Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205

02/04/2016 01:00 PM Senate TRANSPORTATION

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-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
        SB  92-PROHIBIT DAYLIGHT MANDATORY HEADLIGHT USE                                                                    
1:02:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MICCICHE announced consideration of SB 92.                                                                                
1:03:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BERT  STEDMAN, Alaska State Legislature,  Juneau, Alaska,                                                               
sponsor of SB 92, said this is  a simple bill.  He explained that                                                               
over the  years, proposals have  been brought to  the legislature                                                               
(in  2009, SB  73 and  HB  181, and  in 2014,  SB 115)  requiring                                                               
headlights on  at all times  and the legislature has  decided not                                                               
to do  that by taking no  action on the bills.  The Department of                                                               
Transportation and  Public Facilities  (DOTPF) made  a regulatory                                                               
decision  to  require  headlights  on  throughout  the  Southeast                                                               
Islands  and  this  caught  his   office  and  his  community  by                                                               
SENATOR  STEDMAN   said  if  this  was   a  statewide  regulation                                                               
including everybody  rather than  just a  particular area  of the                                                               
state,  it  would  be  one  thing, but  it  is  targeted  at  one                                                               
community and it is not supported  by most of the public. When he                                                               
asked for  an analysis of  accidents throughout Alaska,  he found                                                               
that Sitka and Ketchikan regions  had minimal traffic deaths. The                                                               
targeted area  doesn't have many  roads or high speed  limits and                                                               
this requirement  doesn't really  fit, unlike Central  Alaska and                                                               
Fairbanks that have the vast majority of the population.                                                                        
He pointed out  that the underlying concern of this  bill is when                                                               
the legislature  takes an affirmative  action not to  take action                                                               
and an  agency by regulation  imposes its  will over the  will of                                                               
the legislature.                                                                                                                
1:07:36 PM                                                                                                                    
RANDY  RUARO,  Staff  to  Senator   Bert  Stedman,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, sponsor of  SB 92, explained that SB
92 has  two sections,  both intended  and advised  by Legislative                                                               
Legal as the  way to pull this specific policy  issue back to the                                                               
legislature  from  an  otherwise  very  broad  generic  grant  of                                                               
authority to  the agencies to  accomplish this by  regulation. He                                                               
said the other existing headlight rules would remain in place.                                                                  
MR. RUARO  said his research  revealed that the  National Highway                                                               
Traffic Safety  Administration has  looked at the  issue numerous                                                               
times and  in 2008/9 it  found evidence  of the benefit  of using                                                               
daytime headlights.  However, another  report found  that daytime                                                               
headlights  actually seemed  to increase  involvement in  two car                                                               
passenger  vehicle  fatalities in  all  crashes.  He thought  the                                                               
science is  probably debatable, and  if the reports  were weighed                                                               
the scales would probably lean towards a safety benefit.                                                                        
1:09:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN  added that it takes  money and man hours  to put                                                               
up signs and maintain them and  the legislature is trying to hold                                                               
back  budgetary  growth  and  help the  department  in  the  most                                                               
critical areas around the state.  Little things like this agitate                                                               
elected officials.                                                                                                              
If  he felt  as a  senator for  the area  that there  were safety                                                               
corridor  issues and  high death  ratios on  the highways  in the                                                               
area, he  might be  a little more  understanding, but  2010 death                                                               
statistics indicate that  of the 52 people who  died in accidents                                                               
statewide, only one was in his area  and one was in Juneau - that                                                               
includes all of  Southeast. In 2011, there were  63 deaths: three                                                               
in  Juneau and  none  south of  Juneau. In  2012,  there were  54                                                               
deaths; one in  his communities and one in Juneau.  In 2013 there                                                               
were  no deaths  in Southeast  and  49 statewide.  The math  just                                                               
doesn't work, he said.                                                                                                          
SENATOR STEDMAN said other things can  be done to focus on safety                                                               
issues.  He  was also  concerned  about  how  one region  of  the                                                               
department took action on this and  the other ones opted out, and                                                               
the region  that took  action on it  doesn't have  the fatalities                                                               
behind it  that other areas of  the state do. He  summarized that                                                               
this  is  a  simple  bill  that  brings  authority  back  to  the                                                               
1:12:33 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DUNLEAVY  asked how this  regulation would be  handled in                                                               
the unincorporated  areas where there  are no boroughs  or cities                                                               
and basically where the legislature is the assembly.                                                                            
SENATOR  STEDMAN   replied  that  most  of   geographic  area  he                                                               
