Committee on

David F. Gantt - Chairman
Sheldon Silver - Speaker

December 15, 2005

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 2005 Annual Report of the Assembly Standing Committee on Transportation.

We can all be proud of New York State’s exemplary traffic safety record, which is based on a long history of strong legislative action, enforcement, and public education. Despite the fact that New Yorkers logged more than 133 billion vehicle miles in 2002, New York’s fatality rate was 1.1 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT). With 43 other states having higher fatality rates, New York's is one of the lowest in the nation. However, given the personal and economic toll that motor vehicle crashes impose upon individuals, families and communities, the Committee has continued to place a high priority on the further reduction of motor vehicle-related deaths and physical injuries. The work that the Committee accomplished during the 2005 Legislative Session resulted in the enactment of several bills that should further improve the safety of motorists and non-motorists.

Highway construction and maintenance work zones are an important component of the process of improving roads and bridges across the State, and the Committee is concerned about the safety of workers and of the public when traveling through work zones. As pointed out by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), conditions in highway work zones can include low light, low visibility, inclement weather, high vehicle speeds and, in congested areas, high traffic volume. Highway workers and motor vehicle occupants alike suffer deaths and injuries in work zones. Legislation enacted into law this year focuses attention on the dangers inherent in highway work zones. By establishing a public education safety program and requiring the relevant State agencies to take steps to improve work zone safety, the new law is intended to improve dangerous conditions in work zones and reduce the number of deaths and serious physical injuries occurring therein.

Children constitute some of the most vulnerable users of the highway system. Traffic experts indicate that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children aged two to fourteen. The Assembly Transportation Committee advanced a number of bills in 2005 designed to improve the safety of children, including legislation requiring the equipping of ice cream trucks with front crossing arms, prohibiting all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) from using non-rigid connections to tow inflatable devices carrying passengers, mandating that the State pay for the cost of installing traffic lights at school entrances, and prohibiting the use of booster seats with lap-only seat belts. Legislation also was passed to ban the operation of pickup trucks with children in the cargo area, prohibiting children under age seven from riding in the front seat of motor vehicles under most circumstances, imposing better oversight and scrutiny of bus drivers transporting pre-school aged children, and mandating the use of seat belts on school vehicles with a capacity of ten passengers or less.

The Committee succeeded this year in obtaining the enactment of legislation which significantly increased the penalty imposed upon drivers involved in hit and run crashes. Failure to stop after a crash is not only illegal, but it also displays a callous disregard for human life and suffering, often eliminating the opportunity for victims to receive prompt medical attention which could save their lives or otherwise reduce the effects of severe injuries. Raising the penalties for hit and run crashes, especially increasing the level of the crime of a fatal hit and run crash to a Class D felony, is intended to deter this crime and send a stronger message that the State will not tolerate such actions.

The Committee also advanced an omnibus driving while intoxicated (DWI) bill, the provisions of which address offenders with high blood alcohol concentrations (BACs), repeat offenders, and assessment and treatment requirements to prevent future violations. Additional legislation directed at addressing problems posed by dangerous drivers included a bill authorizing courts to require drivers to submit to reexamination by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), a bill requiring the creation of a public education program on the dangers of drowsy and distracted driving, and a bill mandating that DMV give priority to processing accident reports involving deaths and serious physical injuries.

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 2005 Session. With your continued leadership, we look forward to a productive Session in 2006.

David F. Gantt, Chairman
Assembly Standing Committee
on Transportation


David F. Gantt, Chairman

Committee Members


Ivan C. Lafayette
Paul D. Tonko
Harvey Weisenberg
Sam Hoyt
N. Nick Perry
Brian M. McLaughlin
John W. Lavelle
Frank R. Seddio
Darrel J. Aubertine
Michael J. Cusick
Joan L. Millman
Francine DelMonte
Jimmy Meng
George S. Latimer
Charles D. Lavine
Donna Lupardo

Patrick R. Manning
     Ranking Minority Member
Chris Ortloff
James Bacalles
David G. McDonough
Matthew Mirones
Jack Quinn

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. Safety and Equipment

    2. Occupant Protection

    3. Intoxication and Impairment

    4. Dangerous Drivers

    5. Disabled Access


  4. OUTLOOK FOR 2006





    1. Committee Jurisdiction

      New York State’s transportation network moves millions of people and tons of freight annually. This network includes a State and local highway and bridge system of more than 16,000 bridges and over 100,000 miles of highways, over which more than 130 billion vehicle miles are driven annually. Four hundred fifty-six public and private aviation facilities provide service to at least 31 million people annually. Twelve major public ports handle more than 110 million tons of freight each year. There also are 5,000 miles of operated railroads in the State, moving 42 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. Over 130 public transit operators serve in excess of 5.2 million passengers daily.

      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 2005 Legislative Session, 739 bills were referred to the Assembly Standing Committee on Transportation. A number ultimately were signed into law, including legislation enhancing safety at highway work zones, mandating the installation of front crossing arms on ice cream trucks, prohibiting the use of booster seats with lap-only seatbelts, and barring all-terrain vehicle (ATV) operators from pulling or towing any person on an inflatable device.

      The Assembly also acted upon a package of bills to crack down on dangerous drivers. The legislative package, designed to reduce injuries and fatalities attributable to dangerous driving behaviors, contained measures encompassing the traditional "Three E’s" of traffic safety: enforcement, engineering and education. Enforcement measures included increasing penalties for hit and run drivers, eliminating the element of criminal negligence in the crimes of vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter, the creation of two new crimes (vehicular homicide and aggravated driving while intoxicated [DWI]), the strengthening of sanctions against DWI, and the requirement that fatalities and serious physical injuries be noted upon all tickets issued for moving violations. Engineering measures included the assumption by the State of the costs of installing traffic lights at entrances to schools, the installation of convex mirrors on large trucks operating on local streets in New York City, and the prioritization of the processing of accident reports involving fatalities and serious physical injuries to allow for quicker identification of problem locations. 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. Additionally, the package included other safety-related measures, including standards for drivers of pre-school-aged children, the wearing of seat belts in smaller-sized school vehicles, and DMV reexamination of drivers.

