Interim Joint Committee on Transportation


Minutes of the<MeetNo1> Fourth Meeting

of the 2007 Interim


<MeetMDY1> November 8, 2007


The<MeetNo2> fourth meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on<Day> Thursday,<MeetMDY2> November 8, 2007, at<MeetTime> 1:00 PM, in<Room> Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Brett Guthrie and Representative Hubert Collins, co-chaired the meeting.  Senator Guthrie called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.


Present were:


Members:<Members> Senator Brett Guthrie, Co-Chair; Representative Hubert Collins, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins, Jr., David E. Boswell, Bob Leeper, Dick Roeding, and Gary Tapp; Representatives Eddie Ballard, Carolyn Belcher, Johnny Bell, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Jim DeCesare, J. R. Gray, Keith Hall, Richard Henderson, Melvin B. Henley, Jimmie Lee, Charles Miller, Russ Mobley, Marie Rader, Sal Santoro, Arnold Simpson, Ancel Smith, Brandon Spencer, Jim Stewart III, and Tommy Turner.


Guests Appearing Before the Committee:   Tom Kowalick, President, Click, Inc.-Transportation Safety Technology and the following individuals from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Debra Gabbard, Office of Budget and Fiscal Management; Commissioner Roy Mundy and Godwin Onodu, Department of Vehicle Regulation; and Commissioner Paul Steely and Craig Farmer, Department of Aviation.


LRC Staff:  John Snyder, Jim Roberts, Brandon White, and Linda Hughes.


Representative Gray moved to approve the minutes from the Committee's October 2, 2007 and September 4, 2007 meetings, as submitted.  Senator Boswell seconded the motion, which passed by voice vote.


The first person to testify before the Committee was Tom Kowalick, President, Click, Inc. - Transportation Safety Technology from Southern Pines, North Carolina.  Mr. Kowalick is the author of five books dealing motor vehicle event data recorders (EDRs) which are sometimes referred to as black boxes.


Mr. Kowalick said that according to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle related injury and death is the nation's largest public health problem, and according to the World Health Organization, globally, more than one million people die each year from automobile accidents.  During 2006, there were approximately 6 million auto crashes involving 23+ million people, with one in every 13 crashes occurring in America.  Mr. Kowalick said that 2005 Kentucky information indicates that there were 128,685 crashes with 985 resulting in fatalities.  Kentucky has over 2.93 million licensed drivers driving over 80,000 miles of public roads just here in Kentucky.  He said that the term "EDR" is used to refer to a device or function that is installed in a motor vehicle to record technical vehicle and occupant-based information for a brief period of time (i.e. seconds, not minutes) before, during and after a crash.  Such information recorded can be pre-crash vehicle dynamics and system status, driver inputs, vehicle crash signature, restraint usage, and post-crash data such as activation of an automatic collision notification system.


Mr. Kowalick said that the objective of EDR data is to increase the safety of our surface transportation system.  It can aid in regulatory initiatives, alleged defect investigations, and litigation cases.  He said that automatic information recording devices have proven to be very useful in gathering factual information. It can also be helpful in gathering accurate statistics, such as in the usage of seat belts.


Mr. Kowalick said that California became the first state to enact legislation (in 2004) requiring manufacturers to disclose to customers whether EDRs are installed in their vehicles.  That legislation also prohibits download of that data without the owner's permission or a court order.  As of 2007, twelve states have similar laws.


In the long run, EDR usage will reduce injury and save lives, Mr. Kowalick said, because of the technology it offers in retrieving, gathering, and storing objective data.  This data can improve highway efficiency, mobility, productivity, and environmental quality by providing compelling evidence of the types of crashes, the role of human error, systems engineering and systems integration issues.  The use of EDR data will enhance vehicle diagnostic systems and advanced medical response capabilities.  It can also provide a better understanding of how drivers respond prior to and during a crash.


Mr. Kowalick stated that despite the obvious safety benefits that might accrue, the use of EDRs has not been without controversy.  Some of the controversial issues are the ownership of the data, privacy, recoverability and access of data, use, misuse, and mischief of data, credibility and disclosure of the data, and consumer protection and acceptance of the data.  He said that research of privacy concerns indicate that the concern is often less about the data EDRs presently collect, but rather what future devices might be capable of recording.


Some of the privacy and legal questions regarding EDRs are if the federal government has the regulatory authority to mandate the use and collection of EDR data, can federal government require manufacturers to install such EDRs, and whether individual state DOT's will be permitted to include information in their own state databases.  Other legal issues to be considered are:  (1) if private parties can obtain the data from EDRs without the consent of the vehicle owner; (2) can insurance adjusters, private attorneys, and researchers obtain the data at crash scenes or through pre-trial discovery without the consent of the vehicle owner; (3) whether or not police officers can seize EDR data during post-crash investigations without a warrant; and (4) does the search of an automobile to obtain information contained in an EDR raise a Fourth Amendment question.


