While your U.S. Senators and House Representatives are away trying to escape the D.C. temperatures, let’s look at a few bills introduced before the August recess. While it is not likely any of these bills are intended to pass independently, advocates will be working hard for their inclusion in the upcoming surface transportation reauthorization.
H.R. 3293 – Collision Avoidance Systems Act of 2019
Introduced by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY-16), the “Collision Avoidance Systems Act” would allow pulsating light systems on passenger vehicles (including buses and trucks) in an effort to reduce collisions by amending the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards.
The bill defines pulsation light systems as a “high mounted stop lamp” that, when the brake of the vehicle is applied, pulses rapidly no more than four times and for no more than two seconds and then converts to a continuous light as a normal stop lamp until the brake is released.
The “rapid pulsing” would not be repeated on subsequent applications until a period of at least five seconds passed.
The bill currently has three cosponsors: Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI-4); Rep. David Trone (D-MD-6); and Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI-1).
H.R. 3383 – Safe and Fair Environment on Highways Achieved through Underwriting Levels Act
Introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA-8), the Safe and Fair Environment on Highways Achieved through Underwriting Levels Act proposes to amend 49 U.S. Code § 31139, minimum financial responsibility limits (insurance) for transporting property (trucks) by increasing the minimum financial responsibility limit to $4,532,550.
The proposed increase is over six times the current limit. While the current bill only proposes to raise the existing limits for property carriers, it is noteworthy that a comparable increase for passenger carriers would increase the minimum financial responsibility limits to over $30,000,000.
The bill further mandates that the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, adjust the amount annually for medical care inflation.
The revised limits would be effective 180 days after passage of the bill. Currently, there are no cosponsors.
H.R. 3628 – Motor Carriers Accountability Act
Introduced by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS-2), the Motor Carriers Safety Act will require motor carriers to alleviate hardships due to “unwarranted” and “excessive” passenger delays. Although vague, it is presumed the intent of the bill applies to scheduled service, which generally encompasses scheduled casino trips, certain commuter trips, etc.
The bill requires each motor carrier to adopt a contingency plan for excessive passenger delays and to adhere to the plan. A contingency plan would include the following conditions:
A motor carrier will not let passengers undergo a covered delay unless there are safety-related or security-related issues.
A motor carrier will provide adequate food and water if passengers undergo a covered delay.
A motor carrier will ensure there are operable lavatory facilities at stations.
A motor carrier will provide a full refund of the price of a passenger’s ticket if a passenger undergoes a covered delay and will provide the remainder of the trip to the passenger without charge.
For a period of two years after the date of any covered delay, a motor carrier will retain any records containing the following information:
- The length of such delay.
- The cause of such delay.
- And actions taken to minimize hardships for passengers, including the provision of food and water and the maintenance and servicing of lavatories.
A motor carrier would be required to notify passengers of a known delayed arrival of one or more hours after the scheduled arrival time on a single one-way ticket; cancellations; and diversions.
Additionally, a motor carrier will be required to notify passengers of travel status information in the boarding area of the station; on the website of such motor carrier; on the mobile application of such motor carrier; and through the telephone reservation system of such motor carrier, upon inquiry by any person.
A penalty for noncompliance is to be imposed by the Secretary of Transportation of not less than $50,000.
The bill currently enjoys 25 cosponsors: Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA-4), Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN-7), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL-24), Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH-11), Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-9), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30), Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10), Rep. Alma S. Adams (D-NC-12), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-At Large), Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO-1), Rep. Robin L. Kelly (D-IL-2), Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA-2), Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI-14), Rep. Bobby L Rush (D-IL-1), Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL-7), Rep. Henry C. Johnson, Jr. (D-GA-4), Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL-20), Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA-2), Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH-3), Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1), Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37), Rep. Al Lawson, Jr. (D-FL-5), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7).
Considering the level of cosponsors and nature of the legislation, it seems likely the bill is supported by some segments of the industry.
As these bills progress, the UMA Legislative & Regulatory Committee will be developing positions. Let them know what you think. For now, they remain under the caution light. As always, send me an email and let me know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.