      The Committee also conducted a public hearing on the Thruway Authority’s toll increase proposal, prior to its adoption by the Thruway Board, and a public hearing with the Assembly Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions on the New York State Canal Corporation.


    1. Safety and Equipment Highway Work Zone Safety
      (A.1691-A, Gantt; Chapter 223, Laws of 2005)

      Approximately 40 workers suffered fatal injuries at highway work zone sites in New York State between 1995 and 2002.1 The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reports that more than 1,000 persons nationwide (workers and non-workers combined) were killed in 2003 in highway work zone motor vehicle crashes. Given that there were in excess of 460 motor vehicle crashes in DOT work zones in New York in 2004, and that a risk of injury and death exists for all persons within a highway work zone whether they are workers, motor vehicle occupants, pedestrians or bicyclists, the Assembly passed legislation designed to reduce work zone crash-related deaths and injuries.

      The "Work Zone Safety Act" (the "Act," Chapter 223, Laws of 2005) directs DOT to establish, in conjunction with DMV, a "Highway Construction and Maintenance Safety Education Program" to provide education, advocacy and increased awareness of laws pertaining to highway and construction worker safety. The Act provides funding for this program through the imposition of a mandatory $50 surcharge on all convictions for speeding in a highway construction or maintenance work zone.

      The Act also requires DOT (in conjunction with the Division of the State Police [DSP], DMV, the Thruway Authority, local law enforcement agencies and representatives of contractors and laborers) to develop and implement rules and regulations for increased work zone safety. These rules and regulations would have to include provision for an increased police presence and the use of radar speed display signs in all major active work zones as would be defined in regulation, and a system for reviewing DOT work zone safety and design. Finally, the Act mandates the imposition of a 60 day driver’s license suspension for any person convicted two or more times of speeding in work zones.

      Ice Cream Trucks
      (A.1950-A, Karben; Chapter 608, Laws of 2005)

      As noted in a 1999 report by DMV entitled "Report on Frozen Dessert Vehicles and Cautionary Devices," there is little empirical data relating to frozen dessert ("ice cream") truck crashes that would prove the efficacy of any particular safety countermeasure. In fact, motor vehicle accident and violation statistics maintained by the State to do not distinguish ice cream trucks from any other commercial vehicle. However, children from various regions across the State have been fatally injured in ice cream truck-related crashes, including a nine-year old girl in the Hudson Valley, and a four-year old boy and a nine-year old boy in two separate crashes on Long Island.

      Ice cream trucks by their nature attract young children, who usually are not yet developmentally mature enough to understand all the dangers surrounding traffic situations, and who sometimes make spontaneous moves into traffic. Additionally, it is often difficult for motorists to see small children whose presence may be concealed by the ice cream truck.

      Chapter 608 of the Laws of 2005 expands the list of cautionary devices required to be affixed to ice cream trucks to include front crossing arms. Such arms, when extended perpendicular to the front bumper of an ice cream truck, force children to cross at a point further in front of an ice cream truck, thereby increasing the chance that a passing motorist will see them and avoid hitting them.

      ATV Towing
      (A.4436, Galef; Chapter 554, Laws of 2005)

      Section 2404 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law prohibits the operation of an ATV while drawing or towing a sleigh, sled, toboggan or trailer which carries or transports any person, unless attached by a rigid support, connection or tow bar. Using a rope, cable or chain for towing purposes can be very dangerous, because the strain placed on them and other components of the towing system can result in breakage, leading to the death or serious physical injury of the driver, passengers or bystanders. Chapter 554 of the Laws of 2005 extends the aforementioned rigid support, connection and tow bar requirements to the towing of inflatable devices (such as tubes) by ATVs.

      Event Data Recorders
      (A.872, McEneny; Chapter 648, Laws of 2005)

      Approximately 30 years ago, the first airbags installed in a small number of motor vehicles contained a data-recording feature for triggering airbag deployment. Over time, technological advances in this data-recording feature led to the development of on-board computer systems capable of recording a variety of data related to a vehicle’s operation a few seconds before, during and after a crash. Depending upon a vehicle’s model, the data that this system (commonly referred to as an "event data recorder," or "EDR") records can include vehicle and engine speed, brake status, throttle position, and other safety systems on the vehicle, such as the driver’s seat belt switch and the air bag deployment status for the driver and front passenger.

      The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that between 65 to 90 percent of model year 2004 passenger cars and light vehicles have some recording capability. Concerns have been raised regarding the privacy of persons whose vehicles are equipped with EDRs, including the extent to which information recorded by EDRs is available to persons other than the owner of the vehicle. Chapter 648 of the Laws of 2005 was enacted to address these privacy concerns. This new law requires new motor vehicle manufacturers to disclose, in or along with the vehicle owner’s manual, the existence of an EDR in any new vehicle sold or leased in this State. The law further prohibits the downloading or retrieval of data unless the owner or the owner’s agent or legal representative consents to the retrieval thereof, or in response to an order by a court or other judicial or administrative authority having jurisdiction, or for the purpose of improving motor vehicle safety, security or traffic management, provided that identifying information is removed. The law also authorizes data retrieval for the purpose of determining the need for, or facilitating emergency medical response to, a motor vehicle crash, and by a new motor vehicle dealer or licensed repair shop for the purpose of diagnosing, servicing or repairing such vehicle.

