Committee on

David F.


December 15, 2004

Honorable Sheldon Silver
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Room 932, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248

Dear Mr. Speaker:

I am pleased to submit to you the 2004 Annual Report of the Assembly Standing Committee on Transportation.

The Committee’s work during the 2004 Legislative Session resulted in the enactment of bills enhancing children’s health and safety, reducing the risk of traffic injuries to emergency services workers, and increasing the number of divisible load permits that the State Department of Transportation can issue. The Committee also developed and advanced legislation addressing problems posed by dangerous drivers.

Children aged four to seven are sometimes called "the forgotten children" in terms of their safety when traveling in motor vehicles. The law prohibits the transportation of infants and children under the age of four unless they’re buckled into a child seat. Upon their fourth birthday, parents and caregivers generally restrain them in adult seat belts, which are not engineered to provide appropriate restraint in the event of a crash. After many years of passage in the Assembly, legislation this year was signed into law requiring the use of booster seats by children who are four, five or six years old. New York now joins numerous other states in improving the safety of these young children.

Emergency service workers working at roadway incidents often place themselves in great jeopardy. Whether assisting victims of motor vehicle crashes, fighting fires, or dealing with storm damage, emergency service workers often must carry out their work in conditions involving moving traffic. Secondary accidents all too often claim the lives or cause catastrophic injury to fire, medical and police personnel. In an effort to reduce such secondary accidents and their related deaths and injuries, the Committee was successful in obtaining the enactment of legislation to require motorists to drive at appropriate reduced speeds when passing stopped emergency vehicles.

Businesses dependent upon the transport of bulk cargo and loads (receivers as well as shippers) will benefit from legislation enacted as part of the State Fiscal Year 2004-05 Budget which increased the maximum number of permits issued for the truck transportation of loads weighing in excess of the amount the law otherwise would allow. The limit on permits in place prior to the enactment of the budget was stifling the expansion of business and jobs, particularly Upstate. The final budget agreement took a balanced approach, by authorizing additional permits (for use exclusively outside New York City) and imposing additional vehicle safety standards and configurations designed to reduce the impact of the weight on roads and bridges.

As a result of two joint public hearings held at the beginning of the 2004 Legislative Session, the Committee developed a package of legislation to address the dangers posed by reckless and negligent drivers. The Committee’s goal was to not only penalize drivers who operate their vehicles in a manner that puts themselves and the public at risk, but also to prevent accidents from occurring in the first instance. Hence, the final package contained legislation that increased penalties, provided stronger enforcement tools, encouraged the use of engineering solutions where necessary to mitigate dangerous roadway conditions, and educated the motoring public.

As always, I would like to thank the members of the Committee for their support of, and contributions to, this year’s legislative efforts. I also wish to express my gratitude to the State agencies for their assistance and cooperation, and to the staff for their dedication and hard work.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the members of the Committee, I want to thank you for your encouragement and support of our efforts throughout the 2004 Session. With your continued leadership, we look forward to a productive Session in 2005.


David F. Gantt, Chairman
Assembly Standing Committee on Transportation


David F. Gantt, Chairman

Committee Members


Ivan C. Lafayette
Paul D. Tonko
Robert K. Sweeney
Ronald J. Canestrari
Harvey Weisenberg
Alexander Gromack
Sam Hoyt
N. Nick Perry
Darryl C.Towns
Brian M. McLaughlin
Richard A. Smith
Brian M. Higgins
John W. Lavelle
Frank R. Seddio
Darrel J. Aubertine
Michael J. Cusick

Dierdre K. Scozzafava
  Ranking Minority Member
Chris Ortloff
Pat M. Casale
Patrick R. Manning
James Bacalles
David G. McDonough

Sabrina M. Ty, Principal Legislative Coordinator
Julie A. Barney, Principal Analyst
Robert Cook, Counsel to the Chairman
William Thornton, Counsel
Janet Crist, Committee Clerk
Laura Inglis, Program & Counsel Executive Secretary


    1. Committee Jurisdiction

    2. Summary of Committee Action


    1. Traffic Safety

    2. Occupant Protection

    3. Intoxication and Impairment

    4. Dangerous Drivers

    5. Disabled Access

    6. Commercial Motor Vehicles


  4. OUTLOOK FOR 2005







    1. Committee Jurisdiction

      New York State’s transportation network, consisting of a number of different systems and modes, moves millions of people and tons of freight annually. It includes a State and local highway and bridge system of almost 19,500 bridges and approximately 113,000 miles of highways, over which approximately 126.5 billion vehicle miles are driven annually. There are over 500 public and private aviation facilities, providing service to at least 60 million people annually. Six major public ports handle more than 130 million tons of freight each year, including the tonnage from all of the Port of New York and New Jersey, and many smaller private ports within the State’s boundaries handling more than 4 million tons of freight. Also within the State are 3,700 miles of operated railroads, moving over 40 million tons of freight annually. About 1.5 million riders use Amtrak’s Empire and Adirondack services, and over 8 million riders pass through Penn Station using Amtrak service with an origin or destination within New York State. The public transit and commuter rail system carries at least 2.5 billion passengers annually.

      The Assembly Transportation Committee is charged with the responsibility of advancing policies for coordinating the management of these systems and ensuring the employment of measures designed to provide and encourage safe travel. The Committee also is responsible for developing and reviewing legislation covering a wide range of topics affecting the movement of people and goods throughout the State.

      The Committee’s jurisdiction includes oversight and analysis of the activities, including the implementation and administration of programs, of the Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Motor Vehicles (DMV), the New York State Thruway Authority, and various regional transportation authorities and commissions. Committee action primarily affects the following consolidated laws: Vehicle and Traffic, Highway, Transportation, Navigation, Canal, and Railroad.

    2. Summary of Committee Action

      During the 2004 Legislative Session, 832 bills were referred to the Assembly Standing Committee on Transportation. A number ultimately were signed into law, including legislation requiring drivers to slow down when passing stopped emergency vehicles, authorizing two new residential parking permit systems, mandating the use of helmets by young skateboarders, extending motor vehicle franchise protections to snowmobile and all terrain vehicle (ATV) sellers, and directing the use of booster seats by young children.

      The Assembly also acted upon a package of bills to crack down on dangerous drivers. After conducting two public hearings, the Assembly Committees on Transportation and Codes crafted legislation designed to reduce injuries and fatalities attributable to dangerous driving behaviors. The measures contained in this package encompassed the traditional "Three E’s" of traffic safety: enforcement, engineering and education. Enforcement measures included the creation of two new crimes (vehicular homicide and aggravated driving while intoxicated [DWI]), the strengthening of sanctions against DWI and leaving the scene of a fatal accident, the statutory establishment of a State Police accident investigation unit to assist local law enforcement upon request, and the requirement that fatalities and serious physical injuries be noted upon all tickets issued for moving violations. Engineering measures included the creation of a "Safe Routes to School" program, the prioritization of the processing of accident reports involving fatalities and serious physical injuries to allow for quicker identification of problem locations, and the assumption by the State of the costs of traffic lights at entrances to schools. The education component of the package directed the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) to institute a public education campaign to warn motorists of the dangers of driving while drowsy.

      The Committee also conducted three public hearings: two concerning dangerous drivers ("Preventing Deaths and Injuries Caused by Reckless or Negligent Drivers"), and one on the topic of DMV Driver’s License Issues.


    1. Traffic Safety

      Helmets for Skateboarders
      (A.1122-B, Sidikman; Chapter 703, Laws of 2004)

      Information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicates that approximately 26,000 persons are treated annually in hospital emergency rooms with skateboard-related injuries. Several factors contribute to these injuries, including lack of protective equipment and irregular riding surfaces. The CPSC states that six out of every 10 skateboard injuries are to children less than 15 years of age. Skateboarders with less than one week’s experience suffer thirty percent of the injuries, with riders having a year or more of experience having the next highest number.

      In an effort to reduce the severity of injuries suffered by child skateboarders, Chapter 703 of the Laws of 20054 (A.1122-B, Sidikman) requires all persons under the age of 14 who ride on skateboards to wear a helmet approved by DMV. The new law also prohibits any person riding a skateboard from attaching himself or herself to any vehicle operated on a roadway, as well as from carrying any article that obstructs his or her vision. Finally, the law expands the current statewide in-line skate and bicycle helmet distribution program to include helmets for skateboards.

      Malfunctioning Traffic Lights
      (A.9670-A, Lavelle; Chapter 302, Laws of 2004)

      The ”rules of the road” set forth in Title VII of the Vehicle and Traffic Law require motorists to obey all official traffic-control devices, unless otherwise directed by a traffic or police officer. Section 1111 sets forth the actions traffic is allowed to take when facing green, yellow and red traffic lights. The law did not, however, provide any rules for what motorists must do when traffic lights are out of service or malfunctioning. Recent blackouts and various power outages which took traffic lights out of service often resulted in traffic snarls and incidents, as through-traffic failed to stop to allow for turning motorists to enter a roadway.

