Call to Order and Roll Call
The3rd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation was held on Thursday, August 3, 2017, at 10:00 AM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Ernie Harris, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll. The minutes from the July 6, 2017 meeting were approved.
Members: Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representative Marie Rader, Co-Chair; Senators Paul Hornback, Albert Robinson, Brandon Smith, and Johnny Ray Turner; Representatives Lynn Bechler, Tim Couch, Ken Fleming, Chris Fugate, Al Gentry, Chris Harris, Toby Herald, Dennis Horlander, Kenny Imes, Donna Mayfield, Suzanne Miles, Steve Riggs, Sal Santoro, John Sims Jr, Jim Stewart III, and Scott Wells.
Guests: Dr. Noelle Hunter, Executive Director for the Office of Highway Safety (KOHS), Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), Michael Schwendau, Assistant Director, Office of Highway Safety, KYTC, and Erin Eggan, Communications Grants Administrator, Office of Highway Safety, KYTC; Jim Howell, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for LifeSaver App, Kevin Corman, Jessamine County Sheriff, President, Kentucky Sheriffs Association, Robin Brewer, Executive Director for the Office of Budget and Fiscal Management, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Operations of KYTC’s Office of Highway Safety
Dr. Noelle Hunter, Executive Director, Office of Highway Safety, KYTC, Michael Schwendau, Assistant Director, Office of Highway Safety, KYTC, and Erin Eggen, Communications Grants Administrator, Office of Highway Safety, KYTC discussed the operations of KYTC’s Office of Highway Safety. Dr. Hunter stated the mission of KOHS is to reduce Kentucky’s highway crashes, serious injuries, and fatalities through a data driven outcomes based approach in which they seek to drive down traffic safety problems, through innovative program delivery, high visibility law enforcement, traffic safety marketing, and robust incident management initiatives. Together, there are several divisions within the KOHS that provide safety education, enforcement, incident management and response in relation to Kentucky’s highways. An organizational chart was provided to illustrate where each division falls within the Department of Highways, and more specifically, the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety. The Division of Incident Management includes the 24/7 Transportation Operations Center and the Roadway Assistance Branch. The Division of Highway Safety Programs includes the Safety Education Branch as well as the Grants Management Branch. Dr. Hunter stated KOHS runs on strong partnerships with over a dozen law enforcement and safety agencies and organizations. She stated the cabinet is guided by the strategic highway safety plan, a consensus driven sustainable plan which outlines measurable strategic opportunities to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The most recent federal highway funding bill (the FAST Act) requires states aligned core safety measures in the highway safety improvement plan and the highway safety plan in cooperation with metropolitan planning organizations.
Dr. Hunter stated the KOHS budget consists of the Education and Grants Funding division funded with $5,561,000 from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), $1,470,450 from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and $492,000 from the state. The Division of Incident Management, which includes incident management and SAFE patrol, is fully funded by the state at $4,305,000. Within the Division of Highway Safety Programs, Grants Branch, the DOT Section 402 and 405 program funds are administered by NHTSA. The KOHS uses these funds to enhance traffic enforcement statewide, utilizing traffic enforcement programs such as Click it or Ticket, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, and speed week. Section 402 includes planning and administration, motorcycle safety, occupant protection, police traffic services, impaired driving, high visibility advertising, and community traffic safety. Section 405 covers occupant protection, traffic records, impaired driving, distracted driving, and motorcycle safety.
The Education Branch within the Division of Highway Safety educates on occupant protection utilizing different presentations including child passenger safety as well as rollover simulators. The branch educates on the dangers of impaired driving by utilizing a 3D simulator to show the effects of drunk and drugged driving. They also use ghost outs, mock crashes, and other presentations such as a distracted driving simulator. The branch presented 147 school programs and 50 non-school programs for corporate offices and government agencies between 2015 and 2017. The Education Branch uses a data collection analysis where they assess public attitudes on driving safety and promote changes in driver behavior. The Education Branch also monitors and guides ignition interlock device (IID) installations and inspections, they certify IID vendors and educate judges and law enforcement on IID requirements.