      In the event that a motor vehicle is equipped with an EDR that is capable of recording vehicle location or of transmitting information concerning a crash to a central communications system when a crash occurs, and such capability is part of a subscription service, then the law requires the disclosure of such capability in the subscription service agreement. The law also exempts subscription services which comply with the notification requirement from the restrictions on information retrieval.

    2. Occupant Protection

      Booster Seats
      (A.3357, McEneny; Chapter 18, Laws of 2005)
      (A.2374-A, Christensen; Chapter 598, Laws of 2005)

      Chapter 509 of the Laws of 2004, which took effect on March 27, 2005, prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle unless all passengers four, five and six years of age are restrained in an appropriate child restraint system, including booster seats, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards. Since its passage, two safety issues arose that were of concern to the Legislature. First, many vehicles which are currently on the road have at least one seating position in which the seat belt consists of a "lap-only" belt, with no shoulder harness. Although federal law has required front seat lap and shoulder belts for more than 30 years, NHTSA did not require combination lap and shoulder belts in the "rear outboard seating positions" until 1989 (vehicle model year 1990). Furthermore, NHTSA will not begin phasing in a requirement for combination lap and shoulder belts in the middle rear seating position until September 1, 2005.

      NHTSA states that booster seats should never be used with lap-only safety belts, because use of lap-only belts with booster seats places a child at risk of serious abdominal, spinal and other injuries. Therefore, given the number of vehicles equipped with lap-only safety belts in at least one seating position, the Legislature enacted A.3357 (Chapter 18, Laws of 2005), which requires booster seats to be used only in conjunction with combination lap and shoulder safety belts. If a four, five or six year old child is placed in a seating position that is equipped with a lap-only belt, the law would require that he or she be restrained only by such belt.

      The second issue brought to the Legislature’s attention was the number of children whose age subjects them to the booster seat requirement but whose weight exceeds the maximum weight limit (100 pounds) for booster seats currently available on the market. Chapter 509 of 2004 provided a height exception to the booster seat requirement, allowing any child whose height exceeds 4’9" to be restrained by a vehicle seat belt only. To prevent injuries that could be caused by the use of a booster seat with a child exceeding such seat’s maximum weight limit, the Legislature passed A.2374-A (Chapter 598, Laws of 2005) which expanded the exception for height to include an exception for weight (more than 100 pounds.)

      Seatbelt Use
      (A.2157, 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. However, at least thirty-nine percent of individuals actually killed in traffic crashes in New York State were not wearing their seat belts.2 The majority of unrestrained fatalities tend to occur among persons aged 16 to 54 years, followed by persons aged 55 and older, while occupants under the age of 16 suffer the fewest numbers of deaths due to failure to wear a seat belt.3

      There is a high personal and societal cost incurred from the failure of vehicle occupants to wear seat belts. The economic cost to New Yorkers of motor vehicle traffic crashes is $19.49 billion.4 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 unbelted passengers was three times higher.5

      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 2157 would close the final gap in the law by removing the age limitation on the statutory requirement to wear seat belts, to require all passengers aged 16 years and over who are seated in the middle or rear seating positions to buckle up.

      Pick-Up Truck Cargo Areas
      (A.96, 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 are the deaths 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 ejection due to collisions, swerving, braking or rough roads, but also to inhalation of 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 96 (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 Seven to Ride in Rear Seats
      (A.6917, 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.6917 (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 Impairment6

      Boating While Intoxicated
      (A.3313, Schimminger; Passed Assembly)

      The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) reports that there were 204 reported boating accidents in New York State in 2004, with 18 fatalities and 93 injuries (down from 34 and 137, respectively, in 2003). OPRHP’s statistics continue to indicate that, as a factor in boating accidents in New York State, alcohol involvement appears to be low. In 2004, alcohol was involved in only 13 accidents, four fatalities and ten injuries. 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 3313 (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

      Leaving the Scene of a Personal Injury or Fatal Crash
      (A.3327-A, Weisenberg; Chapter 49, Laws of 2005)
      (A.8551, Weisenberg; Chapter 108, Laws of 2005)

      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 and charged with leaving the scene of an accident, which is a class E felony.

      Chapter 49 of the Laws of 2005 (A.3327-A, Weisenberg) increases the penalty for leaving the scene of a personal injury accident from a class B to a class A misdemeanor and imposes a minimum $500, maximum $1,000 fine upon conviction. The new law also increases the penalty for leaving the scene of a fatal accident from a class E to a class D felony. Chapter 108 of the Laws of 2005 (A.8551, Weisenberg) changes the effective date of Chapter 49 to June 17, 2005 (from November 1, 2005.)

      Vehicular Assault, Vehicular Manslaughter ("Vasean's Law")
      (A.6285-B, McLaughlin; Chapter 39, Laws of 2005)

      Prior to 1983, persons who were driving while intoxicated or impaired by drugs and caused the serious physical injury or death of another person could only be charged with assault (a class A misdemeanor) or criminally negligent homicide (a class E felony) respectively. In order to elevate the seriousness of each respective offense when drunk or drug-impaired driving was the cause of the serious physical injury or death, the Legislature created the new crimes of vehicular assault (a class E felony) and vehicular manslaughter (a class D felony), by adding intoxication and drug impairment as aggravating factors to the existing crimes of assault and criminally negligent homicide. In 1985, these crimes were designated as second degree crimes, and first degree versions of each, at higher felony levels, were enacted to recognize additional aggravating factors.

      Vehicular Homicide
      (A.1653, 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.1653 (Lentol), which 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.

      Driving While Intoxicated
      (A.3692, 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 four percent of all police-reported accidents occurring within New York State, alcohol-related fatal crashes represent about eighteen percent of all fatal accidents.7 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 physical injury.

      Assembly bill 3692 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, as well as a one year driver’s license revocation. 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 when he or she is either convicted of certain alcohol or drug-related driving offenses or found to have refused to submit to a chemical test and his or her record shows two previous alcohol or drug-related driving convictions within four years or three previous alcohol or drug-related driving convictions within eight years.

