Driving News Roundup: May 5, 2017

In this week’s Driving News Roundup:

–Trump considers increasing the gas tax—

–Most drivers can’t afford expensive car repairs—

–IA cities lose appeal over speed cams—

–Speed Limits rise in MI—

–In VA—a parking lot is not a highway–

NMA Driving News Story of the Week

Supreme Court Rejects Guilty Until Proven Innocent, Says States Cannot Keep Money from the Innocent
With so many constitutional rights under siege, it’s welcome news when one of them is defended. Reaffirming the presumption of innocence, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Colorado law last month that forced criminal defendants to prove their innocence when the defendants’ convictions were already overturned. As the court explained, “Absent those convictions, Colorado would have no legal right to exact and retain petitioners’ funds.” Not only is this decision a win for due process, the court’s ruling in Nelson v. Colorado could have major ramifications for government shakedown schemes nationwide.

NMA Driving News Editorial of the Week

Opinion: Texas’ auto safety inspections are no help, so let’s scrap them
Requiring regular inspections to ensure the functioning of basic safety features seems like prudent public policy — but research finds no evidence that safety inspections actually increase driver safety.

National News Watch

Trump says he’d consider increasing the gas tax
President Trump on Monday said he was open to raising the federal tax on gasoline and using the new revenue for his infrastructure package, a potentially major policy change as his top advisers try to assemble a plan to finance $1 trillion in new projects. Trump, in an interview with Bloomberg News, said he was open to raising the tax, though he was not committed to pursuing it.

Why Is Subaru Telling Me To Keep People Out Of The Passenger Seat For The Next Year?
Reader Henry tells Consumerist he recently received such a recall notice [PDF] concerning his 2009 Subaru Forester. The notice alerted Henry that the passenger side frontal airbag could be defective, but that a new part for the vehicle would not be available until March 2018. Oh and by the way, he was instructed not to drive with a passenger in the front seat.

New AAA survey says most drivers cannot afford unexpected care repairs
According to a new AAA survey, 64 million drivers would not be able to pay for an unexpected vehicle repair without going into debt. According to AAA, this means that some American drivers underestimate the full cost of owning and operating a vehicle. The average repair bill can cost anywhere from $500 to $600.

The auto lending bubble seems to be getting bigger
Americans have taken out roughly $1.2 trillion in auto loans, which is a record high. Approximately 25 percent of that total was signed for by subprime borrowers–that is, those with not-so-great credit scores.

Automatic Traffic Enforcement

FBI’s Face Scanning Technology is more likely to Scan Blacks and Minorities
More than six years ago, the FBI launched one of its more unique projects: a complex algorithm that uses facial features, fingerprints, palm prints and iris scans to recognize a target. During the time of its release, privacy lawyers were concerned that the FBI would target everyone with the imposing facial recognition technology. Currently, the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reforms have discovered the lawyers concerns were right.

Iowa Cities Lose Appeal over Speed Camera Rules
Cities in Iowa may no longer defy the state Department of Transportation’s speed camera regulations under a ruling handed down last week. Polk County Judge Scott D. Rosenberg rejected the attempts by Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Muscatine to avoid curbing their automated ticketing practices under rules adopted nearly four years ago.

North Carolina: Pitt Co. Schools plan for red-light camera funds
Red-light cameras in Greenville are now just months away from installation. Funds from all the red-light camera tickets will go directly to Pitt County Schools. Superintendent Ethan Lenker has a plan for the money. He wants to use it for technology.

City of Dayton, OH moves one step closer to bringing back speed cameras
City commission voted to move ahead on a plan that involves several types of the technology.

Red-Light Cameras May Be Issuing Some Tickets Based on Bogus Math
AMERICA NEEDS a hero, and though Mats Järlström hails from Sweden, he might be it. He won’t reverse climate change or close the wealth gap, but he may help unmake another injustice: that of the ticket-slinging red-light camera.

Portland, OR: Red-light cameras could soon also catch you speeding
Allow cities to use red-light camera systems to issue speeding tickets when speeds are more than 11 miles per hour over the limit during green or yellow lights.

Killeen, Texas red-light cameras off, lawsuit still on
Even though Killeen’s red-light traffic enforcement cameras were shut off on Sunday at midnight, the topic isn’t dead yet. The final agenda item in the Killeen City Council’s workshop meeting Tuesday addressed the pending litigation against the city.

Driver’s License Watch

California mulls third gender for driver’s licenses, birth certificates
California, in all its glorious, leftist vision, may soon offer residents a third option on the portion of state documents that ask for the gender of the writer. There’s male. There’s female. But in California, there may soon be “intersex.” And state legislators supporting the notion say this isn’t an LGBTQ-driven thing, but rather a recognition of a real, albeit rare, biological occurrence.

Connecticut DMV Announces New Driver’s License Process
While this announcement of change in your Connecticut driver’s license process came out at the end of Dec. 2016, you very well might have missed it, I know I did.

Face Recognition software could put your Florida driver’s license photo to criminal database
Almost every local, state and federal agency in Florida has access to your driver’s license picture in a database used to catch criminals.