represents,  which  includes Prince  of  Wales  Island (PWI),  is                                                               
unincorporated. He didn't  see any difference in  the highways on                                                               
the PWI from the ones in Ketchikan or Sitka.                                                                                    
SENATOR DUNLEAVY  asked if those  signs would be removed  if this                                                               
bill passed.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN answered  yes; he doesn't want  to pay Department                                                               
of  Transportation  and  Public Facilities  (DOTPF)  to  maintain                                                               
them. He'd rather see DOTPF fix a pothole.                                                                                      
1:13:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BISHOP asked if this bill applies statewide.                                                                            
SENATOR STEDMAN answered yes.                                                                                                   
SENATOR STEDMAN said when he  looks at the DOTPF workload dealing                                                               
with roads  and airports in  Southeast, it is  minimally staffed.                                                               
When he  looks at  the Troopers who  are also  minimally staffed,                                                               
they deal with fish and  game violations, black tar heroin issues                                                               
and domestic violence  issues, and he didn't  want the Department                                                               
of  Public  Safety to  be  taken  away  from dealing  with  these                                                               
serious social issues by chasing  somebody around who didn't turn                                                               
their headlights on.                                                                                                            
1:14:54 PM                                                                                                                    
JEFF JEFFERS,  State Traffic and  Safety Engineer,  Department of                                                               
Transportation  and Public  Facilities  (DOTPF), Juneau,  Alaska,                                                               
said the  department neither  supports nor opposes  SB 92.  It is                                                               
prepared to  proceed according to the  legislature's direction on                                                               
this issue.                                                                                                                     
He  explained that  current headlight  use regulatory  signs were                                                               
installed in  accordance with the  existing provisions of  13 AAC                                                               
04.010 and are not intended  to represent a statewide requirement                                                               
for  daytime   headlight  use.  The  department   sees  value  in                                                               
retaining  the current  latitude in  13  AAC 04.010  in order  to                                                               
retain  the  low-cost  site specific  countermeasure  of  daytime                                                               
headlight use.  Studies indicate a  5 to 15 percent  reduction in                                                               
multi-vehicle  crashes with  headlights on  during daytime  hours                                                               
for head-on, side-swipe, and angle-type crashes.                                                                                
He said  the department  acknowledges the  frustrations generated                                                               
by the  South Coast Region  2014 headlight use signs  project and                                                               
adjusted their  procedures for erecting  the signs.  They revised                                                               
their   Alaska  Traffic   Manual   in  2015   to  require   DOTPF                                                               
commissioner approval  before erecting headlight use  signs. Only                                                               
one  other  regulatory  sign   in  Alaska  requires  commissioner                                                               
He explained  that the department recognizes  that any regulatory                                                               
sign  or requirement  reduces the  public's right  to choose  how                                                               
they  behave or  operate  their motor  vehicles,  but like  speed                                                               
limits  and stop  signing  they believe  the  safety benefit  and                                                               
desire to  bring Alaskans home  at the end  of the day  alive and                                                               
uninjured is a societal benefit  that significantly outweighs the                                                               
impact on the reduction of the public's rights.                                                                                 
1:17:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BISHOP  asked if  this would  affect the  state receiving                                                               
federal funding if it were to become law.                                                                                       
MR. JEFFERS  replied not  to his  knowledge, but  this particular                                                               
project  was implemented  in accordance  with 13  AAC, which  has                                                               
been  in place  for some  time  as a  highway safety  improvement                                                               
project, which  is federally funded.  It's uncertain  whether the                                                               
state  would  have  to  reimburse  the  federal  agency  for  its                                                               
participation.  He said  they implemented  this project  based on                                                               
safety  data analysis,  which they  consider  a systemic  process                                                               
that   analyzes   data   looking  for   highways   with   similar                                                               
characteristics  for  which a  safety  counter  measure can  have                                                               
benefit,    and   then    apply   appropriate    and   affordable                                                               
countermeasures over  a number  of locations.  In this  case, all                                                               
these highways  are rural, two-lane  highways and they  happen to                                                               
be in the  South Coast Region. It was not  their intent to extend                                                               
this  beyond   the  rural   segments  or   to  infringe   on  the                                                               
legislature's  intent  in  their  choice  not  to  advance  bills                                                               
regarding statewide fulltime headlight use.                                                                                     
SENATOR STEDMAN said his understanding  is that the federal grant                                                               
was available  for all the  regions of Alaska, but  the Southeast                                                               