The Division of Incident Management, Roadway Assistance Branch has 21 operators, three secretary support staff, two support staff, and five vacant staff slots. The Traffic Operations Center (TOC) consists of four staff members for the first shift, four staff members for the second shift, three staff members for the third shift, and three support staff. The budget for the Division of Incident Management consists of $902,222 for personnel costs for TOC, $1,997,778 for personnel for Incident Management and SAFE Patrol, $1,314,000 for trucks and equipment, and $35,900 for supplies.
The Transportation Operations Center is a 24/7 point of contact for KYTC. The center coordinates and disseminates information on traffic issues, road closures, and weather events. The center dispatches for SAFE patrol and incident management coordinators, and also supports KYTC district incident management teams. The TOC has three shifts with 11 operators. SAFE patrol consists of 26 highway safety patrol officers with 13 crews with three sections. The average yearly activity consists of 37,000 stops, which averages to approximately 1,400 stops per operator per year. There are three section supervisors one for the East region, one for the West region and one for the Central region. SAFE Patrol assists with special events such as the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, and Thunder over Louisville. The safety administrators for three regions (east, west, and central) cultivate federal, state, and local responder partnerships, and respond to major incidents. The Division of Incident Management has an incident action plan put in place for the 2017 solar eclipse that includes partnerships with KYTC, KYEM, KY Fire Commission, and the Department of Aviation. There will also be a mobile operations center provided.
Dr. Hunter stated that more than $1.16 million support national campaigns developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration such as Click it or Ticket, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and Distracted Driving Awareness Month. There are also statewide sponsorships such as the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville, Morehead State University, Kentucky Speedway, and different local radio shows that target most at risk demographics. The department is shifting the communication strategies away from a statewide approach to combat message fatigue to personalize these local and lifesaving safety messages particularly on seatbelt use. Local Heroes is one example of the shifting strategy, which compliments the local Click it or Ticket campaign with local imagery, PSAs, cable television, print media that sends the message from law enforcement which would much rather write a ticket than make a death notification. Dr. Hunter stated it shows that law enforcement officers care about their communities.
Dr. Hunter stated all of which had been shared is a move towards reversing the trend of traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Kentucky. To do so effectively, data must be relied upon that effectively illustrates the realities of highway safety. The data collected indicates an increase in fatalities. There has been a move away from the liner model because it artificially lowered the expected fatalities and injuries over the next five years. Instead, a polynomial approach has been adopted that does indicate an upward trend in crash fatalities, but the activities of the department will ultimately reverse that trend. The department is working with Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC) to observe the problems differently such as through heat maps of unbelted collisions in counties. It is the hope that each individual county will be observed through such maps to see where changes need to be made individually and collectively. Dr. Hunter stated motor vehicle deaths can be observed by county of occurrence, home-county of the patient, inpatient hospitalization and emergency room visits. These data points allow for cross reference internal county ranking systems overlaid with traffic records data, and feedback and experience in the field to address the traffic safety problems in a holistic way. The cost of traffic collisions in Kentucky is approximately $17.7 billion, with fatalities costing almost $6.9 billion, nonfatal injuries costing almost $10 billion, and property damage costing almost $1 billion.
In response to a question asked by Representative Wells, Dr. Hunter stated the linear model has been used since the highway safety plan has come into place, and that there is a requirement to have a specific formula for how fatalities and serious injuries are determined so counter measures can be assigned appropriately. She added that this is the first year that the office has worked closely with the highway safety improvement program. The FAST Act requires that the alignment of three core measures; fatalities, fatality rates, and serious injuries. When KOHS started to do that, they found that the NHTSA model artificially showed a lower fatality rate than what the data says should exist. But when a polynomial model was used, there was greater confidence in the data, unfortunately showing the number of fatalities will increase over time. Dr. Hunter is confident that the intervention methods that are used over time will drive those rates down.