        If the person obtains no further convictions for certain alcohol or drug-related driving offenses nor refuses a chemical test during the first five years of the permanent revocation period, and provides either proof of successful completion of a rehabilitation program or a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, the bill would require DMV to restore his or her license. However, the bill would allow DMV to deny such a restoration, on a case-by-case basis, for public safety and welfare reasons.

        Subsequent to the restoration of a permanently-revoked license, the bill would require DMV to re-impose permanent revocation on the driver’s license of any person who refuses a chemical test or is convicted of certain alcohol or drug-related driving offenses and whose record indicates that he or she has (a) three prior chemical test refusals and/or three prior alcohol or drug-related driving convictions within the preceding four years or (b) four such refusals and/or convictions within the preceding eight years.

        If a person obtains no further alcohol or drug-related driving convictions nor chemical test refusals during the eight year period after permanent revocation was re-imposed, and he or she provides both proof of his or her successful completion of a rehabilitation program and a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, the bill would grant DMV the discretion to restore his or her license.

      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.

      Disposition of STOP-DWI Fine Money
      (A.1688, Gantt; Passed Assembly)

      The STOP-DWI Program8, enacted in 1981, authorizes each of the State’s 62 counties to establish a local 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 a STOP-DWI program 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 1688 (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.

      Distribution of Mandatory Surcharge
      (A.953, Tokasz; Passed Assembly)

      In the SFY 2000-2001 and 2003-04 budgets, the Governor proposed and the Legislature enacted significant increases in the mandatory surcharges imposed on traffic violations9. A "driver responsibility assessment" was approved in the SFY 2004-05 budget, consisting of $250 per year for a total of three years upon conviction for DWI or DWAI, or for a finding of having refused a chemical test. The surcharge increases and the new assessment could have the unintended consequence of reducing the collection of DWI fines, which fund local STOP-DWI programs. Accordingly, the Assembly passed A.953 (Tokasz), which proposes that the surcharges (not including the driver responsibility assessment) imposed for all alcohol-related convictions under the Vehicle and Traffic Law and vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter under the Penal Law be returned to the county of conviction, to the credit of the applicable local STOP-DWI program.

      The State’s STOP-DWI Program has always had a commitment to maintain fines at a collectible amount. Earmarking the surcharges on alcohol-related convictions for local STOP-DWI programs 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 these programs.

      Uniform Traffic Ticket Notations
      (A.130, 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 130 (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.

      School Traffic Lights
      (A.1728, 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 there were concerns that safety could be limited by the constraints of local budgets. Assembly bill 1728 (Brodsky) would require the State to pay for the cost of providing and installing, at entrances to schools, traffic-control signals or flashing signals used in connection with regulating traffic. The State would not, however, be responsible for the cost of maintaining such signals.

      Truck Convex Mirrors
      (A.4322-C, Seddio; Passed Assembly)

      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. Assembly bill 4322-C would require all trucks, tractors, and tractor-trailer or semi-trailer combinations 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 to vehicles operating on local streets 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.

      Accident Data Processing
      (A.8169, Titus; 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 8169 (Titus) 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.

      Drowsy Driving
      (A.4473, Galef; Passed Assembly)

      NHTSA reports that, nationwide, drivers falling asleep while driving have been responsible for at least 100,000 motor vehicle crashes, 71,000 non-fatal injuries and more than 1,500 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 evidence that the driver attempted to avoid the crash. Thus, the true level of drowsiness-induced crashes may be underestimated, since the number of 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.4473 (Galef). This bill would require the GTSC, in cooperation with DMV, DOT, the Department of Health (DOH), the 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, 2006.

      Safe Transportation of Pre-School Children
      (A.1692, 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 requiring drivers of school buses to 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 1692 (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.

      Small-Sized School Bus Seat Belts
      (A.3740, Perry; Passed Assembly)

      School buses with a seating capacity of more than 10 occupants which are used to transport students in New York State are subject to federal safety standards such as high backed, padded seats, compartmentalized passenger areas and stricter structural standards for crash worthiness. Because these school bus safety features exceed those of a passenger vehicle, the State law mandating the use of seatbelts does 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, there is a gap in safety measures for smaller-sized vehicles: 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 school small vans and vehicles are in no less danger of injury than any other occupant of any other similar-sized van or car used for non-school purposes. 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 3740 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.

      Reexamination of Drivers
      (A.1632, Gantt; Passed Assembly)

      New York State drivers’ licenses are valid for an eight year period upon issuance or renewal thereof, 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 1632 (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 application.

    5. Disabled Access

      Towing from Parking Spaces
      (A.5779, McLaughlin; Chapter 199, Laws of 2005)

      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.5779 (McLaughlin). This bill, enacted as Chapter 199 of the Laws of 2005, authorizes the marking of disabled parking spaces as tow-away zones.

      Parking Space Access Aisle Width
      (A.7337, Paulin; Passed Assembly)

      Access aisles that are 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 7337 (Paulin) 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.7338, Paulin; 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 entering or exiting their vehicles. Assembly bill 7338 (Paulin) would require that each 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.5737, 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 of the total number of spaces, 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.5737, 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, 2007. This proposal would require facilities with one retail store with at least 20 off-street parking spaces to designate such spaces by July 1, 2009.

      Wheelchair Accident Statistics
      (A.5736, Cahill; Passed Assembly)

      Certain federal laws require transportation providers to transport disabled students and adults in their own wheelchairs. During one five-year study period from 1991 - 1995, nationwide an estimated 1,500 wheelchair occupants were injured annually in motor vehicle-related incidents, and improper or lack of securement of wheelchairs was a factor in more than one third of these incidents.10 In New York State, however, there is no way to easily determine the number of wheelchair occupants 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 5736 (Cahill) would require DMV to include in its annual summary of motor vehicle accidents, beginning in 2007, 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.2821, 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 a person with disabilities, this option generally is available only on medium and/or high priced category vehicles. Assembly bill 2821 (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. 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.

