The Transporter | NCSL's Transportation Newsletter


Rhode Island Approves Commercial Vehicle Tolls 

The Rhode Island Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 2246 which enacts the RhodeWorks plan to improve transportation infrastructure in the state. The legislation, which garnered national attention over recent months, will raise new transportation revenues for bridge repairs most notably via new tolls. The average toll rate, which is only imposed on commercial vehicles, will be $3 with a daily cap of $20.

States Debate Weapons on Drones

Following stories of a young man equipping a drone with a gun and, a few months later, a flamethrower, the Connecticut legislature considered legislation that would make it a class C felony to attach weapons to drones. This legislation passed the House but did not pass the Senate. A number of other states have also considered legislation related to the weaponization of unmanned aircraft, including Kentucky, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Curfew Restrictions on Teen Drivers

Teen study found that curfew restrictions on teen drivers, included in many states as part of a graduated driver licensing (GDL) law, result in fewer teens being arrested for certain crimes, such as larceny and assault. For more information on GDL Laws visit NCSL’s website on teen drivers


Electric Vehicle Fee Legislation

Electric car

Identified by State Legislatures Magazine as an emerging policy topic, an expanded number of legislatures have begun to consider legislation to create additional registration fees on hybrid or electric vehicles. Currently 10 states impose such fees. To date in 2016, at least 11 states have introduced legislation to impose or alter registration fees for alternative fueled vehicles.

States Adding Medical Information to Driver's License

License plate and keysIn the last two years, many states have passed legislation allowing medical information to be displayed on a driver’s license, helping medical personnel during the crucial moments in an emergency. Louisiana allows a driver’s license applicant to put their blood type on the back of their driver’s license and the Georgia Department of Driver Services began offering the same option in 2014. In 2016, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania are considering similar bills. For information on these bills, see NCSL’s State Traffic Safety Legislation Database and select “Driver’s Licensing.”


Webinar | Navigating the FAST Act:  Exploring State Highway Safety Incentive Grants 

webinar globe logo.Join NCSL on Thursday, May 26 for an update on the highway safety incentive grants available to states in the latest federal transportation reauthorization—The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.  Title IV of the FAST Act provides grants to states to advance a number of traffic safety-related programs. This webinar will highlight how the FAST Act includes new, more flexible criteria for states to qualify for this funding and advance highway safety in the coming years. Click here to register for the Navigating the Fast Act webinar.

Take a Deep Dive on State Transportation Funding

NCSL recently launched the new Deep Dive on Transportation Funding. This fresh new webpage is a one-stop-shop for all things transportation funding; providing insight on the most pressing issues and trends in state transportation funding, including the latest research and spotlights on emerging transportation funding approaches. 

What's Trending in Traffic Safety?

Slow painted on road way.NCSL traffic safety experts, Anne Teigen, Doug Shinkle and Amanda Essex, unveiled their annual report examining traffic safety state legislative trends.  The report explores 2015 legislation addressing occupant protection, distracted driving, driver licensing, impaired driving, aggressive driving, speed limits, motorcycle helmets, automated enforcement, school bus safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety and other traffic safety topics.

NCSL Foundation Partnership on Multi-Sector Public-Private Partnerships

NCSL’s Transportation Program in conjunction with the NCSL Foundation will be kicking off a new Foundation Partnership on Multi-Sector Public-Private Partnerships this spring. This year-long initiative will leverage existing NCSL research on transportation P3s to inform a new policy discussion surrounding the use of P3s for other sectors of infrastructure. A steering committee of legislators, legislative staff and private sector partners will be formed to guide the partnerships’ work in 2016 and 2017.

Shifting Gears: How the FAST Act Might Help States Find More Sustainable Transportation Revenue

Finance and budget.NCSL transportation experts Kevin Pula and Ben Husch wrote a feature article for the May edition of State Legislatures Magazine examining the future of road use charges. This article highlights recent state legislation and pilot programs as well as financial support from the federal government in the form of a new competitive grant program for states.

Statehouses Debate Drone Legislation 

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), better known as drones, have been garnering quite a bit of legislative attention over the past few years. In 2016, at least 41 states have considered legislation to regulate UAS, with eight states passing new laws thus far. To learn more about state action, visit NCSL's Current Unmanned Aircraft State Law Landscape webpage.

