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In the eastern Iowa town of Sioux City, police have installed red-light cameras at several intersections as well as speed cameras on Interstate 29. But when motorists in one neighboring state are caught on camera breaking a traffic law, Sioux City police may have a difficult time collecting the fine. HB 1122, passed this year by the South Dakota Legislature, restricts the state from sharing information with other states seeking driver’s license data to enforce civil penalties in traffic-camera cases.

The chief counsel for the Federal Transit Administration and transit agency officials from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Texas were on Capitol Hill this week for a hearing on what it will take to get transit systems back in a state of good repair as the nation faces an $86 billion backlog of critical repair needs that’s expected to grow at a rate of $2.5 billion annually without additional investment. I also have the usual roundup of news and links on MAP-21 reauthorization, the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling, and state multi-modal strategies.

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As of mid-April, 12 U.S. states had general statutory bans on drivers’ use of handheld cellphones, including Illinois in the Midwest, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. In each of these 12 states, this traffic violation is a primary offense: Law enforcement can stop a driver because of the cellphone use and issue a citation.
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A number of states use traffic cameras to catch speeders and red light runners. While supporters say cameras have the potential to aid law enforcement, improve safety and bring in revenues from ticketed violations, they are increasingly controversial. Critics say they invade privacy, serve to administer backdoor tax increases, benefit for-profit companies more than safety and actually cause accidents in some cases. These debates have created a hodgepodge of wildly different state and local statutes around the country and a variety of re-evaluations of the merits of cameras in traffic enforcement.

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard in March signed legislation to make his state the 43rd one to ban texting while driving. The new law, which will take effect July 1, prohibits drivers from using any handheld wireless device to write, send or read text messages or emails while the vehicle is in motion.

Distracted driving, which includes texting while driving, is a significant public safety concern for state leaders and law enforcement. Although 43 states and the District of Columbia have passed bans that prohibit texting while driving, driver distraction is a leading factor in nearly one-fifth of all fatal crashes.

In 2007, Washington became the first state to ban texting while driving. Seven years later, 43 states and the District of Columbia have passed bans. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, driver distraction is a leading factor in many crashes and texting is one of the most common distractions.

August 29 now appears to be the "drop dead date" for Congressional action to avert a shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, the U.S. Department of Transportation said this week. Meanwhile, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx hit the road to make the case for infrastructure investment as state officials from around the country continued to talk about the impact of federal uncertainty on their projects. I also have my usual roundup of items on state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

Leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced this week they have agreed in principle on how to proceed with the next federal surface transportation authorization bill, the successor to 2012’s MAP-21. I also have the usual roundup of links on the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and we have a new Capitol Research brief just out looking at “Enforcement of Texting While Driving Bans.” It examines the state of anti-texting statutes and recent legislative efforts around the country, as well as the efforts of law enforcement to assess strategies for catching texters in the act. But here’s a roundup of some additional related resources from around the web.

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