      Chapter 302 requires motorists approaching an intersection with an out-of-service traffic light to stop as required at stop signs, and to proceed according to the right-of-way rules set forth in Article 26 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law. By imposing this rule on motorists approaching non-working traffic lights, Chapter 302 seeks to reduce traffic delays and tie-ups caused by malfunctioning traffic lights.

    2. Occupant Protection

      Booster Seats for Children Under Age Four
      (A.613, Gantt; Chapter 232, Laws of 2004)

      Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that since 1975, child restraint systems have saved the lives of more than 4,000 children. NHTSA contends that the single most effective way to protect children in the event of a crash is to ensure that all children are buckled up in age-appropriate restraint systems on every trip.

      While the Vehicle and Traffic Law requires that all children under the age of four be restrained in a "specially designed seat" that meets federal safety standards and which is affixed to the vehicle, the majority of these seats have been crash-tested solely for occupants weighing up to forty pounds. Therefore, any child who is under the age of four years, but who weighs more than forty pounds, should ride only in seats rated for passengers over forty pounds.

      Very few child safety seats are actually rated for over forty pounds. Booster seats fill that void, allowing for the safe transportation of such children. Unfortunately, the law was drafted in a manner that prohibited the use of booster seats for children under age four. A parent or caregiver attempting to provide safer transportation by buckling a young child into a booster seat could be given a ticket for failure to comply with the law.

      Clearly, the law should not encourage the use of child vehicle safety systems which endanger the lives of the children riding in them. Therefore, Chapter 232 allows people transporting children who are not yet four years old but who weigh over forty pounds to use booster seats instead of child safety seats.

      Booster Seats and Appropriate Child Restraint Systems
      (A.996-A, McEneny; Chapter 509, Laws of 2004)

      The National Center for Statistics and Analysis, Research and Development published a technical report in March 2002 on fatalities and injuries to infants and children newborn to children age eight,1 which found that the number of fatalities of passenger vehicle occupants among children in this age group had shifted relatively little, from 923 in 1991 to 896 in 2000. While the overall number of annual fatalities decreased nine percent within the newborn through three year old age range, the overall number of annual fatalities increased three percent within the four through eight year old age range.

      Children outgrow most child safety seats when they weigh about 40 pounds, generally by the age of four or five. Among the parents who continue to use restraints, many do so by buckling their children into adult lap/shoulder belts. However, this type of restraint has been shown to cause serious abdominal and/or spinal injuries to children in a crash, since children under 80 pounds and less than 58 inches tall are too small for them. The lap belt tends to ride up onto the abdomen, allowing the pelvis to slide under the belt, leading to direct pressure on, and injury to, internal organs. The shoulder belt can ride across the neck of small children, rather than their shoulder, leading to neck and spinal injuries.

      Groups ranging from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics, NHTSA, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) recommend the use of belt-positioning booster seats for all children who have outgrown their child safety seats but who are too small for adult lap/shoulder belts.

      After many years of passage in the Assembly, in 2004 A.996-A (McEneny) passed both houses of the Legislature. Enacted as Chapter 509 of the Laws of 2004, it prohibits the operation of motor vehicles unless all children four, five or six years of age are restrained in an appropriate child restraint system. The bill would define "child restraint system" as any device used in a motor vehicle in conjunction with safety belts to restrain, seat or position a child, and which meets applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and also define "appropriate child restraint system" to mean any such system for which the occupant meets the manufacturer’s size and weight recommendations.

      Chapter 509 also would provide, as an affirmative defense for violations, that passengers subject to the requirements measure more than four feet nine inches in height and were restrained by a safety belt.

      Seatbelt Use
      (A.903, Lafayette; Passed Assembly)

      Statistics indicate that seat belt use has risen in New York State from sixteen percent in 1984 (the year the seat belt law was enacted) to eighty-five percent in 2003. Thirty-two percent of individuals killed in traffic crashes in New York State in 2001 (the most recent year of available statistics) were not wearing their seat belts. The majority of unrestrained fatalities tend to occur among persons aged 16 to 44 years, although persons aged 45 and older suffer greater numbers of deaths due to failure to wear a seat belt than those under age 16.

      There is a high personal and societal cost incurred from the failure of vehicle occupants to wear seat belts. Motor vehicle traffic crashes impose a $19.49 billion cost on New Yorkers.2 Of this, the injured pay thirty percent of the total costs, while all other New York residents pay the remaining seventy percent through higher vehicle and health insurance rates and through public assistance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

      Recent research conducted by the Center for Transportation Injury Research, affiliated with the University of Buffalo, showed that drivers were twice as likely to suffer fatal injuries in a head-on motor vehicle crash if an unbelted passenger was seated behind them, and the risk of death to such passengers was three times higher.3

      In New York State, all front seat passengers are required to be properly restrained. However, in the middle and/or rear seats, only persons under the age of 16 are required to wear seat belts. Assembly bill 903 would close the final gap in the law by removing the age limitation on the statutory requirement to wear seat belts, so that all passengers aged 16 years and over who are seated in the middle or rear seating positions would be required to buckle up.

      Pick-Up Truck Cargo Areas
      (A.601, Gantt; Passed Assembly)

      Increasingly, people have been purchasing trucks for personal use rather than for business or commercial use. Given the limited seating capacity of these vehicles, children sometimes ride in the cargo area of pickup trucks. NHTSA has found that more than 200 people die annually as a result of riding in the cargo area, and more than half of these deaths are of children and teenagers.

      Riding in the cargo area of a truck, whether it is enclosed or not, is very dangerous. Passengers riding there are exposed not only to the possibility of being ejected due to collisions, swerving, braking or rough roads, but also to carbon monoxide from exhaust fumes. No child should be exposed to the dangers of riding unrestrained, compounded by the additional dangers unique to riding in the cargo area of a truck.

      Assembly bill 601 (Gantt) is intended to prevent deaths and serious physical injuries to children by prohibiting the operation of any truck on a public highway, private road open to public motor vehicle traffic, or parking lot while any person under the age of eighteen is in the body or cargo area of the truck. The bill would exempt farm-type tractors used exclusively for agricultural purposes, other farm equipment, and trucks while engaged in use for agricultural purposes, provided that no passengers are under the age of 12 and such vehicles are making only incidental use of a highway. The bill also would exempt trucks participating in a parade pursuant to a municipal permit, provided that at least one person over age 18 also rides in the body of such truck.

      Children Under Twelve to Ride in Rear Seats
      (A.4648-A, Grannis; Passed Assembly)

      The Air Bag Safety Campaign indicates that, in the United States, an average of eight children are killed and 932 injured every day in motor vehicle-related crashes. Experts ranging from NHTSA to the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that children are safest when buckled up and in the back seat. NHTSA estimates that children are up to twenty-nine percent safer when riding in the rear seat regardless of whether the vehicle is equipped with a front passenger side air bag. Placing children in the back seat provides greater protection from head-on collisions, the most serious type of crash, by getting children farther away from the point of impact.

      The Vehicle and Traffic Law requires all front seat passengers to be restrained, regardless of age, and all rear seat passengers up to the age of 16 to be restrained. To build on these safety standards, the Assembly passed A.4648-A (Grannis). The bill would prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle with any passengers under the age of seven seated in the front seat of such vehicle. However, this prohibition would not apply under the following circumstances: the motor vehicle is not equipped with rear seats; the rear seat cannot accommodate the proper installation of the child safety or booster seat in which such passenger is being transported; all other seat positions contain other occupants; or the passenger has a medical exemption.

    3. Intoxication and Impairment4

      The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) reports that there were 284 reported boating accidents in New York State during 2002, with 26 deaths (up from 25 in 2001), 152 injuries (up from 144 in 2001) and over $1 million in property damage. OPRHP’s statistics continue to indicate that alcohol involvement as a factor in boating accidents in New York State appears to be low. However, these statistics may be incomplete (for example, there may be under-reporting of accidents), and there are a number of accidents in which alcohol involvement is unknown.

      Assembly bill 1593 (Schimminger) would require courts to suspend a person’s privilege to operate a vessel following a conviction for DWI or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) by alcohol or drugs, and give courts the option to suspend a person’s driver’s license following a conviction for boating while intoxicated (BWI) or boating while ability impaired (BWAI.) This will address a loophole in current law which allows a person to operate one type of vehicle (a boat) when barred from operating another type of vehicle (car, truck or van).

