited affected vehicles from using interstates.

Sen. Patrick Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, said the new law does not require the secretary to grant approval. He said a request can be denied if the proposed route would endanger the public due to construction, highway conditions, or traffic.

“This came about because there were wide vehicles required to take non-interstate highways, which are much smaller, and accidents started occurring,” Cortez previously testified.

Previously SB163, the new law allows the secretary to determine when affected vehicles can use interstates and which route can be taken.

Private escorts, or state police escorts, still are required for affected vehicles.

Joshua Hollins with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development told legislators it is common for loads that may be 18 feet or 20 feet do not have the ability to apply for a permit for the interstate. As a result, he said they are on two-lane roads.

He said it is a real safety concern.

Other Louisiana news regarding truck issues

In previously reported coverage of the Louisiana statehouse, state highway officials can now designate a lane for high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

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.