Senate Panel to Hear Transportation Bills


 UPDATED:
12/9/2011 10:30:00 AM
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The Senate Commerce Committee has set Dec. 14 to hear three bills introduced this week as part of the two-year transportation reauthorization package moving through the Senate.

One of the bills, introduced Wednesday, would require electronic on-board recorders on all trucks and buses within a year of the measure passing.

The bill would also make it harder for a carrier shut down for violations to “reincarnateâ€� under a new name. In addition, it would require new “applicant motor carriersâ€� to demonstrate knowledge of safety regulations through written exams.

“We must do more to make sure large trucks and buses are not a threat on our roadways and are only operated by the most qualified drivers,� said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)

Lautenberg sponsored the bill along with Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

The same bill would also require the U.S. Department of Transportation to study the impact of detention time on truck driver hours to determine if the time shippers detain drivers “contributes to drivers violating hours of service requirements and [to] driver fatigue.�

Another study would have to be conducted on the impact that oversize, overweight trucks have on everything from accident rates to bridge failures in the states that allow trucks to exceed federal size and weight restrictions on portions of the National Highway System.

The other two bills introduced last week would reauthorize two other agencies overseeing surface transportation: the Research and Innovative Technology Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The PHMSA bill would require development of a paperless hazard communication system between all parties in the transportation chain, along with emergency responders and law enforcement personnel.

That bill also would require DOT to adopt regulations within two years establishing uniform procedures for the safe loading and unloading of hazardous materials on and off tank rail cars and cargo tank trucks.

Four Senate committees — Commerce, Banking, Finance and the Environment and Public Works Committee — have jurisdiction over various portions of any reauthorization bill.

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