    4. Dangerous Drivers

      School Traffic Lights
      (A.456-A, Brodsky; Passed Assembly)

      Under existing law, DOT is authorized to issue permits to school districts for the installation of traffic-control devices at school highway entrances. School districts then pay an annual fee to DOT for the maintenance costs of these devices. Traffic-control devices in and around schools are of major concern to the safety of children, and concerns were raised that safety could be limited by the constraints of local budgets. Assembly bill 456-A (Brodsky) would require the State to pay for the cost of providing, erecting, and maintaining traffic-control signals or flashing signals used in connection with regulating traffic upon a highway at entrances to schools.

      Disposition of STOP-DWI Fine Money
      (A.726-A, Gantt; Passed Assembly)

      The STOP-DWI Program5, enacted in 1981, authorizes each of the State’s 62 counties to establish a STOP-DWI Program to address alcohol and highway safety issues within each county. These programs have proven to be very successful in reducing alcohol-related traffic injuries and fatalities, and generally include efforts relating to enforcement, prosecution, probation, rehabilitation, public information and education, and program administration. The establishment of such programs qualifies each county to receive almost all of the fine moneys collected for alcohol and other drug-related traffic offenses occurring within its jurisdiction.

      The one exception regarding the payment of DWI fine monies to STOP-DWI programs are the fines assessed for violating the conditions of a conditional use license. A conditional use license is issued to a person convicted of a DWI offense, upon successful completion of an approved alcohol and drug rehabilitation program. Such license allows an individual whose driver’s license was suspended or revoked for a DWI offense to drive under limited circumstances (including to and from work, school, court-ordered probation activities, and medical treatment.)

      Assembly bill 726-A (Gantt) would direct the fines assessed for driving a vehicle for purposes other than those allowed by a conditional use license to the appropriate county’s STOP-DWI Program. Allocation of these fine monies to the STOP-DWI Programs would further aid local efforts to combat drunk driving.

      Driving While Intoxicated
      (A.773-C, Gantt; Passed Assembly)

      The State of New York has an exemplary record of fighting drunk driving, based upon strict laws, vigorous enforcement, an outstanding STOP-DWI Program, and public education efforts. However, while alcohol-related crashes represent less than three percent of all accidents occurring within New York State, alcohol-related fatal crashes represent almost twenty percent of all fatal accidents (2001 data from DMV, the most recent year for which statistics are available.) Clearly, more needs to be done to prevent seriously intoxicated drivers, as well as repeat offenders, from putting the public at risk of death or serious injury.

      Assembly bill 773-C would make comprehensive changes in current law to deter drivers from operating vehicles while having a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, as well as those who put the public at risk by repeatedly driving while intoxicated.

      Specifically, the bill would change the law in the following manner:

      1. Aggravated DWI

        The bill would establish the offense of aggravated DWI, prohibiting any person from driving a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.20 of one percent or more. The bill also would restrict plea bargains for persons charged with aggravated DWI to at least a plea to DWI, unless a district attorney determines that such charge is not warranted and the court sets forth on the record the basis for the disposition.

        A first conviction for aggravated DWI would be a misdemeanor, punishable by a minimum $1,000, maximum $2,500 fine and/or up to one year imprisonment. The bill also would require that persons so convicted who are sentenced to probation be required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device for the term of probation. A conviction for aggravated DWI within ten years of a previous conviction for DWI, aggravated DWI, vehicular assault or vehicular manslaughter would be a class E felony, subject to a minimum $1,000, maximum $5,000 fine and/or imprisonment as provided in the Penal Law. The bill also would increase penalties for committing aggravated DWI while operating certain commercial and non-commercial vehicles such as taxicabs, school buses, and trucks.

      2. Vehicular Manslaughter

        The bill would add as aggravating factors in the elements of vehicular manslaughter in the first degree the commission of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree and one of the following: causing the death of two or more persons; or having two prior DWI/DWAI convictions within the previous ten years each of which are either a misdemeanor or felony; or having three prior DWI/DWAI convictions within the previous ten years, at least one of which is a misdemeanor or felony.

      3. Permanent Driver’s License Revocation

        The bill would permanently revoke a person’s driver’s license upon:

        • his or her third conviction within four years, or fourth conviction within eight years, for: DWI, aggravated DWI, DWAI by drugs, certain alcohol-related Penal Law violations, or any combination thereof; or

        • his or her refusal to submit to a chemical test, if he or she also has two previous convictions within four years or three previous convictions within eight years for: DWI, aggravated DWI, DWAI by drugs, certain alcohol-related Penal Law violations, or any combination thereof.

        The bill would require DMV, absent a denial on a case-by-case basis for public safety and welfare reasons, to restore a permanently-revoked license after a period of five years if the person has not been convicted of DWI, DWAI by alcohol or drugs, aggravated DWI, certain alcohol-related Penal Law violations and/or refused a chemical test within that time frame. He or she also would be required to provide either proof of successful completion of a rehabilitation program or a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities.

        Subsequent to the restoration of a permanently-revoked license, the bill would require DMV to re-impose permanent revocation upon the driver’s license of any person upon:

        • his or her refusal to submit to a chemical test when his or her record indicates that he or she has three prior refusals and/or three such prior convictions within four years or (b) four such refusals and/or convictions within eight years; or

        • his or her conviction for DWI, DWAI by alcohol or drugs, aggravated DWI, and/or certain alcohol-related Penal Law violations after (a) three prior refusals and/or three prior such convictions within four years or (b) four such refusals and/or convictions within eight years.

        DMV would have the discretion, but not be required, to restore a license if, after eight years of the second revocation period has elapsed, the person has not been convicted of DWI, DWAI by alcohol or drugs, or aggravated DWI, or refused a chemical test within such time period, and he or she provides both proof of successful completion of a rehabilitation program and a certificate of relief from disabilities.

      4. Substance abuse and dependency

        The bill would expand the current mandatory alcohol assessment for repeat offenders to include assessment for substance abuse and dependency, require court-ordered treatment as a condition of a sentence of probation or conditional discharge, and impose confidentiality requirements on assessment and treatment records. Additionally, it would mandate an alcohol and drug screening either at the arraignment or prior to the sentencing of any person charged with a first-time DWI offense with a BAC less than 0.15 of one percent or charged with refusing a chemical test, and an alcohol and drug assessment either at the arraignment or prior to the sentencing of any person whose screening indicates a problem, or who is a repeat DWI or DWAI offender, or who is charged with DWI with a BAC of 0.15 of one percent or higher, or who is charged with aggravated DWI.

        The bill would mandate treatment as a condition of a sentence of probation or conditional discharge wherever a screening or assessment indicates such need, and deems pleas which include the Drinking Driver Program (DDP) and any assessments or treatment imposed thereby to comply with the sentencing requirement.

      5. Chemical Test Refusals

        The bill would increase the license revocation periods and civil fines imposed for chemical test refusals: to one year (from six months) for a first offense and to eighteen months (from one year) for subsequent offenses, and to $500 (from $300) for an offense involving a passenger motor vehicle and to $550 (from $350) for an offense involving a commercial motor vehicle.

      The stiffer penalties contained in this measure are intended to deter hardcore drinking drivers from getting behind the wheel, while the assessment and treatment provisions will address the underlying alcohol or substance abuse problems in order to prevent future incidents.

      Distribution of Mandatory Surcharge
      (A.2129-A, Tokasz; Passed Assembly)

      In the FY 2000-2001 budget, and again in the FY 2003-04 budget, the Governor proposed and the Legislature enacted significant increases in the mandatory surcharges imposed on traffic violations (currently $45 for a traffic infraction, $140 for a misdemeanor, and $250 for a felony). This could have the unintended consequence of reducing the collection of DWI fines which fund the STOP-DWI Program. Accordingly, the Assembly passed A.2129-A (Tokasz), which proposes that the surcharges imposed for all alcohol-related convictions under the Vehicle and Traffic Law (and vehicular assault and manslaughter under the Penal Law) be returned to the county of conviction, to the credit of the STOP-DWI Program.

      The STOP-DWI Program has always had a commitment to maintain fines at a collectible amount. Earmarking the surcharges on alcohol-related convictions for the STOP-DWI Program would be consistent with the underlying intent of the STOP-DWI statute and will help to insulate the local programs from the effects of any reduced fine collection, thereby helping to restore the revenues that are critical to the success of the Program.

      Safety of Emergency Service Workers
      (A.4260-A, Magee; Chapter 211, Laws of 2004)

      Emergency service workers provide invaluable services to the public, often at great risk to their personal safety. Paramedics, emergency medical technicians, police officers and firefighters are called upon frequently to respond to motor vehicle accidents and incidents. Conditions such as hazardous weather, sun glare, scene lighting, traffic speed and volume, and road configurations that obstruct the visibility of oncoming motorists contribute to the hazards facing emergency service workers. One other factor that creates hazardous conditions for such workers involves speeding or inattentive motorists.

