For the first time in years New York Democrats control the Assembly, the Senate, and the Governor’s mansion. Though there is still much debate and compromise to be had in Albany there is no doubt in 2019 the Democrats are looking to make their mark. For those who operate trucks in the course of their business here are the 2019 legislative priorities put forth by the Trucking Association of New York (TANY):
- Congestion Pricing-We’ve discussed this topic in great detail but essentially the congestion pricing tax is flawed in the following ways:
- Trucks are vital to New York City’s economy. Currently around 91% of all goods coming into or out of NYC are carried by truck. Items such as pharmaceuticals and medical equipment to hospitals, food and beverages to restaurants, linens and supplies to hotels, fuel to homes and businesses, building materials to construction sites, and ecommerce purchases all arrive via truck.
- Truck travel is non-discretionary. The delivery time is set by the customer not the truck. They have no choice but to enter the commercial business district at the requested time. Charging a congestion tax changes nothing.
- Congestion pricing provides no benefit to the trucking industry. The proposed tolling program assumes a recurring stream of revenue to be generated from congestion tolls. If this program truly reduced congestion, it would assume a declining source of revenue. Also, there is no discussion regarding allocating a portion of revenue to improve roads and bridges. Nor is there a discussion of increasing overnight and on street truck parking. The industry should not be expected to pay for transit investment if there is not going to be equal infrastructure investment.
- Trucks already pay a significant cost to operate in NYC: Congestion costs the industry $4.6 billion annually. PANYNJ facilities are tolled ranging from $85-$105. MTA facilities are tolled ranging from $28-$46. New York is the only state on the East Coast with a highway use tax. In NYC there is a commercial motor vehicle tax. Not to mention significant fines due to lack of commercial parking and lack of enforcement in loading/unloading zones.
- Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act-The issues are not so much with the legalization of marijuana itself, but there are some concerns related to highway safety and employer protections.
- Highway safety. Safety is a priority for the trucking industry. Highways are the industry’s office. Research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that accidents increased by as much as 6 percent in states where marijuana has been legalized as compared with their neighboring states that have not approved legalization. New York must consider the effect on highway safety and how impaired driving will be controlled.
- Employer protections. Since safety is of the utmost importance in trucking, it is crucial that employers be able to maintain the ability to make employment decisions based on drug test results. Under federal law CDL drivers would still be prohibited from using marijuana as a condition of employment. That said, many companies have technicians working on the trucks, warehouse employees who operate heavy machinery, and non-CDL drivers who operate smaller vehicles. Employers must be able to make employment decisions based on the results of drug tests on employees that conduct safety sensitive functions, regardless of legalization of marijuana.
- Younger Driver Pilot- There is a nationwide shortage of professional drivers which is estimated to reach 174,000 by 2026. Some of the factors that contribute to this shortage are, the fact that a CMV driver between that ages of 18-20 can only drive within New York’s borders, the requirement that a CMV driver must be at least 21 years old to drive a typical 5-axle tractor-trailer, as well as the fact that many do not view the trucking industry as a career option. Also, insurance companies usually require a driver to have at least two years driving experience as a prerequisite for coverage. The inability of companies to find drivers impacts their ability to service customers and can create supply shortages and deliver delays. As such, TANY is working with legislators to create a pilot program allowing CMV drivers between the ages of 18-20 to operate a commercial vehicle within New York State. The pilot would include strict oversight, significant training, qualifications and follow-up before being allowed to drive on their own.
- HUT Repeal- As discussed above New York is the only East Coast state, and one of only 4 states in total with a highway use tax. This tax puts NY at a competitive disadvantage and is a large reason why NY ranks as the 3rdmost expensive state to operate a truck. Replacement revenue can be found in increases to registration fees and/or the fuel tax as well as in cost savings resulting in the elimination of the costly administration of the tax spent by the NYS Tax Department.
- Bridge Posting- Currently the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law states that the height clearance of bridges and elevated structures shall be posted as “one foot less than the measured clearance” bridges or structures having 14 feet or more of measured clearance are not required to be marked. This leads to both confusion and safety issues. Posting the actual clearance is one piece of the puzzle to reducing bridge strikes.
- Removing the Misdemeanor related to Hours of Service- Currently, hours of service and log book violations are classified as misdemeanors. Yet many of these violations are minor and have no bearing on highway safety. NYS should distinguish between minor and major infractions.
- Remove the Two Point Violation related to NYC Truck Routes- In NYC being off truck route is written as a moving violation and may place 2 points on a driver’s record, potentially impacting their ability to earn a living. A violation of the truck route may occur as a result of confusion by the driver as well as by the enforcing officer. Also, given the nature of NYC’s roads, there have been instances of drivers leaving a truck route to avoid hitting a parked car or causing an accident. Penalizing professional drivers for making decisions that would keep everyone safe is cruel.
- Truck Parking- The lack of adequate parking is a fundamental barrier to improved safety and efficiency. Without the ability to find safe parking, drivers are left with limited options such as parking in unsafe locations, parking in residential areas, and violating the hours-of-service regulations in order to find safe and secure parking. In 2010 the NYS Department of Transportation closed 6 rest areas along major interstates. Only 2 have been reopened, the remaining 4 must be reopened immediately. Investments must also be made in improvements and expansion of available truck parking options across the state as well as technology to assist drivers in finding available spaces.
(Note: newyorktruckstop.com is not affiliated with the Trucking Association of New York [TANY]. However, Zach Miller, co-publisher of this site and a member of TANY, sits on the TANY Board of Directors as the Metro Region Vice Chair. Any questions? Reach Zach directly at email@example.com)