The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration has modified its licensing and testing procedures for motorhome owners who want to obtain a noncommercial Class B license. This license is required of drivers whose motorhomes weigh more than 26,000 pounds.
The skills tests for motorhomes no longer include parallel parking or backing up to an alley dock, as mandated by the previous tests. In addition, at least 20 items were removed from the pretrip inspection for recreation vehicles.
The changes took effect November 9, 2007, and the revised RV testing began December 3.
Those who successfully complete testing for a noncommercial Class B license will receive a license containing the “J” restriction, denoting “Class B RV authorized only.”
Marylanders who currently hold a valid noncommercial or commercial Class C license and want to operate a motorhome that weighs 26,001 pounds or more are required to obtain a noncommercial Class B learner’s permit.
To obtain the learner’s permit, the applicant must take and pass a knowledge test consisting of 20 multiple-choice questions. A passing score of 85 percent is required.
The applicant must have the learner’s permit for at least two weeks before taking the skills tests. Passing a vision test also is required.
An appointment must be scheduled to take the skills tests. The skills tests consist of three components: a pretrip inspection, skills maneuvers, and a public road test. These tests have been modified for the issuance of the motorhome restriction.
For more information, contact the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration at (800) 950-1682; www.marylandmva.com.
Full-Time RVers’ Voting Rights
FMCA is adding its support to that of the American Civil Liberties Union and several RV owners organizations in helping to protect the voting rights of persons who reside full-time in their RVs.
The Associated Press reported on November 6, 2007, that 286 full-time RVers were purged from the voter rolls in Tennessee’s rural Bradley County over the past two years. The reason: they did not list a physical home address, only a mailbox service.
The Bradley County Election Commission has not permitted them to cast a ballot in local or national elections. The ACLU in Tennessee is challenging the action in federal court.
In a letter to the ACLU, Connie Pool, FMCA national president, stated, “Like you, we believe this is a breach of the constitutional rights of people who choose not to reside in a particular place, but rather enjoy touring the continent of North America via motorhome.”
Currently, there is no national voter registration policy for RVers. Voter residency rules can differ from state to state, even from county to county.
In letters to the Good Sam Club and the Escapees RV Club, both RV owners groups, Ms. Pool suggested it might be time to promote federal legislation to protect full-time RVers’ voting rights. It appears that the practice of dropping full-time RVers from voting rolls may be more widespread, she said, and not at all limited to one Tennessee county election official’s interpretation of the law.
In 2000 more than 9,000 full-time RVers who used a mail-forwarding service challenged their ineligibility to vote in a Texas county. A federal judge ruled in their favor.
New Hampshire Vehicle Registration
A bill pending in the New Hampshire legislature would allow residents to register their RVs in the state even if they do not have a stationary home address there.
Currently, drivers who register a vehicle in New Hampshire must have a physical address. That doesn’t bode well for full-time RVers and others who travel outside the state for an extended time, because many of them list their home address as that of a post office box or mail-forwarding service.
House Bill 45 would establish vehicle registration requirements for persons without a permanent street address at the time of re-registration. Those temporarily traveling out of the state in an RV could renew a vehicle registration by providing written attestations of residency from two adult citizens of the municipality. One of the attesting citizens must be willing to allow his or her mailing address to be used by the applicant for purposes of contact by the Division of Motor Vehicles.
HB 45 defines “residence” as intention to return to the municipality after a temporary absence.
The bill also calls for modifications to vehicle registration forms to allow for the use of mailing addresses that are not residential addresses.
In 2005, state representative Susan Almy introduced a similar bill that would have allowed RVers to re-register their vehicles in New Hampshire. The Transportation Committee relegated the bill for further study, and Almy reintroduced the bill in January 2007.
In January 2007, HB 45 was retained for further study by the House Transportation Committee. On November 5, 2007, the committee, by a vote of 13-0, referred the bill back to the House floor with an “inexpedient to legislate” recommendation. This is legislative jargon for suggesting that a bill be defeated. The House was scheduled to take up the recommendation on January 2, 2008.
A unanimous recommendation is routinely adopted, so the bill itself is unlikely to pass.
Concord, California, RV Parking
The city of Concord, California, is creating a task force to determine where residents should be allowed to park their RVs. The 11-member panel will have nine resident members “” including four who own RVs and four who do not “” and one tie-breaker. Two council members will round out the panel.
Following months of heated debate, city council on November 6, 2007, voted unanimously to appoint the panel to examine Concord’s regulations for parking in residential areas. An alternative would have been to push for a ballot initiative to decide the issue.
The 120-day task force is expected to send a recommendation to council in April 2008.
According to the Contra Costa Times, the RV parking issue surfaced this past June when city officials began receiving citizen complaints about blight. City staff was asked to start enforcing Concord’s latent RV parking ordinance. The existing law prohibits RV parking in driveways or on streets. RVs must be parked in a side yard behind a fence or in a backyard or storage facility. In response to the complaints, about 240 violation letters went out, the Times reported. The letters were later rescinded.
Residents argued that they have been allowed to park RVs in driveways for about 10 years, and that the new enforcement threatened their property rights. They may not have room in their yards, and because they own their driveways, they should be able to park their vehicles there, they said. Ample room for front-yard parking also was a concern.
City council planned to interview candidates for the task force through December (the deadline for applying was November 27). The first meeting was expected to be held in early January.
Concord is located 29 miles east of San Francisco.
Congress Increases Cafe Standards
By the year 2020 automakers must make more fuel-efficient vehicles, including those used for towing RVs, boats, all-terrain vehicles, and other sporting equipment.
President Bush signed House Resolution 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, into law on December 19, 2007. A centerpiece of the legislation is a requirement for automakers to increase their industrywide vehicle fuel efficiency. Passenger cars, SUVs, and small trucks must average 35 mpg, compared to today’s 25 mpg average, by 2020.
Congress has not changed the auto mileage requirement since the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards were first implemented in 1975. CAFE is important to the RV industry because it affects the type and availability of vehicles that can be used to tow RVs and other recreation equipment safely and legally.