November 22, 2016 1:00 PM, EST

Pennsylvania Switches to Annual Inspections

Jimmy Emerson/Flickr

Pennsylvania trucking companies and the Pennsylvania Motor Carriers Association are celebrating in the wake of Gov. Tom Wolf's signing of pro-trucking legislation into law on Nov. 4.

The new law requires annual inspections instead of semi-annual inspections for large commercial trucks as had been the case in Pennsylvania. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all trucks to undergo FMCSA-certified inspections annually. Only California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland and New Hampshire require trucks to be inspected more often.

“It’s a very big victory for us,” said PMTA's assistant general manager, Dean Riland. “We really started focusing on this about six months ago. Some of our members have vehicles that are registered in Pennsylvania but are stationed in other states. So they had to bring those vehicles back to Pennsylvania twice a year just to get them inspected. We’ve heard from plenty of members who are happy about this, and we’re trying to wave the flag to non-members to let them know that PMTA spearheaded this change with the help of our members making calls to the Legislature. That’s what made the difference here.”

That’s apparently the case. 

“The enacted legislation means that the feedback shared by the trucking industry was heard in Pennsylvania,” Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokeswoman Alexis Campbell said. “We value the trucking industry’s feedback. These changes are expected to address certain hardships they otherwise experience in conducting their day-to-day business.”

H.R. Ewell, a bulk food carrier in East Earl, is one of the firms that joined with PMTA to make conducting their day-to-day business easier.

“Inspecting trucks on an annual basis instead of every six months is going to be a big help because we run in so many states,” H.R. Ewell President Calvin Ewell said. “There’ve been times where we’ve gotten close to not getting some trucks back in time for a six-month inspection. We’ll be saving approximately $125 per year per truck. At 205 trucks, that equals a savings of $25,625 per year.”

H.R. Ewell joined with other carriers to employ lobbyists to push state legislators over the past two years to make the change in inspections.

“I was getting so tired of the six-month inspections that I was looking to register trucks in other states,” Ewell explained. 

Pennsylvania’s new trucking law also allows carriers to recoup prorated registration fees if their trucks are stolen or demolished.

“That’s a big issue for smaller fleets if a tag that cost a couple of thousand bucks is just sitting there dormant,” Ewell said. “Now they can give it back and receive the balance.”