Driving News Roundup: April 28, 2017

In this week’s Driving News Roundup:

–SCOTUS rejects GM—

–FL DMV considers going driver’s license digital—

–MO has no Road Bill and Now Folks want no tolls—

–Moab Utah lowers speed limit to combat ATV noise—

–3000 miles of Portland, OR streets speed limits might be reduced soon–

Driving News Story of the Week

Bill for Speed Camera Pilot in San Francisco, San Jose Hits Roadblock
An attempt to create a pilot project that would place speed cameras on the streets of San Francisco and San Jose to test their effectiveness on traffic safety is on hold after encountering opposition — mostly from law enforcement groups. Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, withdrew the bill from consideration earlier this week prior to a scheduled vote in the Assembly Transportation Committee. AB 342 would have allowed the use of the enforcement devices on streets in San Jose and San Francisco in a five year experiment.

National Motorist News Watch

US Supreme Court rejects GM bid to block ignition switch suits
The justices declined to review a 2016 ruling by the New York-based 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals that rejected GM’s bid to block customer lawsuits related to crashes and diminished vehicle value because the plaintiffs had not been properly notified of the defect prior to the bankruptcy filing. The case involved a faulty ignition switch in GM vehicles linked to 124 deaths and 275 injuries. The switch could slip out of place, causing engine stalls while driving and cutting power to critical brakes, steering and air bag systems.

Transportation Drugged driving eclipses drunken driving in tests of motorists killed in crashes
For the first time, statistics show that drivers killed in crashes are more likely to be on drugs than drunk. Forty-three percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a legal or illegal drug, eclipsing the 37 percent who tested above the legal limit for alcohol, according to a report released Wednesday by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. Of the drivers who tested positive for drugs, more than a third had used marijuana and more than 9 percent had taken amphetamines.

Most Crash Reports Do Not Capture Drowsy, Drunk, Drugged and Distracted Driving
A National Safety Council review of motor vehicle crash reports from across the United States found no state fully captures critical data needed to address and understand the rise in roadway fatalities. Crash reports from all 50 states lack fields or codes for law enforcement to record the level of driver fatigue at the time of a crash, 26 state reports lack fields to capture texting, 32 states lack fields to record hands-free cell phone use, and 32 lack fields to identify specific types of drug use if drugs are detected, including marijuana. Excluding these fields limits the ability to effectively address these problems.

Protect Your Data from Skimmers at the Pump
Yes, every time you swipe that plastic, you are putting your identity and funds at risk, and the worst part about it? Thieves are letting you do the dirty work. The chip that most credit cards are equipped with now is one way to deter theft, but according to Jeff Rutledge, associate editor of LifeLock.com’s blog, gas stations are one of the businesses that have been granted extra time to upgrade their technology. So that means gas stations are even more of sitting ducks for thieves, more like comatose ducks with outdated tech, and will be at least until October 2020, thanks to Visa and Mastercard.

Automatic Traffic Enforcement

Oregon fines man $500 for using math to challenge red-light cameras
Few things in this world are as universally despised as traffic cameras. After his wife received a ticket for tripping a red-light camera, Oregon resident Mats Järlström openly criticized the Orwellian devices and the mathematical formulas these cameras use. It seems Big Brother doesn’t take too kindly to dissenters, as according to the Institute for Justice Järlström was fined $500 for violating a law that prohibits mathematical criticism without a license.

Corpus Christi, Texas red-light camera program ends
The nearly decade-long program that put red-light cameras at intersections around Corpus Christi has officially ended. The city’s red-light camera program officially ended Wednesday after a vote by the City Council in February pulled the plug.

Driver’s License Watch

Alaskans might need passport for flights, military base access
If state lawmakers don’t pass new legislation soon, Alaskans may not be able to use their state of Alaska driver’s license to fly or access military bases.

Giving driver’s licenses to those here illegally transformed many lives. Then came Trump
Over the last decade, California has taken several steps to bring immigrants without legal status into the mainstream, including healthcare for the young and financial aid for college students. But none of them has changed lives so profoundly and quickly as the driver’s licenses. Being able to drive without fear of arrests has given them access to more jobs and made them more confident drivers, they say.

