Thefifth meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Tuesday, October 7, 2008, at 1:00 PM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Hubert Collins, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Representative Hubert Collins, Chair; Senators Charlie Borders, David E. Boswell, Bob Leeper, R.J. Palmer II, Dick Roeding, and Damon Thayer; Representatives John A. Arnold Jr., Eddie Ballard, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Jim DeCesare, Keith Hall, Richard Henderson, Melvin B. Henley, Jimmie Lee, Charles Miller, Lonnie Napier, Sannie Overly, Marie Rader, Sal Santoro, Arnold Simpson, Ancel Smith, Jim Stewart III, Greg Stumbo, Tommy Turner, and John Vincent.
Guests Appearing Before the Committee: Pamela Roark Glisson, Executive Director, Independence Place, Inc.; Robert Strassburger, VP Safety & Harmonization, Alliance Automotive Manufacturer. Representing the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet were: Mike Hancock, Chief Highway Engineer, Todd Shipp, Sr. Counsel and Special Assistant, Dan Glass, Commissioner, and Willie Payton, Director, Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing, Doug Sutton, Assistant Director, Driver Licensing, and John Wilcoxson, Branch Manager, Pavement Branch, Division of Maintenance.
LRC Staff: John Snyder, Jim Roberts, and Linda Hughes.
Before opening the meeting to testimony, Chairman Collins asked for a moment of silence for State Representative Larry Belcher, a Committee member, who was killed in an automobile accident the night before.
Following the moment of silence and several members speaking on behalf of Representative Belcher, Representative Arnold moved to approve the Committee’s August 5, and September 26, 2008 minutes, as submitted. Representative Miller seconded the motion, which passed by voice vote.
Deviating from the Committee’s agenda, Chairman Collins referred the Committee’s attention to Agenda Item VI., a review of Administrative Regulation 601 KAR 13:070, promulgated by the Transportation Cabinet. He stated that there were concerns voiced regarding this regulation and after meeting with the Transportation Cabinet, the Cabinet had agreed to changes to 601 KAR 13:070. Chairman Collins said that he would therefore entertained a motion to defer the regulation to the Committee’s next meeting in order to address these changes. Senator Roeding moved to defer Administrative Regulation 601 KAR 13:070. Representative Lee seconded the motion, which passed by voice vote.
The next item on the Committee’s agenda was a presentation on the registration of low-speed electric and alternative vehicles, by Todd Shipp, Sr. Counsel and Special Assistant; and Dan Glass, Commissioner, and Willie Payton, Director, Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Commissioner Glass said that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines low-speed vehicles as any 4-wheeled motor vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 mph, but not greater than 25 mph. He said there are a number of states who have adopted the NHTSA standards, which also require head and tail lamps, as well as stop lamps; front and rear turn signals; red reflex reflectors; exterior/internal mirrors; parking brake; windshield; vehicle identification number; and seatbelts.
Commissioner Glass drew the members’ attention to several motor vehicles that could pose difficulties when drafting legislation for low-speed motor vehicles. He stated that these vehicles were motorcycles, mopeds, golf carts, smart cars, Apteras, pocket bikes, spyders, and zap cars. He said that all of these cars have characteristics that could cause difficulties in crafting statutes that adequately define acceptable vehicles for highway use. In naming a few, Commissioner Glass said that some motorcycles now have what is called “training wheels” that are stationary on the bikes, changing that vehicle’s characteristics from a 2-wheeled to a 4-wheeled vehicle; and mopeds, which are characterized as a motorized bicycle whose frame design may include one or more horizontal crossbar, has the same characteristics as a pocket bike, which the Cabinet states should never be allowed on state roads because of safety.
Commissioner Glass stated that last session’s Senate Bill 93 defined golf carts as having a designed speed capable of not more than 35 mph, and restricted the operation of golf carts to roadways within five road miles of an entrance to a golf course, and increased their wheel requirements to a minimum of four wheels. Commissioner Glass cautioned the Committee that some individuals might interpret the NHTSA definitions of low-speed motor vehicles to include golf carts. He reminded the members that golf carts are not currently required to be titled or registered.
