This week, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin vetoed a bill that was written in response to a weather incident and crashes that left hundreds of drivers stranded on I-95 for 24 hours in January.
On April 11, 2022, Youngkin vetoed Senate Bill 706.
Initially, the bill would have restricted CMVs to the right lane of any roadway with two or more lanes during winter weather conditions. The final version of the bill removed the lane restriction language but added a provision to prohibit truck drivers from using cruise control and compression release brakes during snow, sleet, or freezing rain.
The final version of the bill also included a provision forbidding law enforcement from stopping a truck for violating the cruise control and compression release brake ban.
The bill was introduced by Sen. David Marsden 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.
Youngkin issued a memo explaining his reasons for vetoing the bill:
Specifically, this bill is intended to prevent a traffic crisis such as the one that occurred on Interstate 95 on January 3, 2022 where semi-trailer trucks were immobilized by icy conditions, which prevented first responders from rescuing stranded motorists. However, the provisions of this bill would not prevent a similar incident from occurring. According to a report sponsored by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Virginia State Police, neither cruise control nor compression release brakes were found to have contributed to the traffic crisis.
Additionally, this bill excludes enforcement mechanisms to support its provisions, except for a secondary offense only provable by after-incident data. Consequently, this bill would impose burdens on Virginia’s trucking industry, as well as interstate transportation, without any demonstrable public safety or transportation benefit. More broadly, the Code of Virginia should not be littered with traffic provisions that law enforcement is not authorized to enforce.
Accordingly, I veto this bill.