1S. Pegula, "Fatal occupational injuries at road construction sites," Monthly Labor Review (December 2004): 45.
2National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Center for Statistics and Analysis, Traffic Safety Facts 2003: A Compilation of Motor Vehicle Crash Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the General Estimates System, DOT HS 809 775, January 2005: Table 112.
3Ibid, p. 119
4National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "New York Toll of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2004," State Traffic Safety Information for Year 2004 (Washington, D.C., 2004), Table entitled "2000 Economic Cost of Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes."
5J. 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) (2004): 442.
6See also Assembly bills 953, 1688, 3692 and 6285-B under "Dangerous Drivers," pages 9-12.
7New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, "Accident Contributing Factors," Summary of Motor Vehicle Accidents 2003 Statewide Statistical Summary: Table 7(P).
8"Special Traffic Options Program - Driving While Intoxicated," see Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1197.
9Currently these surcharges are $25 for an equipment violation, $45 for a traffic infraction, $140 for a DWI misdemeanor, and $250 for a DWI felony, see Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1809.
10National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Center for Statistics and Analysis, "Wheelchair Users Injuries and Deaths Associated with Motor Vehicle Related Incidents," Research Note (Washington, D.C., September 1997): 1.


    New York State Canal Corporation
    Albany, Monday, February 7, 2005

    The Assembly Standing Committees on Transportation and Corporations, Authorities and Commissions held a public hearing in Albany on February 7th to obtain information regarding the activities of the New York State Canal Corporation with respect to the Erie Canal. Witnesses included Michael Fleischer, Executive Director, Michael Flynn, Director of Audit and Management Services, and Sharon O’Conor, General Counsel, all of the New York State Thruway Authority, and Scott Fein, Counsel for the New York State Thruway Authority. Issues covered by the hearing included the Canal Corporation’s process of document production and information on related Canal Corporation policies and practices. Witnesses provided testimony regarding the production of documents pursuant to legislative requests and subpoenas, and clarified issues involving access to, and the content of, Canal Corporation records relative to an agreement concerning the development of Canal property. Testimony also was offered that the Thruway Authority has instituted new policies and procedures with respect to openness and transparency on Authority decisions, including contract advertising and competitive processes, and the documentation of Authority decisions.

    Thruway Toll Proposal
    Rochester, Thursday, April 21, 2005

    The Assembly Standing Committee on Transportation, in conjunction with the Assembly Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, conducted a public hearing in Rochester on April 21st to provide an opportunity to the business community and the general public in the Rochester area to comment on the Thruway Authority’s (the "Authority’s") proposed toll plan. The Authority’s Board had initially approved a $2 billion multi-year capital plan to be funded by toll increases on passenger and commercial motor vehicles. While the Authority held four public hearings on this plan (in Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany and Suffern), it did not hold a hearing in Rochester. The Assembly’s hearing provided Rochester-area businesses and individuals an opportunity to present their comments on the proposal.

    Witnesses providing oral testimony included: Michael Fleischer, New York State Thruway Authority; William Joyce, Jr., New York State Motor Truck Association; Steve Stallmer, Associated General Contractors, New York State Chapter; John Marcelle, The Fort Miller Company, Inc.; Richard Trotta, Leonard’s Express, Inc.; James Bertolone, Rochester Labor Council; Kathleen Schreiner, Jim’s Enterprise, Inc.; Brian Dougherty, American Council of Engineering Companies of New York; John Knop, R.D.U., Inc.; George Gorman, ABATE; David Barth, Wegman's Food Markets, Inc.; Kevin Kyle and Bill Decker, Petro Shopping Center; and David Boyer, John Rynne, Embolla Ekille, and Geri Sehnert, New York State citizens. Additionally, State Senator David J. Valesky provided written testimony.

    The Thruway Authority’s testimony provided an overview of its proposal to increase tolls and modify the vehicle toll classification system, which determines the amount of tolls to be paid by particular types of vehicles. It also laid out the basic components of its multi-year capital plan, which includes improvements to over 500 highway miles, 225 bridges, and the creation of nearly 700 truck parking spaces. Four other witnesses11 indicated their support for the Thruway’s proposal, for reasons such as reducing congestion, relieving toll barrier choke points, providing a safe and efficient superhighway to foster economic growth, supporting jobs, and maintaining the Thruway as a viable and reliable means for transporting products to the marketplace.

    Witnesses attending the hearing who opposed12 the proposal cited various reasons for their opposition, such as the lack of uniformity in the percentage of the increase applicable to passenger versus commercial vehicles, the costs imposed on the Thruway for non-toll facilities such as Interstates 84 and 287 and the State’s canal system, the financial burden that increased tolls could place on small businesses which could affect their ability to remain in business, and the likelihood that commercial traffic would shift to alternate routes to avoid paying Thruway tolls.

    Impact of the State Budget on Upstate Transit Systems
    Albany, December 13, 2005

    The Assembly Standing Committee on Transportation conducted a public hearing in Albany on December 13th regarding the impact of the State budget on upstate transit systems. The hearing, held in conformance with Rule IV, section 4, paragraph b of the Rules of the Assembly, provided the Committee with an opportunity to assess upstate transit system programs and services funded by the 2005-06 State budget. The Committee sought testimony on transit capital issues such as vehicle acquisition, the state of good repair, the introduction of new technologies, and system infrastructure such as bus shelters, maintenance and fueling facilities. The Committee also sought testimony relating to the operating performance of upstate transit systems, including information on fare structures, paratransit and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and service and ridership levels.