      Chapter 211 of the Laws of 2004 requires motorists to drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching an emergency vehicle that is stopped or parked on the roadway and displaying emergency lights. Violations would be subject to a minimum $45, maximum $150 fine and/or not more than 15 days imprisonment.

      New York City Red Light Camera Program6
      (A.4806-B, Lafayette; Passed Assembly)

      Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1111-a authorizes the City of New York to enact a local law for the installation and operation of cameras to monitor red light violations at up to 50 intersections within the City. Absent legislative action, the law was scheduled to expire on December 1, 2004.

      Assembly bill 4806-B would extend the Program until December 1, 2009. It also would authorize the use of 25 additional cameras, raising the total to 75, and require the use of technologies to prevent images of vehicle occupants and contents in red light photographs. The bill also would require the City to use thirty percent of the revenues produced for public safety purposes, subject to appropriation by the New York City Council, prohibit any owner from being held liable if the vehicle was operated without such owner’s consent, and create a presumption that vehicles are operated with such consent. The bill would create a defense to any prosecution that traffic-control signals were malfunctioning at the time of the alleged violation. Finally, it would expand the reporting requirements to include accident data and expenses incurred for such Program.

      Chapter 667 of the Laws of 2004 (A.11663, Rules/Lafayette) extends the New York City Red Light Camera Program to December 1, 2009.

      Small School Bus Seat Belts
      (A.5031-B, Perry; Passed Assembly)

      School buses with a seating capacity of more than 10 occupants used to transport students in New York State are subject to federal safety standards such as high backed, padded seats, compartmentalized passenger areas and higher structural standards for crash worthiness. Because these school bus safety features exceed those of a passenger vehicle, the State seatbelt laws did not apply to school buses (Vehicle and Traffic Law §1229-c). However, the definition of "school bus" in the Vehicle and Traffic Law (§142) generally includes any vehicle (regardless of seating capacity) owned by or operated for a public or governmental agency or private school for the transportation of pupils to or from school or school related activities. Thus, school buses having a seating capacity of 10 passengers or less are exempt from the federal standards, and, because they are "school buses" under §142 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, they are also exempt from the New York seat belt laws.

      Children riding in these small school operated vans and vehicles are in no less danger of injury than any other occupant of any other van or car. In many cases, children are given a mixed message: that they must wear a seat belt in a van or car when it is used as a private passenger vehicle, but they are not required to wear a seat belt when such vehicles are used as small "school buses." Assembly bill 5031-B would eliminate this inconsistency by prohibiting the operation of any school bus for which no applicable federal school bus safety standards exist unless all occupants are restrained by a safety belt approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Violations would be subject to a minimum $25, maximum $100 fine.

      Truck Convex Mirrors
      (A.9971-B, Seddio; Assembly Third Reading Calendar)

      The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) reports that more than 4,800 pedestrians died from traffic-related injuries in 2002, almost one-fifth (960) of whom were children from birth to age 14 years. The increased risk of child pedestrian injuries and fatalities is due to multiple factors, including the fact that their smaller size makes them difficult for drivers, particularly drivers of large vehicles, to see.

      While no single strategy will prevent all of these injuries, improvements in truck equipment could increase the visibility of child pedestrians by truck drivers. Assembly bill 9971-B would require all trucks, tractors, and tractor-trailer or semi-trailer combinations registered in New York State and having a gross vehicle weight rating of 18,000 pounds or more to be equipped with a convex mirror on the front of such vehicle. The bill also would specify the adjustments of such mirror while the vehicles are in operation. The bill’s provisions, applicable only within the City of New York, also would direct the DMV, in consultation with DOT, to promulgate regulations to exempt from this equipment requirement any vehicle where DMV has determined that the use of such mirrors would not increase the visibility of persons or objects directly in front of such vehicle.

      The bill also would be deemed repealed if any federal agency or court of competent jurisdiction determines that it would render New York State ineligible for the receipt of federal funds.

      Safe Routes to Schools
      (A.10057-A, Rules/Galef; Chapter 444, Laws of 2004)

      A 1996 U.S. Surgeon General’s report notes that seventy-eight percent of children do not meet recommended levels of daily physical activity. Being active physically can have a positive effect on children’s health and academic performance. In addition, numerous studies suggest that walking as little as one half hour each day has a significant influence on weight control. This is important given the fact that, nationwide, New York has the ninth highest level of overweight high school students and the third highest level of overweight low-income children aged two to five years.7

      Providing safe routes to school would improve a child’s life by offering them the opportunity to transport themselves to and from school safely by: reducing traffic in the area thus enhancing the air quality; enabling children to improve their circulation and health through walking or cycling; allowing children greater access to after and before school activities by reducing the reliance on their parent’s transportation; and making the general area around school safer for general pedestrian use.

      Chapter 444 of the Laws of 2004 (Assembly bill 10057-A, Rules/Galef) directs DOT to establish and administer a "Safe Routes to School" program, within amounts appropriated therefore, to eliminate or reduce physical impediments to primary and secondary school-aged children walking or bicycling to school. Projects eligible for reimbursement would include the construction, reconstruction, enhancement, improvement, replacement, reconditioning, restoration, rehabilitation and preservation of crosswalks, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and traffic calming measures where the service life of the project is at least ten years.

      Reexamination of Drivers
      (A.10419-A, Rules/Gantt; Passed Assembly)

      New York State drivers’ licenses are valid for an eight year period upon issuance or renewal, except for any period of time that such licenses are suspended or revoked. Section 506 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law authorizes DMV to require a person holding a valid license to submit to a reexamination of his or her qualifications to operate a motor vehicle whenever the Department has reasonable grounds to believe that a licensee is not qualified, as well as whenever a licensee has been involved in three reportable accidents within an 18 month period. While the point system established by DMV provides some guidance to the Department on driver qualifications, there may be instances where courts adjudicating offenses are in a position to identify problem drivers.

      Assembly bill 10419-A (Rules/Gantt) would authorize courts, upon sentencing a person convicted of leaving the scene of an accident, or of a third or subsequent moving violation within eighteen months, or who the court has reasonable grounds to believe is not qualified to drive a motor vehicle, to issue an order requiring such person to submit to a reexamination by DMV. The bill would require DMV to suspend the driver’s license of any person who fails to make an application for reexamination pursuant to such court order within thirty days of its issuance, until such time as the person makes such application.

      Uniform Traffic Ticket Notations
      (A.11351, Rules/Bradley; Passed Assembly)

      Current law requires police officers to note, in the "description of violation" section of a uniform traffic summons issued for DWI and DWAI, whether a death or serious physical injury occurred. Assembly bill 11351 (Rules/Bradley) would extend this requirement to all traffic summonses issued for violations arising out of a crash in which a death or serious physical injury occurred. The provision of such notations would allow courts and district attorneys the opportunity to review whether further action is warranted given the circumstances of a crash.

      Vehicular Homicide
      (A.11352, Rules/Lentol; Passed Assembly)

      Currently, the criminal law requires that in order for a driver to be convicted of criminally negligent homicide (a class E felony), the driver’s conduct must satisfy the standard of criminal negligence. Individuals who have a record of repeated, extremely dangerous driving that renders them hazardous to the public usually cannot be prosecuted when they commit a major traffic violation and cause the death of another person, absent proof of criminal negligence.

      To address this issue, the Assembly passed A.11352 (Rules/Lentol). This bill would create the new crime "vehicular homicide," a class E felony. A person would be guilty of "vehicular homicide" by operating a motor vehicle and causing the death of another person by the commission of a major traffic violation and either:

      • such person was previously convicted of two or more major traffic violations on at least two separate occasions within the immediately preceding 18 months, or

      • at the time of causing such death, such person was driving with a license revoked for a conviction of homicide or assault arising from the operation of a motor vehicle or criminal negligence resulting in death from such operation, and such person knew or had reason to know of such revocation.

      The bill would define "major traffic violation" as any of the following: leaving the scene of a personal injury accident; failing to obey traffic-control signals, railroad crossing signals, or stop signs; overtaking and passing a stopped school bus; speeding more than 20 miles per hour (mph) over the established speed limit; engaging in a speed contest or race; reckless driving; DWI or DWAI by drugs, and any violation of the Penal Law that includes DWI or DWAI by drugs as a required element.

      Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Crash
      (A.11363, Rules/Weisenberg; Passed Assembly)

      Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle crash resulting in personal injury or death is a crime. During the time such a crash goes unreported, injured people at the scene could become more seriously injured or die. In addition to concerns that current law fails to provide a sufficient deterrent to prevent drivers from fleeing motor vehicle crash scenes, concerns also have been raised that current law "rewards" intoxicated drivers who flee the scene. An intoxicated driver who stays at the scene of a crash resulting in the death of another person faces a more serious charge - second degree vehicular manslaughter, a class D felony - than if he or she left the scene, sobered up, and was subsequently apprehended or voluntarily came forward, which is a class E felony.