Florida driver’s licenses considers going digital
Orange County handles 360,000 driver’s license transactions every year. The county could soon have software that allows drivers to update their addresses without having to go to the tax collector’s office.

Montana’s Real ID Compliance Comes with $4.6 Million Price Tag
An effort to make available a driver’s license for Montanans that complies with the federal Real ID Act comes with a price tag of up to $4.6 million that could be paid for initially with a loan.

Prepare to show more proof when you renew your NC license
North Carolinians will have the option beginning May 1 to get a driver’s license or identification card through the state Division of Motor Vehicles that complies with the more stringent standards of the federal REAL ID.

Airlines back effort for Pa. driver’s license compliance with REAL ID program
Don’t have a passport? Some airline executives are now involved in the push to ensure you can still board a plane without one. A dozen airline executives, FedEX and UPS all signed a letter backing an effort by Pennsylvania state officials to bring state driver’s licenses into compliance.

Two-Tier Driver License System Buys Time for Air Travelers Facing Secure ID Deadline
Washington state legislators appear to have bought extra time for travelers who use a standard driver’s license to pass through airport security. The Oregon Legislature is plodding down a similar path to make identity card security upgrades demanded by the federal government.

Driving in America

Can the police retaliate against a citizen for refusing to answer police questions?
In a new case, Alexander v. City of Round Rock, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit considers the following question: If the police pull over a driver and the driver indicates he will refuse to answer any police questions, does it violate the Constitution for the police to retaliate against the driver to punish him for refusing to answer their questions?

Five states pursue action on speed changes
Elected officials from coast to coast are discussing possible changes to speed limit rules. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says roadways are safest when all vehicles are permitted to travel at the same rate of speed.

Older-driver road tests cut crashes in Illinois
Illinois is the only state that currently has a road-test requirement for older drivers. The requirement applies to all drivers age 75 and older. All Illinois drivers 80 and younger must renew their licenses every four years, not eight like New York. Drivers 81 to 86 must renew every two years, while those 87 and older are required to renew annually. A road test is required for drivers 75 and older at renewal.

Michigan: New legislation aims to protect drivers at repair shops
President of the Automotive Service Association of Michigan Ray Fisher spoke to 24 Hour News 8 about how the Motor Vehicle Service Repair Act will affect consumers and repair facilities.

Missouri Ballot Measure Would Outlaw Toll Roads
Activists in Missouri are out gathering signatures in the hopes of permanently blocking all plans to impose tolls on existing freeways. State lawmakers have been trying for decades to erect toll booths on various routes, most recently securing federal approval to toll Interstate 70 under a deal that is set to expire on December 4. The group A Better Way Forward wants to amend the state constitution to prohibit such deals.

46,752 reasons to obey this New Jersey law
Are police enforcing the law against a behavior that drivers love to hate, vehicles hogging the left lane of a highway while a line of traffic backs up behind them? Driver complaints and safety concerns about that behavior prompted a state law change in 2013 to increase the penalty for left lane bandits. But one reader asked if those drivers are getting ticketed for failing to “stay right and pass on the left.”

A Municipal Vote in Providence, Rhode Island for Police Reform Carries National Implications
After three years of sustained community mobilization and advocacy, the Providence City Council in Rhode Island voted this Thursday to unanimously approve among the most visionary set of policing reforms proposed around the country to protect civil rights and civil liberties, including digital liberties. Electronic Frontier Foundation supported the proposed Community Safety Act (CSA), and its adoption represents a milestone that should prompt similar measures in other jurisdictions.

PennDOT records lowest amount of traffic deaths ever
PennDOT announced that, last year, traffic deaths in Pennsylvania have reached a record low.  Officials said this is the lowest amount of traffic deaths in the Commonwealth since record-keeping began in 1928.

Moab, Utah to lower speed limit to 20 mph on some streets in town
Spring is in the air and so is the rumble of ATVs. At last week’s regular meeting, the Moab City Council considered how to deal with numerous complaints from residents about the noise from ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) and UTVs (utility task vehicles). In response to the noise concerns, the council has asked city staff to lower speed limits on several streets in town. “Since the [state] Legislature decided to let ATVs and UTVs be on public roads, there have been some people concerned about the noise level. That’s how it all started,” said council member Rani Derasary.

