Highway bill amendment would raise carriers’ insurance minimums to $2 million

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, June 18, 2020:

Liability insurance increase amendment clears first hurdle
An amendment to the U.S. House’s Invest in America highway bill that would increase the liability insurance minimum requirements for carriers from $750,000 to $2 million cleared its first hurdle Wednesday, passing a vote for the rider to be included in the bill when it is sent to the full House floor.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Illinois), would also require the insurance minimum to be adjusted every five years for inflation. Last summer, Garcia co-sponsored legislation that would have increased minimum liability limits to nearly $5 million, but the bill never made it past the subcommittee level.

The amendment passed by a tally of 37-27 during a markup session in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. All voting representatives voted along party lines, with Democrats voting “yes” and Republicans voting “no” for the increase.

After the committee completes its markup, which has extended into Thursday due to a high number of proposed amendments, the full bill will be sent to the House floor for a vote. As Overdrive‘s James Jaillet wrote following the bill’s introduction, it faces an uphill battle if it clears the House and moves on to the Republican-controlled Senate. Trucking policy riders attached to the bill could still make their way into future iterations of a highway funding bill should this one die out in the Senate.

TA Petro continues re-opening full-service restaurants
The TravelCenters of America network of truckstops reports it has re-opened 18 full-service restaurants closed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic so far this week. Drivers can find the status of dine-in and takeout options at stops in the network via this link.

New safety measures are in place network-wide, the company said:

  • Buffets, soup bars and salad bars will be removed from full-service restaurants.
  • Disposable or limited-use menus will offer a reduced selection of food items.
  • Social distancing: Customers will be asked to keep six-feet distance wait in line or checking out. Tables will be properly distanced from one another.
  • You may not see ketchup, mustard, salt or pepper on the table — they’ll be available upon request.
  • Restaurant capacity may be limited.
  • Increased cleaning frequency of commonly touched surfaces will continue.
  • States and local jurisdictions may have different guidelines the company says it will comply with.
The winner of the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence program will receive a new Kenworth T680.The winner of the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence program will receive a new Kenworth T680.

Nomination period open for top rookie military veteran trucker award
The nomination period is now open for the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” program that recognizes America’s top military veteran rookie truck driver.

Fastport, Kenworth and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative are joining together for the fifth consecutive year to put on the program. The nomination deadline is July 31, 2020. Nomination forms can be found here.

The winner of the award will receive a new Kenworth T680 equipped with a 76-inch sleeper and a Paccar MX-13 engine with a Paccar 12-speed automated transmission and Paccar 40K tandem rear axles.

The top driver will be determined by a panel of judges. To qualify, drivers must meet four eligibility requirements:

  • Must have been active military or member of the National Guard or Reserve
  • Graduated from a trucking school that is PTDI-certified, or a member of the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools or Commercial Vehicle Training Association, and hold a valid CDL
  • Employed by a trucking company that has made a hiring commitment and pledge to hire veterans on the Trucking Track Mentoring Program website
  • First hired in a trucking position between Jan. 1, 2019, and July 31, 2020

Specialized haulers’ 30-minute break waiver extended
The Specialized Carriers & Riggers Association announced this week that the waiver from the 30-minute break for oversize and overweight carriers has been extended. The waiver was set to expire June 17, and the group says there will be no lapse in the the waiver’s coverage.

The exemption was first granted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in June 2015. SC&RA says the renewal extends the waiver through June 18, 2025.

The waiver applies to all specialized carriers and drivers responsible for oversize and overweight loads that require a government-issued permit.

Bandit Series truck race canceled for weather
The Bandit Big Rig Series announced in a Facebook post Thursday morning it has canceled this weekend’s race at Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, due to the threat of inclement weather. Series organizers say the weather forecast for Saturday, June 20, in Cedar Rapids is unfavorable for racing.

Fans who purchased a virtual event pass for $9.99 to stream the race live will receive an email about getting a refund, organizers say.

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