    Witnesses included the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT); the New York Public Transit Association (NYPTA); various transit providers such as the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA), Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), Central New York Transportation Authority (CNYRTA), Westchester County Department of Transportation, and Ulster County Transit; the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU); the Capital District Coalition for Accessible Transportation (CDCAT); the New York Association for Independent Living (NYAIL); and the Citizens Regional Transit Corporation (CRTC).

    State DOT’s testimony covered a range of issues, including the increases in State funding for transit operating and capital assistance provided in the 2005-06 budget, a description of a variety of new technologies used to improve methods of service delivery, and trends in transit, such as long-term structural issues and costs. NYPTA spoke about the increased State operating aid, the "transit-supportive" five year capital plan and the $50 million Bond Act assistance provided in State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2005-06. NYPTA’s testimony also covered the effective use of new technologies, ADA and paratransit services, the need for fare policies that keep transit affordable, changing demographics, rising fuel costs, and an overview of the steps taken to improve transit efficiency.

    Transit providers testified on a variety of issues, including the higher service provided per capita in New York State due to comparatively high levels of State assistance. Transit providers also offered testimony on efforts to improve operations and efficiencies, new technologies such as the compressed natural gas (CNG) program, fare sensitivity, and various capital projects including bus replacements with diesel-electric hybrid clean air buses. Testimony on cost pressures, such as those from the rising costs of fuel, vehicle replacements, fleet maintenance, employee training, health benefits, and ADA compliance, was also given.

    CDCAT commended CDTA for its new fixed-route fare structure, and also testified about the need for a number of improvements, such as bus shelters, extended service, bus schedules in accessible formats, and updated bus equipment. NYAIL testified about the need for affordable and accessible transportation services, and laid out numerous priorities including subsidized transportation for persons with disabilities, the creation of formal complaint systems, and the creation of an advisory committee to NYSDOT.

    ATU recommended the use of bulk, statewide contracts for bus purchases, and investing in preventive maintenance. It also made recommendations with respect to the introduction of new technologies, updating maintenance and refueling facilities, giving priority to current employees for job openings, expanding service areas, adjusting fare structures for inflation, and ensuring that transit is responsive to persons with disabilities. CRTC spoke in support of upstate transit systems and for the designation of sufficient funds to help transit systems, including Buffalo’s light rail system, improve and expand in order to maintain effective public transit systems in New York State.

11The Associated General Contractors, the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York, Fort Miller Company, and the Rochester Labor Council.
12The New York State Motor Truck Association, Leonard’s Express Inc., Jim’s Enterprise Inc., R.D.U. Inc., Wegman’s Food Markets Inc., Petro Shopping Center, and some citizens.

  1. OUTLOOK FOR 2006

    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 2006 Legislative Session. The issues to be considered include, but are not limited to, dangerous drivers, driving while intoxicated, safety of motor vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians, improved access for the disabled, 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 12   12
To Floor; recommitted and died      
To Ways and Means 49   49
To Codes 75   75
To Rules 15   15
To Judiciary      
Total 151   151
Bills having Committee Reference Changed
To Education Committee 1   1
To Corporations Committee 2   2
To Tourism Committee 1   1
Total 4   4
Senate Bills Substituted or Recalled
Substituted   20 20
Recalled   5 5
Total   25 25
Bills Defeated in Committee      
Bills Never Reported, Held in Committee 496 60 556
Bills Never Reported, Died in Committee      
Bills Having Enacting Clauses Stricken 3   3
Motion to Discharge Lost      
Total Number of Committee Meetings Held 15    