Region is  the only one  selected to participate, and  the others                                                               
opted out. He asked if that is correct.                                                                                         
MR. JEFFERS  answered not  quite. He  explained that  the Highway                                                               
Safety Improvement Program is a  federally funded program. States                                                               
are mandated to  use the funds to improve spot  locations as well                                                               
as  to  make  system-wide   improvements  for  enhancing  safety.                                                               
Reducing and eliminating fatal and  major injuries is their goal.                                                               
The funding  which comes  to the  headquarters is  distributed to                                                               
the  regions based  on  their nominations  of  projects. In  that                                                               
year,  about   $30  million  was  distributed   statewide;  about                                                               
$100,000 or less  was used for signage in this  project. Had this                                                               
funding not  been used  for this  particular signing  project, it                                                               
would have been used elsewhere in the state.                                                                                    
1:20:54 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN  said the former  commissioner didn't  know about                                                               
this  project until  it  was  basically done  and  his phone  was                                                               
ringing. He added  that he understands the  concern about traffic                                                               
deaths in  the safety corridors,  because they have  had hearings                                                               
and   funding  requests   and  have   taken  affirmative   action                                                               
throughout the  Railbelt trying  to deal  with the  heavy traffic                                                               
and  the  highway deaths.  But  it's  not  a rural  issue,  quite                                                               
frankly.  He  couldn't recall  any  hearings  on safety  corridor                                                               
issues in Southeast Alaska where  the biggest highway is the Egan                                                               
Highway in  Juneau. The  rest are basically  two lane  roads with                                                               
35-45 mph speed  limits. While it fits the grant,  it doesn't fit                                                               
the region.  There is no question  that under 13 AAC they had the                                                               
authority to do this, but it  comes back to the umbrella issue of                                                               
who is setting the policy, the agencies or the legislature.                                                                     
1:22:58 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE asked  if this  grant is  a net  positive or  a                                                               
negative to the General Fund (GF).                                                                                              
MR. JEFFERS answered  that it cost the state about  $2,000 due to                                                               
the  matching  funds  that  are applied  to  federal  funding  of                                                               
different types.                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MICCICHE asked  what other  kinds of  decisions the  DOTPF                                                               
makes  on making  Alaska's highways  safer  that the  legislature                                                               
does not weigh in on.                                                                                                           
MR. JEFFERS  answered that  the department  is given  latitude in                                                               
the regulations  or statute to implement  traffic control devices                                                               
around the state highway system  to improve safety and to control                                                               
and  manage  traffic.  They routinely  install  traffic  signals,                                                               
alter  their   operation,  mark  pavement,  install   signs,  and                                                               
increase and decrease  speed limits in accordance  with the needs                                                               
of the  traveling public. This is  one of the elements  that is a                                                               
tool  in  their  toolbox  when  it comes  to  cross  center  line                                                               
crashes. Rural two-lane highways have  basically run off the road                                                               
accidents, angle  crashes and head-on collisions.  The department                                                               
has  a limited  quiver of  options for  dealing with  things like                                                               
this. The price tag increases  rapidly, but a short list includes                                                               
center  line rumble  strips, delineation  or signing  and marking                                                               
curve  warning  signs,  widening or  straightening  of  roadways,                                                               
divided highway  passing lanes, and  slow vehicle  turnouts. Each                                                               
option  is a  little more  invasive and  a little  more expensive                                                               
than the option  they chose in this case. It  is a relatively low                                                               
effectiveness countermeasure  given that they  expect to see  a 5                                                               
to  15 percent  crash reduction.  Even if  it prevents  one minor                                                               
injury  accident  it  will  be   a  net  benefit  from  the  cost                                                               
standpoint. This is one of the  ways they evaluate where to spend                                                               
the federally provided funds for  the Highways Safety Improvement                                                               
Program.  They  are distributed  to  projects  that are  selected                                                               
based  on their  benefit  cost.  In this  case,  while  it was  a                                                               
relatively low  benefit cost, the  project was also low  net cost                                                               
and the hope  is that the benefit is greater  than the imposition                                                               
on the public.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR MICCICHE asked  if he had any statistics  on the proportion                                                               
of vehicle accidents or injuries versus fatalities.                                                                             
MR. JEFFERS  answered that fatal  injuries are rare and  they are                                                               
not  the   only  consideration  used  in   looking  at  potential                                                               
countermeasures. Last  year there  were 50  fatal injuries  and a                                                               