      Assembly bill 11383 (Rules/Weisenberg) would increase the penalty for leaving the scene of a personal injury accident from a class B to a class A misdemeanor and impose a minimum $500, maximum $1,000 fine upon conviction. The bill also would increase the penalty for leaving the scene of a fatal accident from a class E to a class D felony, thus eliminating an incentive for intoxicated drivers to flee the scene in order to avoid a higher felony charge.

      Drowsy Driving
      (A.11392, Rules/Galef; Passed Assembly)

      NHTSA reports that, nationwide, drivers falling asleep while driving are responsible for at least 100,000 motor vehicle crashes, 40,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities annually. While there is no empirical method for proving drowsiness, NHTSA infers drowsiness from crash characteristics: crashes occurring between the hours of midnight and six a.m. involving a single vehicle and sober driver traveling alone, with the vehicle leaving the roadway without any attempt to avoid the crash. Thus, the true level of drowsiness-induced crashes may be underestimated, since crashes occurring in daytime hours or involving multiple vehicles, alcohol, passengers or evasive maneuvers are not included.

      In an effort to reduce fatalities and injuries caused by drowsy driving, the Assembly passed A.11392 (Rules/Galef). This bill would require the GTSC, in cooperation with DMV, DOT, the Department of Health (DOH), the Division of the State Police (DSP), and any other agency or public entity of the State deemed necessary, to develop and implement a public outreach campaign to inform the general public of the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while drowsy, of the need for drivers to provide their full attention to the driving task, of the dangers of engaging in behaviors that reduce the attention of the driver from the driving task, and how to avoid such behaviors. The bill would require that such campaign include public service announcements and written informational materials to be available in motor vehicle offices and motor vehicle dealerships. The bill also would require that the GTSC, as part of this campaign, coordinate educational efforts with other State and local agencies and not-for-profit organizations, and encourage traffic safety and driver education programs to include such information in their curricula.

      The bill also would require DOT to conduct a study, in consultation with the DSP and the Thruway Authority, of the availability and safety of rest areas for the use by vehicle operators to avoid driving while drowsy, such study to be delivered to the Governor and the Legislature on or before December 1, 2005.

      Safe Transportation of Pre-School Children
      (A.11393, Rules/Gantt; Passed Assembly)

      The safety of children while being transported to and from school is of critical importance. Article 19-A of the Vehicle and Traffic Law provides protection to school-aged children, by mandating that drivers of school buses undergo criminal history background checks, medical examinations, annual driving record reviews, and biennial behind-the-wheel testing and testing of their knowledge of the rules of the road, defensive driving practices and the laws regulating driving a bus in New York State. Article 19-A also provides for the disqualification of such drivers from operating school buses if they are convicted of any of a number of specified violations. However, persons driving pre-school aged children to pre-school or nursery school are not subject to these strict standards and requirements. Such young children deserve the same level of protection as that proffered to school-aged children.

      Assembly bill 11393 (Rules/Gantt) would subject persons operating vehicles owned by governmental agencies, pre-schools or nursery schools and transporting children less than school age, teachers and other persons acting in a supervisory capacity to and from a pre-school or nursery school or school activities, as well as vehicles privately owned and operated for compensation for such transportation pursuant to an agreement with such entities, to the requirements of Article 19-A as are applicable to all other school bus drivers.

      Accident Data Processing
      (A.11401, Rules/Smith; Passed Assembly)

      Factors contributing to motor vehicle related deaths and injuries generally fall into two categories: factors that contribute to the actual cause of the accident, and factors that contribute to the severity of the accident. Human factors are the major causes of accidents, but the severity of an accident can be attributed to factors such as speed, angle of collision, rigidity of the object impacted, the design of the roadside environment, the vehicle itself, and the location and action of the occupants.

      Engineering and the design of the roadside environment can help to reduce both the probability and the severity of vehicle crashes. But one of the most important features of a preventive safety program is ensuring that crash data is provided to the appropriate agency in a timely manner. Such data assists agencies in identifying high risk or problem areas, and supports a more rapid response in mitigating crash factors at such locations.

      Assembly bill 11401 (Rules/Smith) is intended to ensure that the data necessary for roadside accident mitigation efforts is available in a timelier manner. It requires DMV to prioritize the processing of accident reports involving serious physical injury or death. Having this data available more quickly after the occurrence of an accident will allow quicker response for making any necessary changes at crash locations to prevent or reduce the severity of potential future crashes.

    5. Disabled Access

      Towing from Parking Spaces
      (A.2149-A, McLaughlin; Passed Assembly)

      Subdivision four of Vehicle and Traffic Law §1203-c authorizes officers issuing tickets for illegal parking in a space designated for use by the disabled to tow the vehicle for which the ticket was issued. In order to alert the general public of this enforcement option, and to deter those lacking the appropriate permits from taking spaces away from individuals in need of them, the Assembly passed A.2149-A (McLaughlin). This bill would authorize disabled parking spaces to be marked as tow-away zones.

      Parking Space Access Aisle Width
      (A.5476, Cahill; Passed Assembly)

      Access aisles that lie adjacent to parking spaces accessible to the disabled are there for the purpose of enabling disabled persons, many times wheelchair users, to get into and out of their vehicles. Since wheelchair-accessible vehicles generally are equipped with ramps or lifts which extend for a distance out a vehicle’s side door, access aisles must be wide enough to accommodate this equipment. Some access aisles, however, are too narrow to accomplish this purpose.

      Assembly bill 5476 (Cahill) would require that both disabled parking spaces and access aisles each be a minimum of eight feet in width. This provision would be required only if a person or entity creates a new off-street parking lot, or repaves or repaints more than fifty percent of the total number of parking spaces within an off-street lot, or repaves or repaints more than fifty percent of the total number of disabled parking spaces within an off-street lot.

      Parking Space Access Aisle Signs
      (A.5471, Cahill; Passed Assembly)

      Access aisles adjacent to disabled parking spaces are sometimes blocked by the vehicles of drivers parking in such access aisles. Thus, disabled drivers and/or occupants often are prevented from accessing their vehicles. Assembly bill 5471 (Cahill) would require that each such access aisle be posted with a "NO PARKING ANYTIME" sign, as well as be marked with four-inch wide diagonal stripes at a forty-five degree angle, spaced two feet on the center.

      This provision would be required only if a person or entity creates a new off-street parking lot, or repaves or repaints more than fifty percent of the total number of parking spaces within an off-street lot, or repaves or repaints more than fifty percent of the total number of disabled parking spaces within an off-street lot.

      Parking Spaces
      (A.5479-A, Cahill; Passed Assembly)

      Current law requires persons, firms or corporations owning a shopping center or facility with at least five separate retail stores and at least 20 off-street parking spaces for use by the shopping public to designate, for exclusive use by the disabled, a minimum of five percent or ten spaces, whichever is less.

      In an effort to further improve access by the disabled, the Assembly passed legislation to increase the number of facilities required to designate parking spaces for disabled use (A.5479-A, Cahill). Under the legislation, facilities with at least three separate retail stores and at least 20 off-street parking spaces for use by the shopping public would have to designate disabled parking spaces by July 1, 2005. This proposal would require facilities with one retail store with at least 20 off-street parking spaces to designate such spaces by July 1, 2007.

      Wheelchair Accident Statistics
      (A.5477-A, Cahill; Passed Assembly)

      Certain federal laws require transportation providers to transport disabled students and adults in their own wheelchairs. In the United States, an estimated 4,000 wheelchair occupants were injured in motor vehicle-related accidents. In New York State, however, there is no way to easily determine the number of wheelchair-bound individuals injured in motor vehicle-related accidents. Since this information is not required to be included on motor vehicle accident report forms, it is not included in DMV’s annual summary of motor vehicle accidents.

      Assembly bill 5477 (Cahill) would require DMV to include in its annual summary of motor vehicle accidents, beginning in 2005, information relating to whether a passenger was being transported in a wheelchair, whether such passenger sustained injuries, the position the wheelchair was facing, and whether any components of the wheelchair contributed to the injuries of any person.