A.787 Canestrari
S.2768 Robach
Changes the height requirement for motorcycle handlebars and grips. Chapter 395
A.872 McEneny
S.850 Trunzo
Requires manufacturers to disclose the installation of event data recorders on new motor vehicles, and restricts the disclosure of information contained in such devices. Chapter 648
A.1691-A Gantt
S.4885-B Libous
Requires DOT to establish a highway work-zone safety public education program, and work-zone safety standards. Chapter 223
A.1950-A Karben
S.3025-A Morahan
Requires the installation of front crossing arms on ice cream trucks engaged in retail sales of frozen desserts. Chapter 608
A.2156 Lafayette
S.3206 Larkin
Requires notice to vehicle insurers of the impoundment of stolen motor vehicles, where the owner cannot be found. Vetoed, Memo 37
A.2349-B Latimer
S.1219-A Volker
Requires DMV to issue distinctive license plates for members of the Kiwanis. Vetoed, Memo 24
A.2374-A Christensen
S.217-A DeFrancisco
Creates a defense for a ticket issued for failure to use a booster seat, if the 4, 5 or 6 year old passenger was over 100 pounds and restrained in a seat belt. Chapter 598
A.2582 Gantt
S.1469 Robach
Renames a portion of Interstate 490 as the "Erie Canal Expressway." Chapter 494
A.2625-A Gantt
S.5801 Johnson
Directs DMV to implement a pilot program for the provision of on-line point and insurance reduction courses. Chapter 751
A.3327-A Weisenberg
S.4584 Marcellino
Increases penalties for leaving the scene of a personal injury accident without reporting. Chapter 49
A.3357 McEneny
S.3089 Skelos
Prohibits the use of booster seats with lap-only seat belts. Chapter 18
A.3703 Sayward
S.1881 Little
Renames a bridge over Interstate 87 in the Town of Lewis, Essex County, as the "Justin Wrisely Garvey Memorial Bridge." Chapter 551
A.3796 Morelle
S.4880 Rath
Adds two new members to the Scenic Byways Advisory Board, one each to be appointed by the Senate and Assembly. Chapter 399
A.4225 P. Rivera
S.1786 Balboni
Prohibits covering license plates with any synthetic or artificial material which conceals or obscures such plate from visual or photographic observation. Chapter 109
A.4435-A Galef
S.2233-A Leibell
Renames a portion of Route 9D within Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester Counties as the "Hudson Valley POW/MIA Memorial Highway." Chapter 496
A.4436 Galef
S.2232 Leibell
Prohibits ATV operators from pulling or towing a person on an inflatable device. Chapter 554
A.4790 Hooper
S.1686 Fuschillo
Requires DOT to install signs on the Southern State Parkway and Interstate 490 indicating the direction of the Long Island National Cemetery. Chapter 495
A.5490 Cahill
S.3640 Winner
Exempts from the 10-mile restriction on the towing of over-length vehicles the distance to the nearest exit on a controlled-access highway. Chapter 669
A.5624 Magnarelli
S.677 Marcellino
Requires DMV to issue distinctive license plates for veterans who served in the Persian Gulf. Chapter 493
A.5779 McLaughlin
S.2940 Marchi
Allows parking spaces designated for use by the disabled to be marked as tow-away zones. Chapter 199
A.6146 McLaughlin
S.3100 Fuschillo
Requires certain information on disabled children to be maintained on school buses transporting such children. Chapter 447
A.6554 Sayward
S.3412 Little
Authorizes the renewal and extension of a franchise to operate a ferry across Lake Champlain. Chapter 612
A.6672 Lafayette
S.3674 Maltese
Establishes the Eighth Air Force Historical Society Fund for veterans’ counseling services. Chapter 266
A.6721-A Bradley
S.3624-A Leibell
Removes from DOT regulation certain taxi and livery services subject to local municipal regulation. Chapter 330
A.6871-B Kolb
S.1567-B Nozzolio
Authorizes the operation of tandem tractor trailers for a restricted distance from Thruway Interchange 41. Chapter 333
A.7264-B Abbate
S.4504-B Maziarz
Requires DMV to issue distinctive paid professional firefighter license plates. Vetoed, Memo 27
A.7421 Paulin
S.5072 Spano
Requires the installation of automatic fire suppression systems on school buses used to transport students who use wheelchairs or other assistive mobility devices. Chapter 453
A.7493-A Magee
S.4645-A Libous
Authorizes DMV to enter into interstate agreements for the reciprocal recognition of the agricultural truck registration class. Chapter 416
A.7498 Schimminger
S.117 Maziarz
Creates the New York State Water Rescue Team Awareness and Research Fund. Chapter 224
A.7534 Gantt
S.2397 Alesi
Makes permanent a law authorizing the operation of household goods trucks between 18,000 and 26,000 pounds with a Class D driver’s license. Chapter 151
A.7535 Gantt
S.2464 Johnson
Authorizes the use of a Class D driver’s license to operate any truck less than 26,000 pounds. Chapter 339
A.7550-B Weisenberg
S.4708-B Skelos
Requires DMV to issue distinctive "Oceanside Auxiliary Police -Unit 119" license plates. Vetoed, Memo 35
A.7576-B Mosiello
S.5111-B Spano
Authorizes the City of Yonkers to establish a residential permit parking program. Chapter 724
A.7626 Canestrari
S.4710 Bruno
Renames a portion of Interstate 90 in Rensselaer County as the "Rensselaer County Veterans’ Memorial Highway." Chapter 305
A.7697-C Morelle
S.4697-D Golden
Requires DMV to issue distinctive "Made in NY" license plates. Vetoed, Memo 29
A.7751 Zebrowski
S.4011 Morahan
Exempts drivers engaged in the emergency restoration of water service from hours of service restrictions. Chapter 302
A.7884-A Cusick
S.4719-A Seward
Authorizes for-hire vehicle entities and rental vehicle companies to purchase an amount of liability insurance in excess of the maximum liability incurred prior to indemnification. Chapter 677
A.8059-A Millman
S.5148-B Golden
Prohibits the attachment of handbills or advertisements by any means to vehicles in New York City. Chapter 624
A.8100 McEneny
S.5501 Flanagan
Makes permanent the authorization for DOT to promulgate regulations relating to child safety zones. Chapter 153
A.8117 Quinn
S.5319 Volker
Renames a portion of U.S. Route 219 in Erie County as the "Arthur Benson Memorial Highway." Chapter 580
A.8449 Ignizio
S.5497 Marchi
Authorizes DOT to transfer a parcel of land to the City of New York for park and recreational use. Chapter 731
A.8450 Gantt
S.4058 Libous
Repeals provisions requiring DOT to retain certain percentages of contract payments for State highway and bridge contracts. Chapter 303
A.8451 Magee
S.5262 Seward
Designates a portion of State Route 20 as the "Route 20 Scenic Byway." Chapter 492
A.8523 Gantt
S.4059 Libous
Authorizes the Thruway Authority to set fees for advertising devices by regulation. Chapter 617
A.8532 Butler
S.5687 Seward
Renames the bridge over the Erie Canal in Little Falls, Herkimer County, as the "Doctor Bernard J. Burke Memorial Bridge." Chapter 282
A.8551 Weisenberg
S.5493 Marcellino
Changes the effective date of Chapter 49 of the Laws of 2005 (relating to "hit and run" incidents) from November 1 to immediately. Chapter 108
A.8683-A Rules/Destito
S.5550-A Valesky
Renames the bridge over the Barge Canal in the City of Rome, Oneida County, as the "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge." Chapter 589
A.8685-A Rules/Hoyt
S.5468-B Maziarz
Requires DMV to issue distinctive "Buy American" license plates. Vetoed, Memo 90
A.8744-A Rules/Gantt
S.5760 Young
Renames a portion of State Route 19 in Allegany County as the "William C. Hennessy Memorial Highway." Chapter 312
A.8767 Rules/Pretlow
S.5226 Libous
Authorizes the operation of tandem tractor trailers over a portion of Stew Leonard Drive near the Yonkers toll barrier. Chapter 626
A.8916 Rules/Townsend
S.5752 Meier
Renames the bridge on State Route 28 over the Forestport Reservoir in Oneida County as the "Private Gregory Huxley, Jr. Memorial Bridge." Chapter 594
A.8949 Rules/Parment
S.5800 Young
Renames a portion of State Route 430 in Chautauqua County as the "Senator Jess J. Present Memorial Highway." Chapter 595

