July 1 marks a day that will probably pass without much fanfare when it comes to trucking. Though a significant piece of legislation (Senate Bill 1229) goes into effect, the general public will probably not notice that vehicles that are permitted up to 129,000 pounds will be allowed to operate on the Interstate system in Idaho.
That is probably well and good. Why? Because work should continue on the negotiated rulemaking process that is being conducted in response to Governor Otter’s charge to “go beyond truck weights to include all relevant, professionally established and widely accepted operational standards.” A big production on the effective date of Senate Bill 1229 would just distract from what the public really does care about: safety.
The victory in getting the federal exemption from the 1991 freeze, and the subsequent adoption by the state of Idaho, shouldn’t keep carriers from staying involved on this issue. Continued support is needed to ensure safety concerns are addressed in ways that are implementable and that directly translate into safety results. This will ensure fairness and efficiency in the permitting process, especially since the Idaho Transportation Department is looking at all vehicles over 80,000: This is no longer just about 129,000 pound trucks.
There are 5 rules that have been drafted that are slated to go out for public comment in September. However, I strongly encourage everyone to at least read them, if not submit comments on them, by the deadline on July 8. All of the information you will need can be found at ITD Rulemaking.
These rules will be incorporated into the permitting process by the Idaho Transportation Department and enforced by the Idaho State Police – Idaho’s designated commercial vehicle safety agency. Though this has been done to a certain extent in the past, there has never been a concerted effort to clarify a carrier’s safety responsibilities through their overlegal permit.
Though you may already be subject to federal regulation, and though the public may not notice, we can all agree that safety is paramount to our industry. This process is taking place because of concerns over safety. Therefore, as the work continues to clarify the safety responsibilities of carriers through the permitting process, so should our participation.
Julie Pipal is the President/CEO of the Idaho Trucking Association