Driving News Roundup: March 31, 2017

In this week’s Driving News Roundup:

–Ford Recalls 2 different vehicles—

–Grand Rapids wants to use ALPRs for parking—

–MO Gov says Trump will intervene on Real ID—

–KS Court clears man of Stoplight Burnout–

Driving News Story of the Week

AB 342, bringing speed cams to California, has been tabled for now
AB 342 opponent from Safe Streets L.A. Jay Beeber says he worries that the bill could even be amended to include Los Angeles in the pilot program. For now, however, lead-footed Angelenos are safe: The bill appears to have stalled in the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee (but according to Chiu’s office, it will be back with possible amendments on April 18).

National News

IIHS under Fire for Unauthorized Speed Cameras due to NMA Investigation
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in Greene County recently got into some trouble with the state. IIHS put speed cameras along some roads in Virginia, but did not have permission to do it. The cameras were part of a study that focused in on drivers in Northern Virginia, so drivers in central Virginia were likely not photographed.

Ford says it will spend $295 million on two new recalls
Ford Motor Company, the second largest U.S. automaker, on Wednesday announced two new recalls affecting 440,000 vehicles and expects to spend about $295 million to fix the issues. The recalls include 211,000 vehicles in North America to replace potentially faulty side door latches and 230,000 vehicles for under-hood fire risks. Ford said it has reports of 29 fires but no injuries.

Transportation Advocates to Trump: Where’s the Money?
One of President Trump’s most popular promises has been his oft-repeated pledge to spend $1 trillion in infrastructure improvements. While he has never given much detail about how he’d do that, the idea was enough to give hope to local officials, state highway departments and transit agencies. But those hopes are beginning to dim.

Automatic Traffic Enforcement 

Montgomery, AL’s red-light cameras survive committee vote
The Montgomery County House delegation split 3-3 Tuesday along party lines on a bill that would have abolished red-light cameras in the city of Montgomery. The tie means the bill does not advance out of committee.

Grand Rapids, Michigan looks at license plate readers for parking
The rapid pace of developing technology is helping government streamline operations — but in many cases, it’s also raising concerns over whether your privacy is protected. The latest example is the City of Grand Rapids’ effort to deploy a system to help better enforce parking rules. The Parking Services Department wants to buy a license plate reader system use to find parking violators. With 10 parking ramps, 33 surface lots and 2,700 metered spots, parking enforcement officers have a lot to keep up with.

Missouri House taking another shot at red-light camera ban
Missouri voters may yet get their chance to ban cities from using red-light cameras under a measure given initial approval in the House Wednesday. Wentzville Republican Rep. Bryan Spencer’s second attempt in as many years to ban the cameras, which provided a controversial source of revenue for some St. Louis-area cities, would put the ban on ballot this November.

NC Lawmaker supports new license plate reader bill
Law enforcement agencies would be able to place automated license plate reader devices in state rights of way under a proposed NC bill.

Mt. Carmel, Tennessee speed cameras expire due to state law
In just a few days, two controversial speed cameras on a busy stretch of highway 11W in Mount Carmel will be permanently deactivated. That’s thanks to a Tennessee law banning unmanned cameras as their contracts expire.

Texas Senate Passes Bill Allowing School Bus Cameras
The Texas state Senate on Wednesday followed the lead of Ohio and used a bill promoted as “banning” red-light cameras as a vehicle to authorize a new form of photo enforcement. Those watching Wednesday’s session live could be forgiven for not noticing the lightning-quick shift in which the bill’s sponsor, state Senator Bob Hall (R-Canton), spoke about camera enforcement as a hazard to both public safety and constitutional rights — just before he quietly informed the Senate’s presiding officer that he accepted an amendment allowing the installation of ticketing cameras on school buses.

Driver’s License Watch 

Real ID could become an issue for Alaskans in June
If Alaska fails to become compliant with the Real ID Act, it will affect more than being able to board a plane. Those wishing to gain entry to federal facilities, including military bases, will also be impacted.

Committee votes to end Maine’s opposition to Real ID
A legislative committee voted last Friday to bring Maine identification cards into compliance with federal Real ID requirements while allowing drivers to opt out of the enhanced security features that critics contend are unconstitutional.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens says Trump administration may intervene on Real ID issue
As state lawmakers ponder whether or not Missouri should comply with the federal Real ID law, Gov. Eric Greitens says President Donald Trump may be considering changes that would make the debate unnecessary. Missouri faces a January deadline to get into compliance with the federal law. If it does not, Missourians will no longer be able to use their driver’s license to board a commercial airplane or set foot in certain federal buildings or military bases. Instead, they’d have to have a passport.