P3 Statute Analysis and Categorization

NCSL’s Transportation Program recently released a new comprehensive report analyzing and categorizing all enabling state statutes for transportation public-private partnerships (P3s). Laws from 33 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico are examined across a matrix of nearly 40 provisions. This report provides legislators and P3 stakeholders with a straightforward and unique examination of state law regarding transportation P3s. 

Locked Out!

NCSL Traffic Safety expert Anne Teigen wrote a feature article for the March edition of State Legislature’s magazine discussing how ignition interlock systems, along with better monitoring and stricter penalties, have a 30 year track record of keeping drunken drivers off our roads.

Save the Date

Legislative Summit logo.NCSL’S Legislative Summit will take place August 8 to 11 in Chicago. On the transportation front, there will be a session on alternative funding options for transportation, a “deep-dive” that immerses attendees into the rapidly approaching future of autonomous vehicles and connected vehicle technology, the always popular Bipartisan Bike Ride and a pre-conference on utilizing public-private partnerships for public infrastructure, with more transportation-centric sessions possibly in the works. 

National Meeting on P3s and Transportation Funding 

NCSL will be convening two panels of state legislators for the American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) annual Public-Private Partnerships Conference and Transportation Funding Workshop, Jul. 13-15 in Washington D.C. Lawmakers from Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Washington will be traveling to D.C. in July to discuss recent successful and unsuccessful transportation funding packages as well as the merits and shortfalls of utilizing public-private partnerships to deliver infrastructure projects. State legislators interested in attending either of these events can contact Kevin Pula to inquire about a discounted registration.

NCSL out and about

60 Seconds of Transportation

NCSL's Doug Shinkle offers a short overview on shared transportation options such as Uber, Lyft and car2go and the policy issues they pose for state lawmakers. Click here to see the shared transportation video.

Nevada Creates Center for Autonomous Vehicles

autonomous vehicle.NCSL staffer Anne Teigen attended an Autonomous Vehicles Public Policy Workshop, jointly sponsored by American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and hosted by the Nevada DMV and Nevada DOT in January to discuss autonomous vehicle technology. The meeting's objective was to share and explore different approaches to regulations and public policy across the country. At the meeting, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval announced that within a month, a center for autonomous vehicles would be created within his economic development office. The office would assist companies looking to test or build their vehicles in Nevada the same way that the state now helps companies with unmanned aerial vehicles. For more information visit NCSL’s website on Autonomous Vehicles.  

NCSL Staff attend National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) meeting in Colorado on "Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety"

Dr. Mark Rosekind, Amanda Essex and Doug ShinkleNCSL staff Amanda Essex and Doug Shinkle attended one of five NHTSA meetings across the nation focused on how human choices impact traffic safety. Presentations included information on the use of traffic safety data, innovations in changing behavior, successful strategies in changing behavior and pragmatic solutions in the real world. Doug was a member of a panel discussing real world solutions. Amanda and Doug were excited for the opportunity to take a selfie with Dr. Mark Rosekind, the NHTSA Administrator.

NCSL Talks Drone Regulations at the State and Federal Level at FAA Symposium

The FAA hosted a symposium on UAS in conjunction with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on April 19-20, 2016, bringing together stakeholders to discuss various topics related to UAS. NCSL staff Amanda Essex and Ben Husch were on a panel discussing federal, state and local regulation of UAS. Resources from the symposium will be available online.

NCSL Staff Learns About Managed Lanes 

NCSL Staff Kevin Pula recently traveled to Miami, Florida to attend the Transportation Research Board’s 15th Annual Managed Lanes Conference. Experts from around the country attended to discuss the latest policy, technology and operational trends in the industry. With states considering a wide range of approaches to ensure sustainable transportation funding and full utilization of existing capacity, managed lanes have become a hot topic in statehouses around the country.


FAA Reauthorization Passes Senate, Uncertainty Remains on Preemption of State Drone Laws

Drone in the air flying.The Senate passed a 17-month reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The bill also includes a number of provisions related to airport security in the wake of the terror attacks in Brussels, as well as language pertaining to increasing the safety of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). Unfortunately, the final version of the bill included a short section (2152) preempting states and localities from enforcing or enacting any laws pertaining to drones. NCSL will continue to work with both chambers to remove this language before a final FAA reauthorization is signed into law. For a complete summary of the Senate FAA reauthorization click here. In the House, it is uncertain when the chamber will take up the reauthorization bill that was approved by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee earlier this year. Current authorization for the FAA expires in mid-July.