A.67 Gantt Would limit the authority of DMV to suspend the license or registration of persons whose check to DMV is dishonored.
A.71 Gantt Would define the term "electric assisted bicycle."
A.96 Gantt Would prohibit the operation of a pickup truck with passengers under the age of 18 in the cargo area, with limited exceptions.
A.130 Bradley
S.3646 Leibell
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.185 Lafayette Would require motor vehicle repair shops to notify customers of their right to inspect repair work.
A.290-B Christensen
S.3692-B Spano
Would authorize police vehicles engaged in emergency operations to use blue lights in conjunction with red or combination red/white lights.
A.456 Lafayette
S.1250 Sabini
Would require DMV to charge out of state entities the same fees for inquiries as are charged by such other states.
A.707-A Sweeney
S.683 Johnson
Would direct DOT to establish an engineering and technician career development, recruitment and retention program.
A.839 Tokasz
S.87 McGee
Would prohibit tractor-trailers from making right turns at red lights.
A.952-A Tokasz
S.2767-A Robach
Would require DMV to issue distinctive "Healthy Heart" license plates.
A.953 Tokasz
S.2284 McGee
Would require the deposit of the mandatory surcharges imposed for DWI convictions to the credit of county STOP-DWI programs.
A.954 Tokasz
S.1734 Stachowski
Would direct the Thruway Authority to issue short-distance commuter passes in the northern Buffalo area.
A.1044 Greene
S.529 Andrews
Would require DMV to issue distinctive "African-American Veteran" license plates.
A.1157 Grannis Would require parking garages to install and operate pedestrian warning devices.
A.1166 Morelle Would require the Thruway Authority to install local attraction videos at Thruway service areas.
A.1632 Gantt
S.2908 Rath
Would authorize courts to require the reexamination of drivers by DMV.
A.1653 Lentol Would create the new crime of "Vehicular Homicide."
A.1688 Gantt Would require fine money paid for violating the terms of a conditional driver’s license to county STOP-DWI programs.
A.1692 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.1693 Gantt Would authorize the issuance of combination distinctive disabled license plates.
A.1728 Brodsky
S.4749 Spano
Would require the State to pay for the installation of traffic lights at entrances to schools.
A.1881-A DelMonte
S.944-A Brown
Authorizes the City of Niagara Falls to establish a residential permit parking program.
A.2157 Lafayette
S.3582 Alesi
Would remove the exemption for back seat passengers age 16 and over from wearing seat belts.
A.2354 Tonko
S.1210 Farley
Would direct the Thruway Authority to establish a tourism information demonstration program.
A.2742 Norman Would require DMV to establish rules and regulations for postponement of traffic hearings pursuant to statutory standards.
A.2821 DiNapoli Would require the provision of portable mechanical devices for disabled persons on rental vehicles.
A.3115 Sweeney
S.4292 Flanagan
Would require that 100% of monies received in annual service charges for certain distinctive license plates are deposited in their respective dedicated funds.
A.3313 Schimminger
S.2280 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.3437-A Perry Would direct DMV to issue distinctive license plates for the New York City auxiliary police.
A.3632 Cahill Would authorize the use of red or amber reflectors on bicycles.
A.3692 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.3740 Perry Would prohibit the operation of school buses with a capacity for ten or fewer passengers, unless all passengers are properly restrained.
A.3795 Morelle
S.981 Skelos
Would increase the motor vehicle property damage accident reporting threshold from $1,000 to $2,000.
A.3876 A. Cohen Would require DMV to include in its annual report on accident statistics information on bicycle safety helmet usage.
A.3978 Weisenberg Would require vessel registration numbers to be affixed to vessels.
A.3995 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.4322-C Seddio
S.2210-B Golden
Would require that certain trucks operating on local streets in New York City be equipped with convex mirrors.
A.4473 Galef
S.3512 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.5195 Englebright Would require the removal or covering of inapplicable highway work zone traffic control signs.
A.5437 Canestrari
S.9452 Bruno
Would authorize the City of Rensselaer to establish a residential permit parking program.
A.5736 Cahill Would require DMV to include information regarding wheelchairs in the annual summary of motor vehicle statistics.
A.5737 Cahill Would require retail stores having off street parking to provide parking spaces for disabled access.
A.5778 McLaughlin
S.2939 Maltese
Would increase fines for parking too close to a fire hydrant, in cases of actual emergency.
A.5790 Aubertine
S.1195 Golden
Would require DMV to issue non-driver identification cards free of charge to supplemental security income (SSI) recipients who are age 62 years or more.
A.6799-A Colton
S.3643-A Marcellino
Would require DMV to issue distinctive "New York Recycles" license plates.
A.6917 Grannis
S.3980 Alesi
Would prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle with children under age seven seated in the front seat, with limited exceptions.
A.7337 Paulin
S.4873 Morahan
Would codify the requirement that access aisles of disabled parking spaces measure at least eight feet in width.
A.7338 Paulin
S.4871 Morahan
Would require that access aisles of disabled parking spaces be marked with "NO PARKING ANYTIME" signs and diagonal stripes.
A.7441 Latimer Would require the Thruway Authority to discontinue the New Rochelle toll barrier.
A.8169 Titus Would require DMV, when processing accident reports, to give priority to those involving deaths or serious physical injuries.
A.8661 Rules/McEneny
S.5554 Breslin
Would authorize the City of Albany to establish a residential permit parking program.