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Matthew W. Daus, Esq.
Partner and Chairman, Windels Marx Transportation Practice Group
President, International Association of Transportation Regulators
Transportation Technology Chair, University Transportation Research Center

Contact: mdaus@windelsmarx.com
156 West 56th Street | New York, NY 10019
T. 212.237.1106 | F. 212.262.1215
 

New Federal Law Requires Some States to Improve Bike/Walk Safety

A slate of new guidelines will encourage all states to spend their federal safety dollars on protecting vulnerable road users, while requiring some to do it based on a new rule buried in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The Federal Highway Administration released updated guidance for how states should spend the money they get from the Highway Safety Improvement Program — a program which, contrary to the confusing name, can be used on any road, not just highways owned by state DOTs — which will provide $15.6 billion over the next five years for projects aimed at curbing roadway deaths and serious injuries.

The document places a strong emphasis on the department’s new national goal of ending road deaths completely, rather than merely making marginal safety improvements focused on drivers — a significant shift for a program that, until recently, allowed states to benefit from the federal money even if they set fatality reduction “targets” that wouldn’t actually reduce deaths at all. Namely, the guidelines:

  • Explicitly note that projects aimed at protecting vulnerable road users “warrant additional consideration,” over and above other types of projects.
  • Discourage states from utilizing the loophole in federal law that allows them to shift Highway Safety Improvement Program dollars to other federal programs not concerned with safety — something 23 states did last year — and encourages them to shift non-safety dollars into the HSIP instead.
  • Remind states that do “flex” their funds that there’s a new policy folded into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that allows them to use Highway Safety Improvement Program dollars to cover the 10-percent state match required to access another pot of money called Transportation Alternatives — or, in other words, that they can get the federal government to cover the entire cost of bike- and walk-focused projects, rather than just 90 percent.

The grants will be distributed to states based on a federal formula, which means that the Federal Highway Administration cannot actually deny states money if they do not put people outside cars first — except in a few special cases.

Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, states in which vulnerable road user deaths make up 15 percent or more of total fatalities will now be subject to the new Vulnerable Road User Special Rule, which requires them to spend at least 15 percent of Highway Safety Improvement Program funds on projects specifically focused on those groups, or else give that money back to the feds.

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Legal Outlook: School Bus Operator Compliance with COVID-19 Vaccine Regulations

 
 

Matt Daus was recently published in School Transportation News providing an overview of school bus operator compliance with COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The following is a summary of his article.

As part of his COVID-19 Action Plan, President Joe Biden called on states to make vaccinations mandatory for teachers and school staff. Currently, nine states (CA, CT, HI, IL, NJ, NM, NY, OR, and WA) and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have vaccination requirements for K-12 school staff, including bus drivers. Last July, California was the first state to announce that it would require all state employees to get the “jab” or submit to regular testing. New York also requires bus drivers to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing unless they show proof of vaccination, and requires masks be worn on buses regardless of vaccination status.

Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan also tasked the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with developing a rule requiring certain employers with more than 100 workers to implement “vaccine-or-test” policies. On Nov. 5, OSHA published its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) implementing the President’s vaccine mandate by requiring covered employers with 100 or more employees to develop policies either to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees or allow employees the option to undergo weekly testing and wear a face covering at work rather than be vaccinated.

However, 27 states and other parties sued to block the rule from taking effect, and a federal court put the OSHA vaccine-or-test mandate on hold temporarily. On Dec. 17, a federal appeals court overturned the stay, and OSHA acted quickly to set a Jan. 10 deadline for employers to comply with the ETS rule. Then, on Jan.13, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the temporary hold on the ETS rule pending further review before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. This means that, for now, employers do not need to comply with the OSHA ETS.

Matt noted that the Supreme Court’s decision does not affect COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements at the state and local levels that are mandated independent of the OSHA ETS.

While school bus operators in NYC are already subject to vaccination requirements under state requirements—and may also be subject to the federal OSHA rules—this highlights the patchwork of vaccination requirements that are out there. 

