In the mid-2000’s, a significant problem with over-height vehicles trying to travel through the westbound tube of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel received a lot of attention in the media and the General Assembly. At that time, VDOT was experiencing over 100 truck turnarounds a month at the HRBT. The turnarounds occurred because drivers ignored several warnings that their vehicles were over-height and proceeded past the inspection station to the south island where they had to be stopped and turned around. When an over-height truck has to be turned around, police have to stop traffic in both directions, which backs up traffic and creates significant congestion that increases accidents, delays and frustration among the region’s motorists, including perhaps your drivers.

To try to get drivers to obey the over-height warnings, the General Assembly enacted legislation creating a $1,000 mandatory minimum fine, a $2,500 mandatory minimum fine for subsequent offenses, and assessment of three driver demerit points for convictions of violating the height restrictions at a tunnel. This new law resulted in decreased violations and turnarounds for several years.

However, last year there was a significant increase in the number of violations and turnarounds, from a low of 47 in May 2014 to 107 in November 2014. In response, legislation has been introduced that proposes to shift responsibility for the $1,000 mandatory minimum fine for the first offense and the $2,500 mandatory minimum fine for any subsequent offense from the driver to the owner of the vehicle. In addition, the bill would require that only the owner of any vehicle exceeding the prescribed maximum height be fined and held financially responsible for any damage caused to overhead bridges or structures.

Assuming that drivers for members of the Tidewater Motor Truck Association frequently travel through the westbound tube of the HRBT, the VTA would like to hear about any experiences you have had with your vehicles being over-height at the HRBT as well as any ideas or input you have as we work with VDOT and the State Police to try to come up with a reasonable and effective approach to resolving this serious issue.

Please send your information and comments to Dale Bennett at dbennett@vatrucking.org. Because the legislative process moves very quickly, we would like to receive your information and comments as soon as possible.

SOURCE: Dale Bennett – Virginia Trucking Association

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