Lawmakers debate Montana license, ID card legality
Montana lawmakers debated how to make Montana licenses and ID cards legal Tuesday. As it stands now Montana ID cards are not compliant under federal ID standards outlined in the Real ID Act of 2005. For years many Montana lawmakers have opposed the stipulations of the Real ID Act over privacy concerns. The 2007 Montana Legislature passed a law saying the state would not comply with regulations of the Real ID Act. Lawmakers in the 2017 legislative session are trying to reverse that decision and move forward with the implementation process.

Driving in America 

Arizona outlaws plastic covers, films that obscure license plates
Got one of those plastic covers or films over your license plate? Be prepared to get out your screwdriver or razor blade to take it off. Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday signed legislation making it illegal to put any covering or substance on a plate “that obscures from any angle the number, characters, year validating tabs or name of the jurisdiction issuing the plate.” The measure takes effect 90 days after the end of the session, meaning probably not until sometime in August.

DC mulls dropping 30-day doubling of parking, traffic tickets
The District’s Council is considering a bill that would eliminate the current doubling of fines for failing to pay parking and traffic tickets within 30 days — but only for D.C. residents.

Kansas Supreme Court Clears Man Charged With Stoplight Burnout
A quick stoplight burnout, while stationary, is not an “exhibition of speed,” the Kansas Supreme Court ruled earlier this month. A majority of justices came to this conclusion in finding that Officer Donald Bowers lacked the authority to pull over Travis Sharp on January 25, 2013 after he briefly spun his SUV’s tires at a stoplight.

Kansas: ‘Joey’s Law’ moves closer to Governor Brownback’s desk
A bill aimed at protecting Kansas drivers with disabilities received unanimous voice vote approval today in the House, putting it one step closer to being put on Governor Sam Brownback’s desk. Joey’s Law is a bill created in honor of Joey Weber, the autistic man shot and killed by a Hays police officer last August.

Maryland bill would fine slow drivers in the left lane
Being on the left side in the Washington area means one thing, politically speaking. On the road in Maryland, it could soon be illegal.

Mississippi seat belt law reaction mixed
Reaction to a new seat belt law that requires all passengers in a vehicle to wear a seat belt is getting mixed reaction from some lawmakers.

New distracted driving law passes in North Dakota
A new distracted driving law expands the old one, which means distracted driving is now about more than texting: from eating and snapchatting, to browsing through music.

Ohio will let counties raise driver’s license fees
Counties will be allowed to bump up license plate fees by $5 without first seeking voter approval but the people will still have the power to block those fees through referenda. The fight over the $5 fee increase was one sticking point ironed out between the House and Senate in the two-year state transportation budget bill.

Oklahoma: Cuts threaten shuttering over two dozen driver’s license exam sites
Many Oklahomans living outside the state’s largest metropolitan areas soon may find themselves driving up to 100 miles to apply for a driver’s license. Department of Public Safety officials confirmed Monday that potential 15 percent budget cuts threaten to shutter more than two dozen driver’s license exam sites across the state.

Cost of Wyoming vehicle registrations, licenses going up
In July, the costs of registering a vehicle and getting a driver’s license will go up — by $15 and $20 for passenger vehicles and new licenses, respectively. Wyoming drivers and vehicle owners are projected to pay an additional $45 million over the next two years, thanks to the pair of fee increases passed by the Legislature.

Infrastructure Watch 

Colorado senator rejects CDOT’s toll road idea for new transportation bill
On the heels of the newly-proposed House Bill 1242, the Colorado Department of Transportation is suggesting those roads be “managed lanes,” like HOV or toll lanes. House Bill 1242 is meant to help alleviate traffic in the area, build new added lanes to highways and improve roads. Coloradans would have to vote on raising taxes to begin with. I-70 and I-25 are two of the projects that would be priorities if the bill is passed. The areas are notoriously traffic jammed.

Florida authority spends $1 million to clean up expressway
Authority is spending about $1 million to pressure wash the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, causing nightly closures of the popular toll road.

Tolls possible on some Indiana interstates
An Indiana Senate committee Tuesday pushed through plans to raise the gas tax by 10 cents and open Indiana interstate highways to tolling. However, the plan to raise $672 million for road funding in the second year of the tax hike deviates from the House proposal.

Missouri lawmakers pushing for ban on toll roads
Missouri lawmakers are putting the brakes on any talk of transforming all or parts of Interstate 70 into a toll road.

Report: Pennsylvania illegally funded police with more than $222 million of highway money
Pennsylvania violated its state constitution last fiscal year by diverting more than $222.2 million away from state roads and giving it to the state police, according to a report released by the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.

Cibolo, TX Citizens petition against privately funded toll road
A group of Cibolo citizens are gathering signatures for a petition to ask the city council to pump the breaks on building a toll road. The city council recently approved an agreement for a private company to build the road without taking it to a public vote.

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.

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