Also, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 guidance on workplace vaccine issues.  The EEOC’s guidance highlights some key points for transportation companies to keep in mind as they prepare to comply with the ETS or other state/local mandates, or for those thinking about mandating, incentivizing, or simply encouraging COVID-19 vaccines in their workplaces. School bus operators should work with counsel to determine how best to comply with COVID-19 regulations that apply to them.

Click Here to Access Matt's Article 

 

Windels Marx Transportation Practice Group News Feed - Volume 3 (2022), Edition 22
 
INTERNATIONAL NEWS

EC Proposes New Directive to Improve Gig Economy Work Conditions
Gig economy workers in Europe could be entitled to more rights and better workplace protections under a directive proposed by the European Commission.
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Visa Calls for Payment Standards in EV Charging
Visa is calling for a standardized payment system for Europe’s EV charging points that will allow drivers to pay with their chosen method.
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Southeast Asian Platforms Seek ‘Super App’ Label To Emulate Grab and Gojek
Shopee and Traveloka have ventured into food delivery and on-demand transportation, while AirAsia plans to launch an array of services in Indonesia soon.
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NATIONAL NEWS

Lawmakers Blast Federal Agencies Over 5G Standoff
Lawmakers went after federal agencies over the tumultuous rollout of 5G technology earlier this year, accusing officials of creating a crisis by failing to communicate over aviation safety concerns.
Click Here to Read More
 
First U.S. Mile of Wireless EV Charging Road Coming to Motor City
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a construction contract to create the nation’s first wireless charging system on a public road in Detroit.
Click Here to Read More
 
Slow Down: States Get Infrastructure Cash for Speed Cameras
Speed cameras could be on their way to a location near you thanks to President Joe Biden's infrastructure law.
Click Here to Read More

 
 

LOCAL NEWS
 
Chicago’s First Transit Rider’s Union Launches This Friday During Transit Equity Day Rally
As they build out an agenda, they’ll organize and lobby decision-makers to make changes.
Click Here to Read More
 
Lyft Drivers Protest Ride-Sharing as Pandemic Continues
Lyft drivers gathered to protest the reinstitution of certain ride-sharing policies as the pandemic continues into its third year.
Click Here to Read More
 
City Punts Fix for ‘Tracherous’ Queensboro Bridge Bike and Pedestrian Path by Another Year
Cyclists and pedestrians will have to fend for space for a year longer than expected on the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge’s dangerously-tight shared path because the city decided to postpone giving walkers their own lane until the end of next year.
Click Here to Read More
 

 
 

Driverless Cars Will Not Be Good for the Environment if They Lead to More Auto Use

 

For years, self-driving car technology has remained tantalizingly just beyond the horizon. Bold predictions notwithstanding, fully automated vehicles still have not appeared in showrooms. However, the technology appears poised for a leap forward in 2022.

Companies including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Honda are bringing so-called Level 3 AVs to market that will let drivers take their hands off the wheel under specific conditions, and virtually every major auto manufacturer is testing self-driving systems.

Automated vehicles hold tremendous promise. Cars that handle most or all of the driving tasks could be safer than human drivers, operate more efficiently, and open up new opportunities for seniors, people with disabilities and others who cannot drive themselves. While attention has understandably focused on safety, the potential environmental impacts of automated vehicles have largely taken a back seat.

However, by analyzing drivers’ use of partially automated vehicles and simulating the expected impact of future driverless vehicles, it was found that automated vehicle types will encourage a lot more driving. This will increase transportation-related pollution and traffic congestion, unless regulators take steps to make car travel less appealing.

Requiring future automated vehicles to use zero-emission technology, can be a big help. Nonetheless, until the U.S. develops a 100% carbon-free electricity system, even electric cars will produce some upstream emissions from power generation. Also, all car travel causes other harmful impacts, such as water and air pollution from brake and tire wear, collisions with wildlife and traffic congestion.

To prevent an explosion in driving and associated harms, regulators and communities need to send signals that driving is not free. 


Click Here to Read More

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With offices in New York, NY, New Brunswick, NJ, Madison, NJ, and Stamford, CT, Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP is a full service law firm formed in the mid-nineteenth century. Today, we represent domestic and international clients in the banking and financial institutions, energy and environmental, government and tribal interests, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, technology and intellectual property and transportation industries.

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