In response to a question by Representative Fleming, Dr. Hunter stated Mr. Schwendau, serves on an autonomous vehicle work group that is studying how AVs will affect safety on Kentucky’s roadways. She added the concerns for Kentucky are several. There is an older fleet of vehicles, so even as autonomous vehicle technology begins to become more prevalent in Kentucky, it may be decades before most of the driving public could acquire or afford such technology. There is concern on how AVs will affect law enforcement. Kentucky is hosting a National Highway Safety conference in September in which panels will be held to discuss such issues.
In response to a question asked by Representative Bechler concerning how the cost of traffic collisions in Kentucky of approximately $17 billion is determined, Dr. Hunter stated there is a complex formula that is used. Representative Bechler requested someone contact him to go over the formula as he is somewhat skeptical of the cost that has been derived. In response to a second question asked by Representative Bechler, Dr. Hunter stated there is no data on impaired driving differentiating between alcohol-related or drug-related impairment, however she would like to see data concerning the difference in the future. There is data available on alcohol related accidents under and over the legal limit of 0.08.
In response to a question asked by Representative Santoro concerning the possibility of KYTC looking into closing railroad crossings which could help reduce accidents involving trains, Dr. Hunter stated she is unaware if that has been looked into. Wayne Gentry sits on the Governor’s Executive Committee for Highway Safety and is very concerned about railroad crossings. Dr. Hunter will confer with him concerning that issue.
In response to a question asked by Co-Chair Rader, Dr. Hunter stated KOHS discourages any fundraising activities that involve standing in roads or intersections, due to safety concerns.
Representative Riggs stated more accidents seem to be occurring in metropolitan areas, therefore the services that are provided should be provided in metropolitan areas as well as urban areas in order to improve accident data.
Chairman Harris stated the use of cable barrier and signage are cost effective ways to reduce accidents and he appreciates KYTC following through with both of those things. Chairman Harris also encouraged the continued visitation of schools in order to educate students on the prevention of accidents and how to improve roadway safety. In response to a question asked by Chairman Harris concerning TOC and the use of cameras, Dr. Hunter stated some of the cameras in the TOC are focused on major interstates and roadways, but Tri-Mark is a partner with KYTC in which cameras are also used and information is obtained through them as well.
Lifesaver Application for mobile electronic devices
Jim Howell, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for LifeSaver App, and Kevin Corman, Jessamine County Sheriff, President, Kentucky Sheriffs Association, testified about the Lifesaver Application for mobile electronic devices. Mr. Howell stated the Lifesaver application is an application that when placed on a mobile device prohibits phone use while driving, sends a notification when the driver has arrived safely to their destination, and sends notifications if a driver attempts to override the use of Lifesaver. Lifesaver is often used by parents or fleet management. Mr. Corman stated the Kentucky Sheriffs Association voted to support the Lifesaver application. Mr. Howell stated in 2016 there were 427 fatalities in Kentucky due to motor vehicle accidents and to date in 2017 there have already been 387 fatalities due to accidents. It is the goal of Lifesaver to help reduce texting and driving in hopes of reducing accidents and fatalities or serious injuries. Mr. Howell added that State Farm Insurance reports a $7 billion operating loss on auto insurance in 2016, an increase of 63 percent from $4.4 billion loss in 2015. Allstate Insurance reports a net income decline of 25.8 percent and Kentucky Farm Bureau reports a loss ration increase of 4 percent in 2016. He added that just as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) led the charge to reduce drunk driving fatalities by more than 50 percent since 1980, it is the bold goal of Lifesaver to reduce distracted driving by 50 percent within five years’ time. The Oregon Department of Transportation has paired with Lifesaver in order to combat distracted driving. Mr. Howell asked members to encourage the use of the Lifesaver application in order to help reduce automobile accidents and save lives.