Washington State: Shoulder driving on I-405 through Canyon Park starts Monday
Commuters will be able to drive on the shoulder of northbound I-405 through Canyon Park for the first time during the Monday evening commute. The Washington State Department of Transportation plans to open the new “peak-use shoulder lane” to general purpose traffic between Highway 527 and the I-5 interchange in Lynnwood, starting at 2 p.m. Monday.

Infrastructure Watch

Moody’s: US toll roads likely to fund infrastructure backlog
More recently, toll revenues have increased faster than state fuel taxes or motor vehicle fees as a source of transportation funding. In fiscal 2015, toll road operating revenues increased by 8.5% compared to fiscal 2014, while state fuel taxes and motor vehicles increased by 6.4% over the same time period. High growth, high income regions will see an uptick in tolling since these areas typically experience more traffic congestion and tolling growth has been more robust.

That 12 cent gas tax hike? Not enough to fix California’s roads, group says
A newly passed transportation funding bill that raises California’s gasoline tax by 12 cents a gallon isn’t a long-term fix for the state’s crumbling roads, according to a report released Monday, April 24, by a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank. Better fuel economy and the growing number of electric, hybrid and zero-emission vehicles make the gas tax an outmoded, unreliable funding source for transportation, states the report, “Beyond the Gas Tax: Funding California Transportation in the 21st Century,” put out by Next 10 in conjunction with Beacon Economics.

Colorado lawmakers’ grand bargain on transportation appears doomed
House Bill 1242 and Senate Bill 267, two top issues are on life support, their sponsors say.

Indiana road bill passes, heads to governor
Hoosiers should start smelling asphalt soon under a bill that passed the House and Senate very late last Friday night. The Republican-led legislature voted on a long-term road funding plan, giving $870 million in new money for state roads and $340 million for local infrastructure by 2024.

Buckle up: No major funding increase for fixing Missouri’s roads, bridges
Summer is approaching, a time when Missouri residents hit the road for a little rest and relaxation. It might be a rougher-than-expected journey, though, as legislators aren’t making transportation projects a priority during the 2017 session.

Gas tax bill heading to Montana Gov. Bullock’s desk
A bill to increase the state gas tax was sent to enrolling Saturday for its final preparation process before heading to Governor Steve Bullock’s desk for signing. The bill initially planned to raise the state gas tax by 8 cents a gallon, and diesel by a little more than 7 cents. A Senate panel trimmed those numbers down to an increase of 4.5 cents a gallon, and diesel tax up 1.5 cents. The increases are scheduled to begin this summer. The increase of tax will help pay for repairs on Montana highways and roads.

Flush with highway cash, Texas still looking for toll options
Texas is spending record amounts on transportation, but lawmakers worried it is not enough are considering extending a controversial program that’s helped spread tollways through some of the state’s largest areas. A bill approved this week by a House committee would give the Texas Department of Transportation a chance to add six additional projects.

Vision Zero Watch

Are red-light cameras working? Florida lawmakers, Vision Zero consider best practices for future
Legislators, local governments and law enforcement agencies across the state are seeking solutions rooted in better roadway design and engineering, education and traffic law enforcement to combat the crisis of public health on Florida streets that is outlined by the Pedestrian Danger Index.

3,000 miles of Portland, Oregon streets may get slower speed limits under new bill
House lawmakers on Monday voted to allow Portland officials to reduce speed limits on the city’s 3,000 miles of residential streets. House Bill 2682 comes after 44 people were killed in traffic accidents on Portland streets in 2016 — the deadliest year in more than a decade. The legislation allows the Portland City Council to adopt a resolution lowering residential street speeds from 25 mph to 20 mph.

The NMA Driving News Roundup is a regular feature on the NMA Blog, where we highlight some of the most interesting driving news stories of the week. If you have a story for Driving News, send the url via email to nma@motorists.org. Every other Sunday, catch the Car of the Future Roundup blog post.

Not an NMA Member yet?

Join today and get these great benefits!

Leave a Comment