Legislation targets catalytic converter theft | Another fuel-related HOS waiver

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Feb. 13, 2023:

Legislation introduced aimed at combating catalytic converter theft

Bills introduced in both chambers of Congress earlier this month would, if passed, ensure that law enforcement can more effectively address these thefts by marking each converter with a traceable identification number and establishing converter thefts as a criminal offense.

In the Senate, the legislation was introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), and in the House, the bill was introduced by Rep. Jim Baird (R-Indiana).

The Preventing Auto Recycling Thefts (PART) Act would require new vehicles to have a VIN number stamped onto the converter to allow law enforcement to link stolen parts to the vehicle from which they originated. It would also:

  • Create a grant program through which entities can stamp VIN numbers onto catalytic converters of existing vehicles
  • Improve record keeping standards for purchasers of used catalytic converters
  • Establish enforceability of laws around catalytic converter theft by codifying these crimes as a criminal offense

The bill has received support from the American Trucking Associations, the American Truck Dealers group and others.

[Related: Catalytic converter theft ring busted]

Gas pipeline disruption prompts hours of service waiver

A leak in a California gasoline pipeline last week that supplies gasoline and diesel to facilities in southern Nevada prompted Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo to declare a state of emergency, waiving hours of service requirements for truck drivers hauling gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline, according to Lombardo, supplies approximately 90% of the needed gas, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products to the Las Vegas Valley and surrounding areas. It was shut down last week due to a leak, but the company announced over the weekend that it had resumed operations.

Lombardo’s declaration waives the maximum driving time regulations in Part 395.3 of the hours of service regulations for fuel haulers in the state. Unless renewed, the declaration is effective through Feb. 25.

[Related: Another HOS waiver for fuel haulers]

Michigan frost law weight restrictions take effect

Michigan spring 2023 weight restrictionsMichigan's annual spring weight restrictions went into effect for the highlighted part of the state on Monday.MDOTThe Michigan Department of Transportation and local agencies are enacting typical "frost law" spring weight restrictions, an annual move the department said is necessary to protect roads.

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Effective as of 6 a.m. Monday, Feb. 13, weight restrictions are imposed and enforced on all state trunkline highways from the Michigan/Indiana and Michigan/Ohio state lines north to and including M-55 from the intersection with U.S. 31 in Manistee, then east on M-55 to the intersection with M-66 in Missaukee County, then north on M-66 to the intersection with M-55 in Missaukee County, then east on M-55 to the intersection with U.S. 23 in Tawas City. 

According to a statement from MDOT, when roads that have been frozen all winter begin to thaw from the surface downward, melting snow and ice saturate the softened ground. During the spring thaw, the roadbed softened by trapped moisture beneath the pavement makes it more susceptible to damage. This contributes to pothole problems already occurring due to this winter's numerous freeze-thaw cycles.

In the restricted areas, the following will apply:

  • On routes designated as "all-season" (designated in green and gold on the MDOT Truck Operators Map), there are no reductions in legal axle weights
  • On routes designated as "seasonal" (designated in solid or dashed red on the MDOT Truck Operators Map), there is a posted weight reduction of 25% for rigid (concrete) pavements and 35% for flexible (asphalt) pavements
  • All extended permits will be valid for oversize loads in the weight-restricted area on the restricted routes. Single-trip permits will not be issued for any overweight loads or loads exceeding 14 feet in width, 11 axles and 150 feet in overall length on the restricted routes.

MDOT said it determines when weight restrictions begin each spring by measuring frost depths along state highways, observing road conditions, and monitoring weather forecasts. Weight restrictions remain in effect until the frost line is deep enough to allow moisture to escape and the roadbeds regain stability.

County road commissions and city public works departments put in place their own seasonal weight restrictions, which usually, but not always, coincide with state highway weight restrictions. Signs are generally posted to indicate which routes have weight restrictions in effect.

[Related: How to navigate 'frost laws' in northern states]

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