      Rental Vehicle Access
      (A.4026, DiNapoli; Passed Assembly)

      While several large vehicle rental agencies offer the option of portable, temporarily installed hand controls or other mechanical devices to allow a vehicle’s use by the disabled, this option generally is available only on medium and/or high price category vehicles. Assembly bill 4026 (DiNapoli) would require car rental companies with fleets of 100 or more vehicles to offer, at no additional charge, portable hand controls or other mechanical devices for use on all price and size categories of vehicles by disabled persons. If a class of vehicle is requested which cannot accommodate the controls or devices, the rental company would be required to provide a vehicle that could accommodate such controls or devices, at a price equal to that of the vehicle requested. The bill would allow companies to require 48 hours prior notice.

    6. Commercial Motor Vehicles

      Divisible Load Permits
      (Part C, A.9559-B, Budget; Chapter 59, Laws of 2004)

      In an effort to protect the public safety and to minimize damage to highway infrastructure and the environment, New York State restricts the weight of vehicles and vehicle loads allowed to travel over its highways and bridges (Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 385.) However, in recognition that there may be compelling economic reasons to transport cargo in a single trip that would otherwise have to be divided into multiple trips, the State also authorizes the issuance of "divisible load" permits. A divisible load permit increases the maximum amount of weight that the permit holder can legally transport within the State, provided that (s)he also complies with other vehicle equipment requirements designed to minimize the impact of the extra weight on roads and bridges.

      Prior to the passage of the 2004-05 State Fiscal Year (SFY) budget, the law authorized DOT to issue no more than 17,000 such permits in any given year. Demand for divisible load permits increased recently due to factors such as applications from out-of-state trucking businesses. As a consequence of this increased demand, DOT instituted a lottery system into which it placed all new permit applications. Essentially, no new applications could be approved until such time as permits in the existing pool of 17,000 became available when current permit holders no longer needed the permits and returned them to DOT.

      Concerns were raised by a number of industries about the lack of permit availability. Language was approved in the SFY 2004-05 budget to increase the cap on the number of divisible load permits that DOT could issue (from 17,000 to 25,000 by the year 2008) for use anywhere in the State with the exception of New York City. Language also was approved to impose further safety standards on permitted vehicles, which standards further reduce the impact of the weights on roads and bridges. Additionally, the new statute authorizes DOT to conduct hearings for permit violations, and modifies the fine schedule for violations occurring outside New York City.

1National Center for Statistics and Analysis, Research and Development, Fatalities and Injuries to 0-8 Year Old Passenger Vehicle Occupants based on Impact Attributes, DOT HS 809 410 (March 2002).
2National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "New York Toll of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2002." State Traffic Safety Information for Year 2002.
3J. Mayrose, D. Jehle, Hayes, D. Tinnesz, G. Piazza, G. Wilding. "Influence of the unbelted rear-seat passenger on driver mortality: ’The backseat bullet.’" Abstract, Academic Emergency Medicine 11(5):442 (2004)
4See also Assembly bills 726-A, 773-C and 2129-A under "Dangerous Drivers," pages 8 - 12.
5"Special Traffic Options Program - Driving While Intoxicated," see Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1197.
6Chapter 667 of the Laws of 2004 enacted a straight five-year extender of this Program.
7Trust for America’s Health, F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America (October 2004).


Preventing Deaths and Injuries Caused by Reckless or Negligent Drivers
Albany, January 21, 2004
New York City, February 27, 2004

The Assembly Standing Committees on Codes and Transportation conducted two joint public hearings in January and February of this year to examine issues concerning traffic fatalities and injuries caused by reckless and negligent drivers. While New York has made significant strides in recent years in reducing deaths and serious injuries caused by motor vehicles, a number of recent tragic crashes made it clear that much more needs to be done.

In 1982, more than 2,100 people were killed in incidents involving motor vehicles. Despite a large increase since 1982 in the number of vehicles registered and the number of vehicle miles traveled within the State, this number dropped to 1,522 by 2002, and the fatality rate (number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled) dropped by more than half, from 2.69% to 1.14%. The reasons for this include the enactment of stricter laws and their tighter enforcement, improved roadway engineering, better safety equipment, and the education of the motoring and non-motoring public. Additionally, recent information indicates that New York City’s pedestrian fatalities have dramatically declined by more than half over the past ten years.

Despite these advances, tragic deaths and serious injuries have continued to be caused by drivers who operate their vehicles in a reckless or careless manner. Reducing drunk driving has been a critical element of New York’s highway safety efforts over the past two decades, but data indicates that more than two-thirds of traffic fatalities in New York State are not alcohol-related. Clearly, drivers don’t have to be drunk to be dangerous. Thus, an important focus of the joint hearings was to consider ways to eliminate deaths or injuries caused by reckless or negligent drivers where alcohol or drug use are not contributing factors.

During these hearings the Committees looked at which changes in the State’s criminal and civil laws would be the most effective in preventing additional motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries. The Committees also sought information on which traffic safety design measures have worked in New York and elsewhere to reduce deaths and injuries and how these measures could be strengthened, what type of enforcement efforts have worked to reduce deaths or injuries caused by reckless or negligent drivers and how these enforcement efforts could be improved, and what other steps New York could take to address this significant ongoing problem.

Witnesses who provided testimony at the joint hearing in Albany included Assemblymembers Jonathan Bing, Robert Prentiss and James Hayes; Chauncey Parker, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services; Ray Kelly, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; John Corlett, AAA New York; A.J. Castelbuono, New York Chapter of the Associated General Contractors, and four private citizens. Witnesses who testified at the joint hearing in New York City included New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) Commissioner Iris Weinshall; Maureen McCormack, Kings County District Attorney’s Office; Matthew Kluger, New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; Rick Muller, Manhattan Borough President’s Office; Harris Silver, City Streets; Doris Aiken, Remove Intoxicated Drivers; Denna Cohen, Long Island Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD); Christopher Cernik, NYS STOP-DWI Coordinators Association; and three private citizens (two of whom also testified in Albany).

Based upon information obtained from these hearings, the Assembly formulated a package of bills designed to be proactive in preventing traffic crashes before they happen, as well as increase penalties to deter drivers from engaging in dangerous driving activities (see Appendix D).

Department of Motor Vehicles Driver’s License Issues
New York City, August 19, 2004

Federal law requires the State of New York to obtain the Social Security Number (SSN) of persons applying for a New York State driver’s license. Within the last year, DMV began a process to verify the SSNs of every current licensee. Whenever a discrepancy appeared, DMV sent a letter to the licensee requiring him or her to verify his or her SSN within fifteen days of receipt of the letter, or risk having his or her driver’s license revoked.

In response to concerns raised about the effect of this verification process on current licensees, the Assembly Standing Committee on Transportation conducted a public hearing to examine DMV’s process for verifying driver SSNs. The hearing also was for the purpose of providing the Committee with information about the impact of this process on residents of the State and to give interested parties an opportunity to comment on this issue.

The following witnesses provided testimony to the Committee: DMV Commissioner Raymond Martinez; Arturo Sarukhan, Consulate General of Mexico in New York; Margie McHugh, Immigration Coalition; Deborah Notkin, American Immigration Coalition; Amy Sugimori, National Employment Law Project; Bruce De Cell, Al and Sally Regengard, 9-11 Families for a Secure America; Daniel Chavez, Asociacion Tepeyac of NY; John Bingham, Catholic Charities; Father James Kelly, St. Brigid’s R.C. Church; Father Ed Brady; Michael Hethmon, Federation for American Immigration Reform; Gail Hilson and Debra O’Toole, Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License; Jennifer Baum, Legal Aid Society; Yu Soung Mum, YKASEC (serving the Korean-American community); Carlos Orellana, Independent Farm Workers Center; Gouri Sadhwani, New York Civic Participation Project; Sam Quiah, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Margaret Stock, U.S. Military Academy; and numerous private individuals.

  1. OUTLOOK FOR 2005

The Committee will continue to oversee legislation affecting the transportation system of the State and the safety of the walking, biking and motoring public during the 2005 Legislative Session. The issues to be considered will continue to include, but are not limited to, dangerous drivers, driving while intoxicated, child passenger safety, improved disabled access, work zone safety, and school bus issues.

As always, the Committee will examine additional issues brought to its attention by legislators, staff, and, most importantly, the people of the State of New York.

