NMA Driving News Weekly Roundup for June 9, 2017

In this week’s Driving News Roundup:

–June is Lane Courtesy Month—

–Oxnard, CA hit with Yellow Light Short—

–OK, PA, WA given 1 month reprieve—

–CA—U-turn on Traffic Tickets—

–Should Fuel Money be used for Private Streets?–

NMA’s Driving News Story of the Week

Hostility to Asset Forfeiture Growing On Supreme Court
The Supreme Court narrowed the scope of criminal asset forfeiture on Monday, finding that government officials cannot force individuals involved in a criminal conspiracy to forfeit proceeds they did not obtain. Though the ruling only restricts one dimension of the modern forfeiture regime, the justices’ writings during this term suggest a growing hostility to current forfeiture practices.

NMA’s Driving News Editorial of the Week

Forbes Editorial: The Federal Gas Tax Is Old — and Broken
The federal gas tax turned 85 yesterday – pretty respectable for an excise but nothing compared with federal levies on alcohol and tobacco, which first appeared in 1789. Still, the gas tax is looking less spry than it once did. As the principal source of revenue for the Highway Trust Fund, the gas tax has an important task to accomplish: ensuring that the nation’s infrastructure keeps pace with a growing economy. But it’s no longer getting the job done.

National News Watch

June is lane courtesy month: Here’s what it means
June is lane courtesy month. It is an entire month to call out those drivers we complain about.

Supreme Court agrees to rule if cops need warrant for cell-site data
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide its biggest privacy dispute in years, a case that asks whether the authorities need a probable-cause court warrant to access people’s mobile phone location history.

US plans to update self-driving guidelines in coming months
President Donald Trump’s administration will unveil revised self-driving guidelines within the next few months, the head of the U.S. Transportation Department said on Monday, responding to automakers’ calls for regulations that will eliminate barriers and allow autonomous vehicles on the road.

Studies show more people driving under influence of prescription drugs
Driving while under the influence of prescription drugs has become a major problem across the county. Some studies have shown that driving under the influence of pills is becoming more common that driving drunk.

Automatic Traffic Enforcement Watch

Grand Jury Hits Oxnard, California over Short Yellow Times
Red-light cameras in Oxnard, California have been exploiting illegally short yellow times, according to a report issued by the Ventura County Grand Jury last week. The report documented the engineering shortcomings as just one of several examples of mismanagement in one of the Golden State’s oldest surviving photo ticketing programs.

Pembroke Pines, FL bringing back red-light cameras
One South Florida city is moving forward with plans to restore a red-light camera program. Beginning July 1, red-light cameras will be running at six intersections within Pembroke Pines.

North Park, IL: 12 Red-Light Cameras Turned Off; City Says They Did Nothing to Stop Crashes
A study by the Northwestern University Transportation Center found that the cameras did nothing to protect motorists, city officials said. The red-light cameras did not reduce the number of crashes even though there were a high number of violations recorded, according to the study.

Missouri Supreme Court rules red-light camera ban will continue in St. Charles County
Red-light cameras will continue to be banned in St. Charles County.

Ohio: Handheld speed cameras add significant revenue for City of Toledo
If you’ve received a ticket from a handheld speed camera, you’ve officially helped out the City of Toledo.

Oregon: Red-light cameras may soon target speeders statewide
An Oregon bill that would allow red-light cameras to also ticket speeding drivers is on its way to Governor Kate Brown’s desk. House Bill 2409 lets cities use camera technology to issue tickets to drivers traveling 11 mph faster than the posted speed limit. The bill also requires cities to post signs advising drivers that traffic laws are being enforced with cameras or similar technology.

Des Moines, WA Court faces increased case load from city’s red-light cameras
In her annual report to the Council, Judge Lisa Leone said she and her 10-person staff are maintaining the high standards while the court workload has increased 300 percent in case filings due to implementation of traffic safety cameras – often called “red-light cameras.”

Driver’s License Watch

Too Poor to Drive in Michigan?
Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders have lost their driver’s licenses simply because they are poor. In 2010 alone, Michigan suspended 397,826 licenses for failure to pay court debt or failure to appear. These residents have not been judged too dangerous to drive; they are not a threat behind the wheel; they have not caused serious injuries while driving. In the vast majority of cases, their only “crime” is that they are too poor to pay.

Oklahoma is granted REAL ID grace period
The state has been given a grace period until July 10 before REAL ID requirements go into effect, according to an Oklahoma Department of Public Safety press release.

Feds grant Pennsylvania a month extension under Real ID law
Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation last month that’s designed to bring Pennsylvania into compliance. But the state Department of Transportation says it isn’t able to produce the new licenses until 2019.

South Carolina County Accused of Running Debtors’ Prison
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal class-action lawsuit claiming a South Carolina county operates a debtors’ prison by jailing people for being unable to pay court fines and letting them linger for weeks before a court hearing.

Washington granted REAL ID extension through mid-July
Even though Washington state officials asked for an extension from compliance from the enforcement of federal requirements for state driver’s licenses and ID cards through October 2020, they say that federal officials have informed them that at this point their extension will only be granted through July 10.

Driving in America

Roadshow: Road boulders, heed the call and move right
June has been designated Lane Courtesy time by the National Motorists Association and that means staying in the right lane, except to pass slower vehicles.