Commissioner Glass ended his testimony by saying that 40 states now have statutory authority for low-speed vehicles to operate on certain types of roads, and that 32 states limit operation to roads with speed limits not exceeding 35 mph. He said that most of the states make explicit reference to these low-speed vehicles having to comply with the Federal standards.
Chairman Collins asked if the Cabinet had any accident statistics on these types of vehicles. Mr. Shipp stated that he did not, but would see that the Committee received that information.
Committee members raised several questions regarding golf carts operating on specified roadways where there were no golf courses within the regulatory five road mile radius. It was stated that some cities, without golf courses in their areas, have adopted city ordinances to allow for the use of golf carts on their city roadways. Mr. Shipp stated that he viewed these city ordinances to be in violation of state statutes, because the statutes state that golf carts are only allowed to travel on specified roadways that are within a five road mile radius of a golf course.
The next item on the Committee’s agenda was a presentation on hybrid vehicle warning systems. Testifying before the Committee on this topic were Pamela Roark Glisson, Executive Director, Independence Place, Inc.; and Robert Strassburger, VP Safety & Harmonization, and Judith Taylor, Alliance Automotive Manufacturers.
Ms. Glisson stated that most visually impaired individuals operate by audible information processing. She said because hybrids are so quiet they cause safety issues not only to the blind population but to other individuals as well. Ms. Glisson stated that children are taught at an early age that when approaching a street corner to stop, look, and listen for traffic before stepping out to cross the street. She said that with the hybrid cars, the noise factor has been eliminated.
Ms. Glisson stated that according to a University of California, Riverside Press Release “hybrid cars operating at very slow speeds must be 40 percent closer to pedestrians than combustion-engine vehicles before their location can be audibly detected. Those findings have implications for pedestrians who are blind, runners, cyclists, small children, and others.”
Mr. Strassburger stated that automotive industries, worldwide, are dealing with this dilemma. A dilemma he said that they did not foresee when developing the hybrid automobile. He said that for the last 30 years, the automotive industry has been researching ways to offer a quieter vehicle. As a matter of fact, he said that $25 of the price of every new car sold today goes into the research for quieter cars.
Mr. Strassburger said that with the soaring gasoline prices, the industry responded by developing the hybrid automobile. However, with the development of hybrids came an entirely new problem, the quietness, or lack of sound. The industry now finds itself, after 30 years of research for a quieter vehicle researching ways to add sound to their hybrid vehicles. He said that this in-depth research has been underway for the last year and results should be available in the next year to year and a half. Mr. Strassburger stated that the automotive industry understands the Federation for the Blind’s concerns and is working deligently to address those concerns.
Representative Overly asked when the general public could anticipate this technology being incorporated into the hybrid automobile design. Mr. Strassburger stated that the research should be completed in another year to year and a half and then it would take another 18 months or so for that technology to be designed and installed into the hybrid automobiles. He said that there is no fast and easy solution to this problem and that it would take time correct.
Mr. Strassburger closed by repeating that the automotive industry is aware of the “lack of sound” problem with the operation of hybrid vehicles and is working diligently to correct the situation.
The last item before the Committee was the presentation on asphalt durability by Mike Hancock, Chief Highway Engineer, and John Wilcoxson, Branch Manager, Pavement Branch, Division of Maintenance, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Mr. Hancock said that the percentage of interstate pavements in fair or better condition fell by 8 percent in 2007, the second largest drop in the past twenty years; while the parkway system improved by 18 percent during that same year. He said that pavements generally last 12 to 14 years between resurfacing treatments.
Mr. Hancock commented that with the price of asphalt skyrocketing, the Cabinet used 1¼ inch of asphalt for their resurfacing of roads last year, as opposed to the 1½ inches it had used in past years. He said while this saved about 1/6 of the tonnage used by the state, the increased cost of asphalt still raised the overall price the state paid last year to asphalt its roads. When asked, Mr. Wilcoxson stated that asphalt cost around $70 per ton in competitive areas and as much as $80 per ton in rural areas where there is no competition.
Representative Smith asked if the Cabinet practiced milling (adding a portion of old asphalt to the new asphalt mixture) when asphalting. Mr. Hancock said yes that the Cabinet did practice this procedure. He said there was a percentage formula the Cabinet used for milling, but he did not have that information with him.
With no further business before the Committee, the meeting adjourned at 2:35 p.m.