total of  12,000 non-fatal accidents  and injuries.  He explained                                                               
that the  difference between  a fatal injury  and a  minor injury                                                               
might be  the age of the  occupant, the kind of  vehicle they are                                                               
riding in, the  speed they are traveling, a moment  in which they                                                               
are not wearing  their seatbelt, or whether they  strike the rear                                                               
passenger door or T-bone into the driver's side.                                                                                
CHAIR  MICCICHE asked  if  he  had an  analysis  to justify  that                                                               
daylight headlight usage reduces accidents.                                                                                     
MR. JERRERS answered yes in  the sense that the northern latitude                                                               
countries  of  Finland,  Norway, Sweden,  Iceland,  Denmark,  and                                                               
Canada  are all  embracing, and  have embraced  over the  last 35                                                               
years, the  use of headlights  or daylight running  lights during                                                               
daytime hours,  and they aren't  reversing their position  to his                                                               
knowledge.  One of  the reasons  DOTPF is  interested is  because                                                               
Alaska has  the low angle sun  and the long twilight  periods. He                                                               
explained  that the  Southeast project  installed  signs on  main                                                               
roads with a lot of driveways accessing them.                                                                                   
CHAIR MICCICHE  said when he  starts all of his  vehicles, except                                                               
for the  1982 Ford plow truck,  the lights come on  and that must                                                               
have been  done for a reason.  He said he had  offered to provide                                                               
the Senator - and to install  - an automatic headlight switch for                                                               
his truck,  but he hadn't  taken him up on  it, yet. He  asked if                                                               
the industry recognized the automatic switches as a benefit.                                                                    
MR. JEFFERS  offered his belief that  the industry did it  on its                                                               
own as a  safety measure, although a legislative  effort was made                                                               
that was denied.                                                                                                                
SENATOR BISHOP  asked if it is  sufficient to require the  use of                                                               
headlights one half hour before  and after sunrise and sunset. He                                                               
was taught  that the most  dangerous time  to fly an  airplane or                                                               
drive  a  car  is  at   sunrise  and  at  sunset,  because  depth                                                               
perception is skewed.                                                                                                           
MR.  JEFFERS   offered  to  do   some  research,  but   said  the                                                               
requirement is actually one-half hour after sunset.                                                                             
1:32:08 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MICCICHE opened public testimony.                                                                                         
1:32:30 PM                                                                                                                    
DENNIS WATSON, Mayor, City of  Craig, Craig, Alaska, supported SB
92. He has  lived on Prince of  Wales Island for 42  years and is                                                               
the general  manager of the  Interisland Ferry Authority.  He was                                                               
flabbergasted  when this  started:  without any  warning a  DOTPF                                                               
employee from the safety of his  desk had decided they all had to                                                               
drive with their headlights on. He  did not visit the area to see                                                               
what was really going on and  did not provide any public process.                                                               
The Mayor  said he  talked to  the fellow  several times  and was                                                               
told that there is nothing he could do about it.                                                                                
MAYOR  WATSON  said being  a  community  leader,  he has  a  real                                                               
problem with that.  He said there are two main  causes of traffic                                                               
accidents  on PWI  and it  has to  do with  speeding and  driving                                                               
impaired. Neither of  these has anything to do  with driving with                                                               
headlights on in  the daytime. The Police Chief  does not believe                                                               
it is necessary and the Troopers  on the island don't support it.                                                               
He  asked a  deputy commissioner  of Public  Safety who  said had                                                               
DOTPF come  to them  first, they would  have suggested  that this                                                               
was  not  necessary on  PWI.  There  should  have been  a  public                                                               
process.  DOTPF should  not act  unilaterally, and  laws are  not                                                               
needed without  good backup behind  them. He urged  the committee                                                               
to pass the bill.                                                                                                               
1:36:07 PM                                                                                                                    
BRIAN  LYNCH, representing  himself, Petersburg,  Alaska, opposed                                                               
SB 92  and was in  favor of 24 hour  headlight use. He  said this                                                               
appears  to  be  government  overreach  and  he  understands  the                                                               
problem with  that, but for him,  it is a safety  issue. He lives                                                               
on Mitkof  Highway in  town near a  very misleading  curve. Often                                                               
when he  leaves his driveway,  vehicles just appear on  his rear,                                                               
and a  couple of  times it  has been a  fully loaded  dump truck.                                                               
Without headlights  on, he wouldn't be  able to see them  even if                                                               
they  were not  exceeding the  speed  limit. He  drives with  his                                                               
headlights on all the time no matter  where he is in town. He has                                                               
