OOIDA, Virginia lawmaker work together on GPS concerns



A Virginia state lawmaker is going back to the drawing board to address concern about large trucks traveling on local roads, and he has dropped a bill requiring truckers to use GPS systems.

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 “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

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association communicated to  Austin concerns about the bill that relies on GPS to guide professional drivers. The truckers group touts more than 3,000 Virginia members and thousands more who regularly operate on Virginia highways.

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 to concerns

Austin was quick to respond to concerns voiced by the trucking industry. He has since decided to drop pursuit of the legislation.

A spokesman for Austin’s office was not immediately available for comment.

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.

More Land Line coverage of news from Virginia is available.



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