FAST Act – NCSL Analysis 

On Dec. 4, 2015 the president signed into law the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a five-year reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs. Overall, the FAST Act provides noticeable increases in funding, with levels for highways increasing by 15 percent by 2020. Check out NCSL’s analysis of the FACT Act, including a breakdown of the key funding and policy changes for states. Join NCSL for an update on the highway safety incentive grants available to the states in the latest transportation reauthorization--The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. This webinar will highlight how the FAST Act  includes new, more flexible criteria for states to qualify for this funding and advance highway safety in the coming years.  Click here for more information and to register for the Navigating the FAST Act webinar.

Senate Committee Passes Ports and Waterways Infrastructure Bill

Drinking water getting a glass of water.The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved S. 2848, the Water Resources Development Act of 2016. The bill authorizes $9 billion for 25 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in 17 states designed to improve ocean and river ports, barge traffic and flood control. Additionally, the bill includes funding for drinking water and waste water infrastructure in response to the emergency drinking water contamination facing Flint, Mich., and other similar communities across the country. The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration; a companion bill in the House has not been released.

DOT Releases Proposed Rule to Assess Carbon Impact of Transportation Projects 

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released a proposed rulemaking outlining new performance measures that would require states to assess how planned projects would contribute to carbon emissions, although the rule would not force decisions based on such assessments. Several cities and states, including California, Oregon, and Massachusetts already take such calculations into account. The proposed rule is a requirement of MAP-21, the surface transportation law approved in 2012.

Recommendations for Small Drone Operations Released 

The Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee released its report and recommendations of performance-based regulations that would allow certain types of unmanned aircraft to operate over people not directly involved in the flight of the aircraft. The report recommends establishing four small UAS categories, defined primarily by risk of injury to people below the flight path. For each category, the group recommends assigning a potential risk linked to either weight or impact energy. The report also addresses operational restrictions and standards to minimize the associated risks, including a minimum operating distance of 20 feet above people on the ground, along with takeoff and landings being at least 10 feet away from bystanders. 


Transit Project Openings and Construction Starts Planned for 2016

Orange construction cones.In the U.S., Canada and Mexico, projects costing a total of $70 billion and representing more than 470 miles of new, fixed-guideway transit will be under construction by the end of 2016, with completion expected in the coming decade. 


Gas Prices Impact on Per-capita Vehicle Miles Traveled Examined

Paul Hodges, an industry analyst, provides a unique perspective on the relationship between per capita Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and U.S. gas prices. American’s relationship with personal automobiles and driving has undoubtedly shifted in the last five decades. Paul discusses whether we have reached “peak car” in the U.S., and what factors might be driving the decline in per capita VMT. Is it purely an economic issue or are other factors driving a decrease in personal travel habits?

NHTSA Fact Sheet on Older Drivers

Photo of seniors dancing.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a new fact sheet on Older Driver Safety. In 2014 there were 5,709 people 65 and older killed and an estimated 221,000 injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Older people made up 17 percent of all traffic fatalities and 9 percent of all people injured in traffic crashes in 2014. For more information, please see NCSL’s webpage on Senior Drivers.

BATIC Institute Webinars 

NCSL’s Transportation Program is a partner for the Build America Transportation Investment Center (BATIC) Institute, which provides transportation finance capacity building to state DOTs, elected officials and other stakeholders. To date, the Institute has produced three in-depth webinars highlighting innovative and successful financing methods for three large-scale transportation projects; Pennsylvania’s Rapid Bridge Replacement Project, the redevelopment of Denver’s Union Station and Colorado’s Eagle P3 Commuter Rail

National Toll Facilities Usage Analysis 

In April 2016, the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) released a new report examining the usage of toll facilities across the United States. According to the report, total trips in toll facilities eclipsed 5 billion in 2015, up seven percent from 2014. Of the 31 facilities surveyed in the 2016 study, 23 had record-breaking years for traffic volume and all but one observed traffic volume increases in 2015. In total, 35 states contain one or more toll facilities.