You can apply for your flight-safe South Carolina identification after May 15
South Carolinians interested in getting a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card — one acceptable for TSA security checkpoints at the airport — can begin submitting documentation to the state Department of Motor Vehicles to start the process May 15. The agency hopes to begin issuing the cards later this year or at the beginning of next year, agency spokeswoman Lauren Phillips said.

Driving in America

Lawmakers Seek Stronger Monitoring of Racial Disparities in Car Insurance Premiums
In response to the Pro Publica report that minority neighborhoods pay higher premiums than white areas with the same risk, six members of Congress and two Illinois state senators are pushing for closer scrutiny of insurance practices.

Choosing Ride-sharing Over Ambulances
If you had a medical emergency, who would you call? “I would call an ambulance because that’s the only thing I would think about doing.” Most would have a similar thought process. “Would you ever think about calling a ride-share service like Lyft or Uber?” That’s right. It’s a growing trend. Instead of calling an ambulance, people are requesting an Uber or Lyft to take them to the hospital.

Arizona: Tucsonans react to hands-free ordinance now in effect
Arizona may not have a blanket ban on cell phone usage when behind the wheel, but the city of Tucson’s hands-free ordinance aims to put an end to distracted driving. According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, distracted driving accounts for 11 percent of all crashes in the state.

Los Angeles, CA police panel pushes fairness and courtesy as powerful weapons to improve trust in the LAPD
They call it “procedural justice,” and the concept is pretty simple. If people believe they are treated fairly and with respect by police, they are more likely to have a favorable view of law enforcement — even if their encounter ends with a ticket or an arrest. It’s a form of community relations that officials believe can help build goodwill and reduce mistrust.

In Maine, thousands have four or more OUIs
Labonte’s driver’s license will be suspended for 10 years after his release from prison, but he can petition to have it restored after that.

Higher speed limits take effect on some Michigan freeways
Traffic will be moving faster on hundreds of miles of Michigan freeways, starting Monday. May 1 marks the first day of 75 mph speed limits for several highways, including 95 miles of US-131 near the Greenville exit to north of Manton. The Michigan Department of Transportation is expected to begin posting the new speed limit signs Monday.

Nevada: I-80 speed limit going to 80 mph northeast of Fernley
The Nevada Department of Transportation will raise the maximum speed limit from 75 to 80MPH on sections of Interstate 80 between Fernley and Winnemucca. Beginning as early as May 8, 2017, about 30 new speed limit signs will be installed with the 80MPH speed limit on Interstate 80 between Fernley and Winnemucca, excluding a section of interstate through Lovelock.

NY Editorial: Textalyzer proposal raises red flags
Car accidents are on the rise, and distracted driving is a big part of the reason why. Politicians want to address the problem, which is understandable.

Oregon Lawmakers Move Ahead With Ban on Electronic Devices While Driving
Oregon lawmakers are one step closer to banning the use of all handheld electronic devices while driving. The state House approved a measure Monday that would clarify the state’s ban on cell phone use while driving would apply to all functions of a smart phone, not just texting and talking.

Utah in the crosshairs: ‘Come for vacation, leave on probation’
The American Beverage Institute placed a full-page ad in Tuesday’s Idaho Statesman cautioning Idahoans against visiting Utah. Why? Because of the state’s new law imposing a .05 blood alcohol threshold — which doesn’t even take effect until Dec. 30, 2018. So it begins.

Virginia Supreme Court Says a Private Parking Lot Is Not A Highway
A divided Virginia Supreme Court majority bucked the trend of courts expanding the reach of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) laws. The high court earlier this month refused to redefine a parking lot as a “highway” to extend the reach of the implied consent law to cover private property.

Should drivers in downtown Seattle pay a toll? Is Congestion Tolling on its way to the USA?
What about charging a toll for anyone who drives a car into downtown Seattle? Some cities around the world already have so-called congestion charges, including London, where traffic volumes are down and the money goes for extra buses.

Infrastructure Watch

Paving the way for CANAMEX, highway of the future
Imagine a road trip in 2030 on a super interstate highway that stretches from Arizona’s border with Mexico to the U.S.-Canada border in Montana. And it won’t be just a road on which you drive your car, but an economic investment to the communities through which it passes.

Collapsed bridge in Atlanta to reopen by late May
State officials say a collapsed interstate bridge in the heart of Atlanta that’s being rebuilt will be reopened weeks earlier than expected. Local news organizations report the Georgia Department of Transportation said Monday the new section of Interstate 85 will be opened before the Memorial Day weekend. Officials initially pledged a June 15 completion date after the bridge collapsed on March 30 following a massive fire. GDOT officials said reconstruction of the bridge will cost up to $16.6 million. The federal government is expected to pay 90 percent of the cost.

Appeals Court Backs North Carolina Toll Road
The controversial Interstate 77 high occupancy toll (HOT) lane project in North Carolina will not be stopped by a lawsuit. The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected a challenge filed by Widen I-77, a local activist group that argues the project rips off residents along the 26 mile route between Charlotte to Mooresville. Unlike the typical “not in my backyard” opposition to toll roads, Widen I-77 wants more general purpose lanes to reduce congestion, instead of HOT lanes that come with contractual clauses designed to perpetuate bottlenecks in the free lanes. A three-judge panel declined to declare unconstitutional the delegation of tolling authority to a private foreign company free to collect “an unlimited rate of return on investment.”

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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