Bills Reported With or Without Amendment
To Floor; not returning to Committee 5 5
To Floor; recommitted and died
To Ways and Means 51 51
To Codes 75 75
To Rules 12 12
To Judiciary ___ ___
Total 143 143
Bills having Committee Reference Changed
To Codes Committee 1 1
To Energy Committee 1 1
Total 2 2
Senate Bills Substituted or Recalled
Substituted 22 22
Recalled 4 4
Total 26 26
Bills Defeated in Committee
Bills Never Reported, Held in Committee
Bills Never Reported, Died in Committee 544 84 628
Bills Having Enacting Clauses Stricken 7 7
Motion to Discharge Lost ___ ___ ___
Total Number of Committee Meetings Held 13

A.47-B Lafayette
S.145-A Maltese
Creates the distinctive "Eighth Air Force Historical Society" license plate. Chapter 483
A.321-C Morelle
S.4162-B Balboni
Creates distinctive license plates for honorably discharged members of the U.S. Naval Armed Guard. Chapter 389
A.327 Lentol
S.426 Volker
Clarifies a provision of law relating to first degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Chapter 673
A.608 M. Cohen
S.4106 Maltese
Authorizes persons to plead guilty by mail to jaywalking in New York City. Chapter 182
A.613 Gantt
S.6717-A Kuhl
Authorizes the use of booster seats for children less than four years of age. Chapter 232
A.716 Gantt
S.112 Velella
Prohibits the listing of on-duty accidents on the personal driver’s license abstract of police officers. Chapter 71
A.728-A Gantt
S.4422-A Johnson
Eliminates the non-CDL C driver’s license and authorizes the operation of vehicles between 18,000 and 26,000 pounds with a class D driver’s license. Vetoed, Memo 259
A.767-A Stringer
S.173-A Hoffmann
Increases the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident causing injury to a guide dog, hearing dog or service dog. Chapter 672
A.996-A McEneny
S.1020-A Skelos
Prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle unless all passengers aged four, five and six years are restrained by an appropriate child restraint system, including booster seats. Chapter 509
A.1122-B Sidikman
S.6504-A Larkin
Requires children under age 14 to wear helmets when riding skateboards. Chapter 703
A.1154-C Tonko
S.697-C Seward
Extends motor vehicle franchise protections to sellers of snowmobiles and all terrain vehicles. Chapter 31
A.1920-E Thiele
S.924-E Lavalle
Creates the "Long Island Wine Region," consisting of the "North Fork Wine Trail" and the "Hamptons Wine Trail." Chapter 156
A.3930-B Gantt
S.1760-B Johnson
Requires DMV to establish a five year pilot program authorizing the use of the internet to provide point and insurance premium reduction courses. Vetoed, Memo 241
A.4260-A Magee
S.1876-A Kuhl
Requires motorists to drive at an appropriate reduced speed when passing by a parked emergency vehicle displaying lights. Chapter 211
A.4885 Tocci
S.1967 Larkin
Exempts all former prisoners of war, regardless of age, from the payment of motor vehicle registration fees when obtaining distinctive "Former Prisoner of War" license plates. Chapter 485
A.5029-A Morelle
S.3276-A Maltese
Creates the distinctive "N.Y. State Cultural Institutions and Museums" license plates. Chapter 486
A.6792-A Gantt
S.1735-A Skelos
Authorizes the use of changeable or multiple message signs on highways. Chapter 37
A.8610-B Rules/Brodsky
S.5236-B Spano
Creates an "ambulette" registration classification, and requires ambulettes to be registered as such. Vetoed, Memo 283
A.9265 Dinowitz
S.5852 Padavan
Requires parking violations bureaus to return fines for overturned violations within 30 days of the judgment overturning the charge. Chapter 515
A.9381-A Brodsky
S.5908-A Spano
Renames a portion of Route 141 in Westchester County as the "Mount Pleasant Veterans Memorial Highway." Chapter 216
A.9476-B Oaks
S.5926-B Nozzolio
Renames that portion of State Route 31 in Wayne County as the "Wayne County Veteran’s Memorial Highway." Chapter 338
A.9509 Calhoun
S.5934 Larkin
Renames the bridge across the Wallkill River on State Route 52 in Orange County as the "Walden Veterans’ Memorial Bridge." Chapter 490
A.9542-B Weisenberg
S.7564 Fuschillo
Creates the "Autism Society of America" distinctive license plate. Chapter 301
A.9571 Miller
S.5941 Saland
Renames the bridge across Wappingers Lake on State Route 9 in Dutchess County as the "Peter C. Furnari Memorial Bridge." Chapter 162
A.9661 Gromack
S.5900 Morahan
Exempts drivers engaged in the restoration of telephone service during emergencies from driver hours of service restrictions. Chapter 470
A.9670-A Lavelle
S.7254 Kuhl
Requires drivers to treat malfunctioning traffic lights as stop signs. Chapter 302
A.9702 Schimminger
S.5837-A Maziarz
Creates distinctive "water rescue team" license plates. Chapter 266
A.9705-A Galef
S.6835 Farley
Creates distinctive "Love Your Library" license plates. Chapter 303
A.9770 Hoyt
S.6110 Hannon
Repeals a requirement that DMV solicit a voluntary one dollar donation to the "Life Pass It On" trust fund. Chapter 701
A.9825 Parment
S.6136 McGee
Renames a portion of Interstate Route 86 in Chautauqua County as the "Chautauqua County Veterans Memorial Highway." Chapter 643
A.9915 Tocci
S.6146 Volker
Allows for the issuance of more than one set of distinctive license plates to prisoners of war, Purple Heart recipients, Gold Star Mothers, and their spouses. Chapter 732
A.9935 Cahill
S.6237-A Bonacic
Renames a portion of State Route 28 in Ulster County as the "New York State Troopers T. Michael Kelly and Kenneth A. Poorman Memorial Highway." Chapter 78
A.9958-A Manning
S.6654 Saland
Renames two bridges across the Taconic State Parkway in Dutchess County as the "Trooper Brian N. Rovnak Memorial Bridge" and the "Trooper Robert G. Dunning Memorial Bridge." Chapter 328
A.9996 McEneny
S.6331 Little
Renames Interstate Route 87 as the "Adirondack Veterans’ Memorial Highway." Chapter 562
A.10000 Sayward
S.6336 Little
Renames a bridge spanning the Hudson River in Warren and Saratoga Counties as the "Coopers Cave Bridge." Chapter 222
A.10002 Sweeney
S.6333 Johnson
Clarifies a provision of law relating to leaving the scene of a boating accident. Chapter 197
A.10004 Brodsky
S.6361 Spano
Authorizes the Village of Irvington, Westchester County, to implement a residential permit parking system. Chapter 346
A.10036-A Peoples
S.6321-A Volker
Renames a pedestrian overpass in the City of Buffalo as the "Police Officer Robert McLellan Memorial Overpass." Chapter 221
A.10040-A Sweeney
S.6854 Seward
Restricts the use of green lights to vehicles operated by volunteer ambulance service members. Chapter 349
A.10057-A Galef
S.7267-A Kuhl
Authorizes DOT to establish a "Safe Routes to School" Program. Chapter 444
A.10095 Gianaris
S.6533 Maltese
Authorizes the New York City DOT to adopt regulations authorizing the use of a portion of the Grand Central Parkway by single unit commercial vehicles. Chapter 223
A.10160 Bradley
S.6426 Leibell
Authorizes the Village of Mt. Kisco, Westchester County, to implement a residential permit parking system. Chapter 277
A.10172 Warner
S.6187 Libous
Renames a portion of State Route 201 in Broome County as the "Assemblyman Richard H. Miller Memorial Highway." Chapter 427
A.10176 Rules Makes a technical amendment to authorize DMV to collect a tax on motor vehicle registration fees on behalf of Westchester County. Chapter 34
A.10554-A McLaughlin
S.7164-A Padavan
Requires DMV to issue distinctive "Discover Queens" license plates. Chapter 283
A.10972 Rules/Nesbitt
S.6860 Maziarz
Renames a portion of State Route 104 in Orleans County as the "Orleans County American Legion Memorial Highway." Chapter 569
A.11035 Rules/Crouch
S.6832 Libous
Renames a portion of State Route 79 in Broome County as the "Lester R. Stone, Jr. Memorial Highway." Chapter 224
A.11181 Rules/Schimminger
S.7298 Kuhl
Authorizes the restoration of historic license plates. Chapter 710
A.11193 Rules/Perry
S.6722 Kuhl
Authorizes the use of "B-Train" assemblies to connect semi-trailers. Chapter 205
A.11234 Rules/Carrozza
S.7329 Stavisky
Renames a portion of the Cross County Parkway in New York City as the "100th Infantry Division Memorial Highway." Chapter 573
A.11394 Rules/Lafayette
S.5120 Kuhl
Eliminates the requirement for DMV to conduct an annual verification of the insurance status of motor vehicle registrants. Chapter 161
A.11663 Rules/Lafayette
S.7599 Padavan
Extends the authorization of the New York City Red Light Camera Program for five years. Chapter 667

