This week, Virginia lawmakers moved forward with legislation drafted in response to a weather incident and crashes that left hundreds of drivers stranded on I-95 for 24 hours last month.
On Thursday, the Virginia Senate Transportation Committee advanced Senate Bill 706 by a vote of 10 to 5.
The bill would restrict CMVs to the right lane of any roadway with two or more lanes during winter weather conditions.
The author of the bill, Sen. David Marsden, expects the legislation to pass in the Senate by a close margin, according to Virginia Mercury.
Marsden says that the bill is his response to an interstate shutdown on I-95 in the Fredericksburg area that left many stranded in their vehicles for 24 hours or more beginning January 3. Many people were without food, water, or access to restroom facilities.
Earlier this week we experienced severe weather conditions in Virginia, which caused large trucks to slide and jackknife and resulted total blockages on I-95. I’m working on a bill to help avoid this problem in the future. 1/2
— Dave Marsden (@SenDaveMarsden) January 8, 2022
“Earlier this week we experienced severe weather conditions in Virginia, which caused large trucks to slide and jackknife and resulted total blockages on I-95. I’m working on a bill to help avoid this problem in the future,” Marsden said in a January 8 tweet.
Notably, a six semi truck pileup was reported January 3 on southbound I-95 at Exit 136 in the Stafford area, about 10 miles from Fredericksburg.
The state’s response to the situation drew ire from Virginia residents, some of whom said that government agencies failed to properly communicate. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Virginia State Police, and Virginia Department of Emergency Management are currently compiling a comprehensive timeline of events to determine what led to the lengthy interstate closure that stranded drivers.
VDOT said that initial reports indicate that “extreme weather conditions combined with disabled vehicles and multiple incidents were the primary factors contributing to the unprecedented blockages.”
Marsden plans to introduce the bill during the 2022 legislative session that begins on January 12.
Pennsylvania has a similar law in place that requires tractor trailers to remain in the right lane on roadways where the speed limit has been reduced due to hazardous weather conditions.