In response to a question asked by Representative Harris concerning how the application differentiates between the driver and the passenger trying to use their phone, Mr. Howell stated there is a passenger bypass button on the application.
Road Fund update - FY 2017 report and budget reduction update
Robin Brewer, Executive Director for the Office of Budget and Fiscal Management, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, testified about the Road Fund and the FY 2017 report and budget reduction. The official enacted revenue estimate for FY 17 was $1, 456.9 million, however the actual revenues collected were $1,508.0 million, therefore KYTC ended up exceeding the estimate by $51.1 million for the year, approximately 3.5 percent over the official enacted estimate. As far as the motor fuels component of the Road Fund, the official enacted revenue estimate was 747.3 million, the actual received revenue was $760.5 million resulting in a surplus of $13.2 million. The motor vehicle usage tax was estimated at $469.5 million and what was actually received was a record collection of $499.8 million, leaving a surplus of $30.3 million over what was estimated.
Ms. Brewer compared the actual revenues of FY 2017 to FY 2016. In total, $1,508 million was received in FY 2017 and $1,482.5 million was received in FY 2016, an increase of 1.7 percent. The motor fuels tax received in FY 2017 was $760.5 million compared to $750 million in FY 2016, an increase of 1.4 percent. The motor vehicle usage tax received in FY 2017 was $499.8 million, in FY 2016 $484.4 million was received, an increase of 3.2 percent.
Ms. Brewer compared the FY 2018 official enacted revenue estimates to the FY 2017 actual revenues. In total, $1,478.2 million was estimated to be received in FY 2018 compared to the actual revenues received in FY 2017 of $1,508, resulting in a shortfall of $29.7 million and a change of -2 percent. The estimated motor fuels tax to be receive for FY 2018 us $749.8 million compared to the actual received motor fuels tax of $760.5 million in FY 2017, a reduction of 1.4 percent. The motor vehicle usage tax estimated to be received in FY 2018 is $485.7 million compared to the actual revenues received of $499.8 million in FY 2017, a reduction of 2.8 percent.
Ms. Brewer stated historically, the motor fuels tax revenues have gone from $563.5 million in FY 2007 to $760.5 million in FY 2017, with peak numbers of $886.2 million in FY 2014. She provided a graph to demonstrate the volatility of the motor fuels tax revenue over the last decade. A chart was also provided to show the road fund daily cash balance. The chart demonstrated that the road fund daily cash balance has dramatically decreased from January 2013 to the projected April of 2019.
In response to a question asked by Senator Hornback, Ms. Brewer stated there are approximately 30,000 registered hybrid vehicles on Kentucky roadways. Senator Hornback requested that, in the future when Road Fund amounts and other budgets are decided, the upward trend towards fuel efficient and hybrid vehicles be taken into consideration.
Ms. Brewer gave a short update on AVIS as requested by Representative Imes. The cabinet continues to try to recover any costs from insurance companies when citizens have accidents that involve state property such as run-ins with guardrails, signs, or other state property.
Ms. Brewer stated the general fund reduction order 17-02 was filed on July 19, 2017 which resulted in $62,300 being cut from KYTC’s budget for FY 2017. Those funds were from the Office of Transportation Delivery and are used for state match on federal public transit grants for public transportation. Additionally, the excess and unappropriated amount of $900,000 cash in three restricted fund accounts was transferred to the general fund for the shortfall from the following accounts: $100,000 from the motor boat titling fund, $200,000 from the Avis replacement account, and $600,000 from the county clerk IT improvement account.
In response to a question asked by Representative Fleming, Ms. Brewer stated the revenue projections are derived from the findings of the Consensus Forecasting Group, led by Greg Harkenrider from the Governor’s Office for Economic Analysis.
With no other information to come before the committee, Chairman Harris adjourned the meeting at 11:30 A.M.