Mr. Kowalick answered a few of the above questions by telling the Committee that it has been determined that federal government may require the installation of devices that demonstrably improve highway safety or advance some other significant policy interest, and with regards to the Fourth Amendment question - the police, or other government accident investigators, may properly seize such devices without a warrant during post-accident investigations.  Such seizure of a required safety device does not constitute a search implicating the Fourth Amendment.


In closing, Mr. Kowalick said that EDRs specifically speak for the victims when those victims cannot speak for themselves.


Debra Gabbard, Executive Director, Office of Budget and Fiscal Management, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, updated the Committee on the status of the state's Road Fund.  Ms. Gabbard said that the first quarter of 2008 shows a 7.7% increase over the first quarter in 2007.  She said that motor fuels and motor vehicle usage were $326.7 million in 2008 as opposed to $303.3 million in 2007.


Road Fund revenues, according to an October 15th estimate, show FY 2008 growth rate of 4.7%, FY 2009 with a 4.8% growth rate, and FY 2010 with a 5.7% growth rate.  Ms. Gabbard presented a chart depicting the gasoline tax (cents per gallon) for Kentucky and its surrounding states.  Those taxes were as follows:  Kentucky 21.0 cents, Missouri 17.6, Illinois 34.0, Indiana 28.9, Ohio 28.0, West Virginia 31.4, Virginia 18.1, and Tennessee 21.4 cents.  In closing, Ms. Gabbard stated that because of the variable nature of Kentucky's Motor Fuels Tax, Kentucky's gasoline tax rate of 21.0 cents  would almost certainly increase to 24.0 cents in FYs 2008 through 2010.


Roy Mundy and Godwin Onodu, Department of Vehicle Regulation, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, gave the Committee an update on the changes to the automobile titling process.  Commissioner Mundy said that as the Committee was aware, the old titling process, as late as June 2007, took anywhere from 23 to 32 days for an individual to receive their new title.  He indicated that with new procedures now in place as of the beginning of November 2007, the titling process now takes around 15 days before that individual receives their new title.  Commissioner Mundy cautioned that some elements may hold up the title turn-around time, such as an incorrect address, verification discrepancy which results in returning the application back to the county clerk, out-of-state transfer vehicles without a sheriff's inspection, incorrect vehicle identification number, and one signature when two are required.  However, he said that these discrepancies occur in only about 5% of all the applications the Cabinet receives.


The last person to testify before the Committee was Commissioner Paul Steely, and Craig Farmer, Department of Aviation, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.  Commissioner Steely discussed aviation needs and the Aviation Six-Year Plan with the Committee.  Commissioner Steely said that aviation offers economic development, emergency medical support, disaster assistance, tourism, and recreation throughout Kentucky. 


Commissioner Steely noted a new project the department is involved in with the Department of Education.  He said that in the first two summers of this project over 200 teachers have been trained to use aviation to teach math and science.  In fact, Commissioner Steely stated that the department has already won a National Aviation Education Award for this incentive.  The Experimental Aircraft Association AeroScholars Program offers on line courses in aviation for high school students (via Utah Valley State University) and college credit/private pilot written exam. 


Commissioner Steely said that some of the major projects in 2007 was the widening or extending eleven of the smaller airport runways throughout the state.  With regards to the department's Six-Year Plan, Commissioner Steely said that the department is in the process of updating terminal hangers in thirteen airports, fuel systems at nine airports, maintenance project at an additional six airports, and renovating terminals at fifteen airports.


There have been four newly opened airports, Williamsburg-Whitely County Airport, Marion-Crittenden County Airport, Morehead-Rowan County Airport, and the Hancock County Airport.  Commissioner Steely said that there is the potential for an additional eight other new airports if funding becomes available in the upcoming years.  He said that such funding would cost the state $137 million dollars with federal government adding an additional $24 million for the projects.  The eight potential new airports would be in the following counties:  Lexington, Fayette County, Liberty, Casey County, Whitesburg, Letcher County, Clinton, Cumberland Counties, Falmouth, Pendleton County, Taylorsville, Spencer County, Tri-County Airport (Gallatin, Owen, & Carroll Counties), and LaGrange, Oldham County.  When asked, Commissioner Steely reported that the Lexington, Fayette County airport would cost approximately $9 million of state funds.


With no further business before the Committee the meeting adjourned at 3:25 p.m.