A.52 Lafayette Would require motor vehicle repair shops to notify customers of their right to inspect repair work.
A.319 Cahill Would require drivers’ licenses to be imprinted with "ORGAN DONOR" on the front of all such licenses issued to those opting to become organ donors.
A.326 Cahill Would authorize the use of red or amber reflectors on bicycles.
A.369-A Greene
S.357-A Andrews
Would require DMV to issue distinctive "African-American Veteran" license plates.
A.373-A Englebright Would require DOT and the DSP to conduct a study of the synchronization of traffic lights in New York City and Long Island.
A.430 Lafayette
S.5400 Sabini
Would require DMV to charge out of state entities the same fees for inquiries as are charged by such other states.
A.456-A Brodsky
S.2522-A Spano
Would require the State to pay for the installation of traffic lights at entrances to schools.
A.588 Gantt
S.7389 Kuhl
Would define the term "electric assisted bicycle."
A.601 Gantt Would prohibit the operation of a pickup truck with passengers under the age of 18 in the cargo area, with limited exceptions.
A.605 Gantt Would limit the authority of DMV to suspend the license or registration of persons whose check to DMV is dishonored.
A.717 Gantt Would authorize the issuance of combination distinctive disabled license plates.
A.726-A Gantt Would require fine money paid for violating the terms of a conditional driver’s license to county STOP-DWI programs.
A.773-C Gantt Would create the crime "aggravated DWI," impose license revocation requirements for repeat offenders, require alcohol and substance abuse assessments and treatment, and expand the elements of vehicular homicide.
A.900-A Morelle Would require the Thruway Authority to install local attraction videos at Thruway service areas.
A.903 Lafayette
S.118 Alesi
Would remove the exemption for back seat passengers age 16 and over from wearing seat belts.
A.1439 Morelle Would provide legislative appointments to the Scenic Byways Board.
A.1457 Tonko Would direct the Thruway Authority to issue short-distance commuter passes in the Albany area.
A.1593 Schimminger
S.563 Maziarz
Would require suspension of boating privileges upon a DWI/DWAI conviction, and authorize suspension of a driver’s license upon a BWI/BWAI conviction.
A.1816-A Tokasz Would direct the Thruway Authority and DOT to install "TRUCK PARKING" signs.
A.1939-A Sweeney
S.497-A Johnson
Would direct DOT to establish an engineering and technician career development, recruitment and retention program.
A.1943 Tokasz
S.2435 McGee
Would prohibit tractor-trailers from making right turns at red lights.
A.2037 Tokasz Would direct the Thruway Authority to issue short-distance commuter passes in the northern Buffalo area.
A.2059 Smith
S.1293 Stachowski
Would direct the Thruway Authority to issue short-distance commuter passes in the southern Buffalo area.
A.2129-A Tokasz
S.2865-A McGee
Requires deposit of the mandatory surcharges imposed for DWI convictions to the credit of county STOP-DWI programs.
A.2130 Weisenberg Would require vessel registration numbers to be affixed to vessels.
A.2149-A McLaughlin Would allow the designation of parking spaces reserved for use by the disabled as tow-away zones.
A.2520-B McLaughlin Would increase fines for parking too close to a fire hydrant, in cases of actual emergency.
A.2586 McLaughlin Would require certain information on disabled children to be maintained on school buses.
A.2732-A McEneny
S.1239-A Breslin
Would authorize the City of Albany to implement a residential parking permit system.
A.2823-A Tonko
S.1344-A Farley
Would direct the Thruway Authority to establish a tourism information demonstration program.
A.3497 Englebright Would require the removal or covering of inapplicable highway work zone traffic control signs.
A.3601 Norman Would require DMV to establish rules and regulations for postponement of traffic hearings pursuant to statutory standards.
A.3686 Brennan
S.4121 Padavan
Would provide administrative remedies to persons whose vehicles are wrongfully towed.
A.3693 Koon
S.6542 Kuhl
Would require the Thruway Authority to issue short-distance commuter passes in the Rochester area.
A.4026 DiNapoli Would require the provision of portable mechanical devices for disabled persons on rental vehicles.
A.4648-A Grannis
S.6910 Alesi
Would prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle with children under age seven seated in the front seat, with limited exceptions.
A.4806-B Lafayette Would extend the New York City Red Light Camera Program until 12/1/09, and strengthen various statutory provisions of the Program.
A.5031-B Perry Would prohibit the operation of school buses with a capacity for ten or fewer passengers, unless all passengers are properly restrained.
A.5230-B Perry
S.230-B M. Smith
Would direct DMV to issue distinctive license plates for the New York City auxiliary police.
A.5471 Cahill Would require that access aisles of disabled parking spaces be marked with "NO PARKING ANYTIME" signs and diagonal stripes.
A.5476 Cahill Would codify the requirement that access aisles of disabled parking spaces measure at least eight feet in width.
A.5477-A Cahill Would require DMV to include information regarding wheelchairs in the annual summary of motor vehicle statistics.
A.5479-A Cahill Would require retail stores having off street parking to provide parking spaces for disabled access.
A.5484 A. Cohen Would require DMV to include in its annual report on accident statistics information on bicycle safety helmet usage.
A.5675 Lafayette Would require DMV to notify the insurers of recovered stolen vehicles when the owner cannot be found.
A.6905-A Gantt Would exempt pilots of authorized emergency vessels from certain vessel regulations while engaged in an emergency operation.
A.8237 Rules/Canestrari
S.1997 Robach
Would change the height requirements for motorcycle handlebars.
A.9526-C Gunther Would authorize physician assistants and nurse practitioners to supervise and direct the drawing of blood upon a police officer’s request for DWI evidence purposes.
A.9695-A P. Rivera
S.6181-A Balboni
Would prohibit the coating of license plates with artificial substances which conceal or obscure such plates from visual or photographic observation.
A.10418-A Gantt Would rename two bridges in Monroe County as the "General Casimir Pulaski Interstate 490 Memorial Bridge" and the "Supervisor Jack C. Hart Interstate 490 Memorial Bridge."
A.10419-B Gantt
S.6129-B Rath
Would authorize courts to require the reexamination of drivers by DMV.
A.10431 Hoyt
S.7050 Hannon
Would authorize DMV to solicit one dollar donations to the "Life Pass It On" Trust Fund.
A.11351 Rules/Bradley Would require police officers to note a death or serious physical injury on uniform traffic tickets issued as a result of a reportable accident.
A.11352 Rules/Lentol Would create the new crime of "Vehicular Homicide."
A.11363 Rules/Weisenberg Would increase the penalty for leaving the scene of a fatal accident to a class D felony, and for leaving the scene of a personal injury accident to a class A misdemeanor.
A.11392 Rules/Galef
S.1657-A Leibell
Would require the GTSC to implement a public education campaign on drowsy and inattentive driving, and require DOT to study rest area safety and security.
A.11393 Rules/Gantt Would impose upon drivers of pre-school and nursery school aged children the same qualifications and requirements as are imposed on school bus drivers.
A.11401 Rules/Smith Would require DMV, when processing accident reports, to give priority to those involving deaths or serious physical injuries.
A.11683 Rules/Eddington Would authorize Suffolk County to implement a red light camera program.

A.456-A (Brodsky) Traffic lights at school highway entrances
A.726 (Gantt) Disposition of fines for violating conditional use license
A.773-C (Gantt) Omnibus DWI bill
A.2129-A (Tokasz) Disposition of DWI surcharges to STOP-DWI programs
A.4260-A (Magee) Safety of emergency vehicles
A.4806-A (Lafayette) New York City Red Light Camera Program.
A.5031-A (Perry) Small school bus seat belts
A.9971-A (Seddio) Convex mirrors on trucks
A.10057-A (Galef) Safe routes to schools
A.10419-A (Rules/Gantt) Reexamination of drivers
A.11351 (Rules/Bradley) Traffic ticket notations
A.11352 (Rules/Lentol) Vehicular homicide
A.11363 (Rules/Weisenberg) Leaving the scene of an accident
A.11392 (Rules/Galef) Drowsy driving public education campaign and study
A.11393 (Rules/Gantt) Pre-school driver standards
A.11401 (Rules/Smith) Accident data prioritization
A.11453-A (Rules/Eddington) Accident investigation assistance

AAA American Automobile Association
ATV All Terrain Vehicle
BAC Blood Alcohol Concentration
BWAI Boating While Ability Impaired
BWI Boating While Intoxicated
CDC Centers for Disease Control
CPSC Consumer Product Safety Commission
DDP Drinking Driver Program
DMV New York State Department of Motor Vehicles
DOH New York State Department of Health
DOT New York State Department of Transportation
DSP New York State Division of State Police
DWAI Driving While Ability Impaired
DWI Driving While Intoxicated
GTSC Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee
MADD Mothers Against Drunk Driving
MPH Miles Per Hour
NCIPC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
NTSB National Transportation Safety Board
OPRHP New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
SFY State Fiscal Year
SSN Social Security Number
STOP-DWI Special Traffic Options Program - Driving While Intoxicated
USDOT United States Department of Transportation

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