Your Nov. 23 Pre-Trip: Highway amendment to block trucker labor suits

Here are five things worth knowing today:

1. An amendment to the highway bill that targets California labor laws would stop approximately 50 lawsuits brought by truck drivers against some of the nation’s biggest trucking companies, according to The Wall Street Journal. WSJ reports that Congress is currently debating the amendment, which would bar states from applying to rules that go beyond federal standards for driver pay. According to the report, thousands of drivers in California have sued their employers, claiming they are owed back pay for meal breaks and time spent loading and unloading. Wal-Mart, Swift Transportation and J.B. Hunt Transport Services are among the companies listed in the suits, WSJ said.

2. House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster said Congress needed one more short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund – from Nov. 20 through Dec. 4 – the AASHTO Journal reports. “This is the last extension – let me put an exclamation point on that,” Shuster said. AASHTO said that in order to get thr final bill through and to the president’s desk by Dec. 4, lawmakers on the House-Senate negotiating committee needed to complete its negotiations over differences between the House- and Senate-passed measures before they left for Thanksgiving recess. AASHTO has more.

3. Utah’s Department of Transportation coordinated field tests of a new vehicle-to-vehicle communication system for the trucking industry, Deseret News reports. The department teamed with Peloton Technology to demonstrate the system by using two semitrailers on I-80. The system allows trucks to platoon together and connect within about 40 to 60 ft. of each other and simultaneously brake, accelerate and react to road hazards up to 800 ft. away, according to the report. The technology is being tested to help improve truck safety and fuel efficiency. Deseret News has more.  

4. Driving in the U.S. reached 259.9 billion miles in September – the highest ever total miles, according to new data released by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. So far this year, driving in the U.S. reached 2.4 trillion miles, FHWA said. “Compared to the same month a year earlier, September 2015 was the largest single-month percentage gain – 4.3% – since January, which was up 4.9%,” according to the report. FHWA has more.

5. Michigan’s Department of Transportation is testing GPS technology in the southwestern part of the state to help the public track where snowplows are working this winter, M Live reports. The pilot program includes MDOT plow trucks in Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, Van Buren and St. Joseph counties. According to the report, the program will be evaluated in the spring for potential use across the state.

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