also thought about  petitioning DOTPF to try to  reduce the speed                                                               
limit on Mitkof  Highway, but this would  really seriously impact                                                               
Alaska  Marine  Lines  when  they   are  running  fish  from  the                                                               
processors in town during a big summer season.                                                                                  
1:39:03 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MICCICHE,  finding  no  further  comments,  closed  public                                                               
testimony.  He  asked  Mr.  Hansen  if  he  had  experience  with                                                               
statewide Alaska  Highway safety issues and  headlights improving                                                               
safety during the daytime.                                                                                                      
1:40:09 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID HANSEN,  Lieutenant, Alaska  State Troopers,  Department of                                                               
Public  Safety   (DPS),  Anchorage,  Alaska,  said   that  he  is                                                               
currently  assigned as  Lieutenant  and Deputy  Commander of  the                                                               
Alaska Bureau of  Highway Patrol, which works  closely with DOTPF                                                               
in collaborating with  the highway safety corridors.  He said the                                                               
requirement of  headlight use at  all times, particularly  in the                                                               
highway  safety corridors,  has been  shown to  reduce collisions                                                               
based  upon historical  DOTPF statistics.  It is  worth the  time                                                               
spent on patrol doing that type of enforcement.                                                                                 
He  said  in  2012-2015,  Alaska   State  Troopers  and  Wildlife                                                               
Troopers wrote  200 (13 AAC  04.010) (c) citations for  not using                                                               
headlights in safety corridors. Using  a rough figure of about 10                                                               
minutes per traffic stop resulted in  about 33 hours spent by DPS                                                               
in  a four-year  time span.  So, especially  during breakup  when                                                               
vehicles take  on the same  color as the road,  having headlights                                                               
on is beneficial in keeping the road safer.                                                                                     
CHAIR  MICCICHE  asked how  he  would  divide that  effectiveness                                                               
between country two-lane roads versus the larger state highways.                                                                
LIEUTENANT HANSEN  responded that  their concentrated  effort has                                                               
been on the  safety corridors, and he doesn't  have statistics on                                                               
the smaller roads.  He knows from personal experience  that it is                                                               
easier to see oncoming vehicles if their headlights are on.                                                                     
1:43:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN said  he wasn't aware of any  safety corridors in                                                               
Southeast Alaska  and there is  a cost to maintaining  the signs.                                                               
He would rather  see DOTPF fixing potholes. In  2010-2014, he and                                                               
Senator  Egan  collectively  have   10  percent  of  the  state's                                                               
population and  had 3.5 percent  of the highway  deaths. Policies                                                               
need  to  be  made  in  the  legislature  by  elected  officials,                                                               
especially  when  they have  taken  affirmative  action on  three                                                               
bills at least in the last few years.                                                                                           
1:45:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MICCICHE commented  that when  he was  a small  town mayor                                                               
some  of the  decisions that  DOTPF made  were very  frustrating.                                                               
However,  changing  the  thickness   of  the  striping  did  slow                                                               
vehicles down  on part  of their highway.  They went  through the                                                               
headlight issue a  couple of years ago.  Probably the frustration                                                               
they are hearing has more to  do with the public process than the                                                               
fact. He  recommended that the  department provide  some outreach                                                               
to the involved communities.                                                                                                    
He held SB 92 in committee.                                                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB92 ver W.PDF STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 92
SB92 Sponsor Statement 2.pdf STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 92
SB92 Sectional Anaylsis.pdf STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 92
SB92 Fiscal Note DOT-TMS 1-19-16.pdf STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 92
SB92 Supporting Documents-Letter-City of Craig-9-4-2015.pdf STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 92
SB92 Opposing Documents-Letter-Mary McDowell 1-30-16.pdf STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 92
SB92 Supporting Documents-Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No., 108; Lamp, Reflective Devices and Associated Equipment.pdf STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 92
SB92 13 AAC 04.010.docx STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 92
SB92 Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes by Borough Census Area.pdf STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 92
SB132 ver A.pdf STRA 1/26/2016 1:00:00 PM
STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 132
SB132 Sponsor Statement - Governor's Transmittal Letter.pdf STRA 1/26/2016 1:00:00 PM
STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 132
SB132 Sectional Analysis Motor Fuel Tax.pdf STRA 1/26/2016 1:00:00 PM
STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 132
SB132 Fiscal Note-0912-DOR-TAX-01-13-16.pdf STRA 1/26/2016 1:00:00 PM
STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 132
SB132 Tax presentation MOTOR FUEL 1-22-16.pptx STRA 1/26/2016 1:00:00 PM
STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 132
Per-Capita Broad-Based State Tax Revenues, by State, 2014.pdf STRA 1/26/2016 1:00:00 PM
STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 132
SB132 Support Letter Aviation Advisory Board 11-2-15.pdf STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 132
SB132 Aviation Advisory Board Resolution.pdf STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 132
SB132 Written Testimony -Alaska Trucking Association - 2-4-2016.pdf STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 132
SB132 DOR response to questions at 2-1-16 meeting.pdf STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 132
SB132 DOR response to breakdown of fuel consumption by region at 2-4-16 meeting.pdf STRA 2/4/2016 1:00:00 PM
SB 132