Variable speed limits could reduce crashes, ease congestion in highway work zones
Edara’s data collection and simulation analysis uncovered a few key pieces of data. First, the use of VASL systems is effective in gradually slowing drivers as they enter work zones. VASL use resulted in a 39 to 53 percent decrease in average queue length, and just a 4 to 8 percent increase in travel time. Additionally, using VASL meant that maximum speed differences also decreased by as much as 10 mph, and the chance of rear-end collisions dropped by 30 percent. Researchers also noted a 20 percent decrease in lane changing conflicts. Essentially, travel time was slightly longer, but lines were shorter and collisions were less frequent.

Police respect whites more than blacks during traffic stops, language analysis finds
Police show more respect to whites than blacks during traffic stops, according to a computer analysis of conversations recorded by police body cameras in Oakland, California.

California: A U-turn on traffic tickets?
The state’s court leaders want to decriminalize minor violations.

Impending California Highway Patrol guidelines on lane-spitting may not end debate
Although lane-splitting is allowed, CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt said CHP officers can — and often will — take action against motorcyclist who do it dangerously by ticketing them for speeding or unsafe lane changes.

Why don’t Miami, FL drivers use turn signals? It’s complicated.
How was Stonehenge built? Who was Jack the Ripper? What happens to a star sucked into a black hole? Why don’t Miami drivers use turn signals? These are the great mysteries of the universe!

Indiana 126 percent toll increase affects only two-axle vehicles
Back in 2006, the Indiana Toll Road subsidized frequent users of the toll road as part of an agreement leasing the Turnpike to a private company.

Missouri Editorial: Focus on racial data during traffic stops
The racial disparities in traffic stops — so evident in a statewide report issued this week — are cause for concern, but more importantly they are reason to explore the numbers in greater depth. This only will be possible with a continued focus on improving and standardizing the collection of the data. The fact this work already is underway is good news for everyone who understands the importance of removing bias from law enforcement.

New York City: Experts believe they’ve found a Legal Loophole for Congestion Pricing
Mayor Michael Bloomberg fought hard to implement so-called congestion pricing, only to see a bill fail to even get to the floor in Albany. But now, experts with the transit advocacy group Move NY believe they’ve found a legal loophole that allows the city to implement tolls on East River Bridges — without state approval.

Providence, RI City Council approves police anti-profiling measure
A controversial ordinance designed to prevent racial profiling by Providence police was approved by the City Council Thursday night by a 13-1 vote. Now known as the Providence Community-Police Relations Act, the far-reaching measure prohibits officers from relying on everything from race, ethnicity or language to housing status or political affiliation as a reason to suspect an individual has committed or is about to commit a crime.

South Dakota Analysis: Speed limits creep higher than 80 mph
An Argus Leader Media analysis of four years of speeding ticket data shows that motorists cited by the South Dakota Highway Patrol are speeding at a higher level since the increase to 80 mph, which went into effect on April 1, 2015. Prior to the increase, the average speed motorists were driving when cited in 75 mph zones — then the highest speed limit in the state — was 86 mph. In the 21 months after the increase, the average speed of motorists cited in 80 mph zones increased to 88 mph. At the same time, citations for excessive speeding are also up dramatically. There were 465 citations to motorists driving 100 mph or greater following the new speed limit, compared to 272 over the same period of time before the increase.

Infrastructure Watch

Public-Private Projects Where the Public Pays and Pays
Public-private partnerships, as they are known, have many potential benefits. Companies can complete projects quicker and more cheaply than governments can, proponents say. Letting private industry take the lead can also limit the amount of debt that cities and states need to take on. Yet in the United States, public-private partnerships represent a tiny fraction of infrastructure spending. On toll roads, for instance, where they have been used the most, they accounted for just 1 percent of all spending between 1989 and 2011, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office.

Trump’s infrastructure plan: How “private” will he go?
As President Donald Trump unveils elements of his infrastructure plan this week, Democrats are attacking it as a betrayal of basic government responsibilities. This “privatization,” as they call it, would sell out rural America and allow companies to exploit public assets like roads and bridges. But a close look at Trump’s proposal—at least what we know of it so far—reveals a plan that rests not on privatization but on public-private partnerships. The two ideas sound similar but are actually very different, and understanding the differences is critical to accomplishing Trump’s goal of modernizing and upgrading America’s infrastructure.

Fix It Colorado won’t seek tax hike for roads this year
Tony Milo told Colorado Counties Inc. Tuesday that Fix It Colorado won’t ask voters in November to pony up more money for transportation. The group will look to 2018, instead, as voters get a fuller grasp of the funding jam the state is stuck in.

Connecticut House Falls Short Of Votes for Tolls after Approving Transportation Lock Box
With a razor-thin margin on a highly controversial issue, the state House of Representatives debated passionately Tuesday over whether to reinstall tolls on Connecticut highways for the first time in more than 30 years. But without the necessary support on an emotional issue, the House suspended the debate after 1 1/2 hours without a formal vote – effectively dropping the issue for now.

Hawaii: Should fuel tax revenue be used for private roads?
As Hawaii County considers large increases to the fuel tax, should any of that extra revenue go to help improve substandard private roads? That was a question raised Tuesday as the Hawaii County Council considered a resolution seeking to authorize grants for private roads used as main thoroughfares, such as in large subdivisions, during a Finance Committee meeting.

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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