January 17, 2021

Policy

Westfield Transport, the defunct Massachusetts trucking company linked to a June 2019 New Hampshire crash that killed seven motorcyclists, did not perform a required background check of 24-year-old driver Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, who awaits trial on several charges including manslaughter, negligent homicide and driving under the influence.

The company did not review Zhukovskyy’s driver history and safety performance, or complete a qualification checklist required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA). When the company first hired Zhukovskyy, a West Springfield resident who was arrested on a drunk driving charge in Connecticut just weeks earlier, Westfield Transport did not maintain a drug testing program for commercial drivers as required by FMCSA.

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, of West Springfield, appears in Springfield District Court on Monday. (Don Treeger / The Republican)

Westfield Transport only sought to add Zhukovskyy to its insurance policy about an hour after his pickup truck crossed the center lane on U.S. Highway 2 in Randolph, New Hampshire, and crashed into six motorcycles, according to National Transportation Safety Board investigators.

“They basically had nothing,” Michael Fox, an NTSB highway accident investigator, told board members in a public hearing on Tuesday. Essentially “everything” was missing from Zhukovskyy’s file when it comes to required safety protocols, Fox noted.

After an in-depth review by NTSB investigators, who are preparing a report and recommendations to help improve safety in the wake of the crash, NTSB members sharply criticized Westfield Transport and FMCSA for severe lapses in oversight and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles for systemic administrative failures.

“Not only did the RMV drop the ball, but FMCSA has missed the point as well,” Robert Sumwalt, NTSB chairman, said. He added that Westfield Transport “had nothing except for an unsafe safety culture.”

The NTSB unanimously found the probable cause of the crash was that Zhukovskyy, impaired with both morphine and heroin in his system at the time, crossed over into the oncoming motorcyclists. Neither distracted driving due to a cellphone or other device, nor road and weather conditions, played a role in the crash, NTSB found.

Bikers bid goodbye to 7 motorcyclists killed in New Hampshire crash

This photo provided by Miranda Thompson shows the scene where several motorcycles and a pickup truck collided on a rural, two-lane highway Friday, June 21, 2019 in Randolph, N.H. (Miranda Thompson via AP)AP

The group also found that broad deficiencies in RMV processing of out-of-state notifications and other administrative failures allowed Zhukovskyy, and more than 5,000 other drivers, to retain their Massachusetts licenses despite several violations on record.

The NTSB found that FMCSA fails to consistently issue imminent hazard orders against unsafe drivers and companies. NTSB described the shutdown orders as an effective tool that can block unsafe drivers and carriers from resuming operations under another outfit, a process dubbed “reincarnation.” Over the last few years, NTSB said FMCSA had only issued a handful of such orders, compared to hundreds of times under the Obama administration.

NTSB also called for added layers of oversight, including more on-site inspections and compliance reviews, of recent graduates of FMCSA’s new

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A Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy crossed the line when he kept shooting at a driver and chased him until he rammed the driver’s car to stop him, his agency has concluded.



a car parked in a parking lot: Palm Beach Sheriff's Deputy Connor Haugh shot at a man’s car as the man tried to get away, according to an internal affairs report. He was suspended for violating the agency's use-of-force policy.


© Austen Erblat/South Florida Comm/South Florida Sun Sentinel/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS
Palm Beach Sheriff’s Deputy Connor Haugh shot at a man’s car as the man tried to get away, according to an internal affairs report. He was suspended for violating the agency’s use-of-force policy.

Deputy Connor Haugh, 37, violated agency policy last year when Fakeria Phillips, then 38, drove away and Haugh kept shooting, according to a sheriff’s internal affairs report. He also broke policy when he followed Phillips and used his patrol car to ram Phillips’ car, according to the report. Even though the deputy opened fire, nobody was shot in the encounter that happened on Nov. 1, 2019, records show.

Haugh told investigators that he was trying to protect the public: He felt the risk of injuries to civilians posed by Phillips’ driving was too great to allow him to keep going.

Haugh is a veteran officer who started at the Boynton Beach Police Department in 2005 and joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2016. The Sheriff’s Office has suspended Haugh, though the terms of his suspension weren’t available Thursday.

Reached by phone Thursday, Haugh said that he couldn’t comment about the case. A police union representative couldn’t be reached for comment.

Last year, an undercover deputy — not Haugh — had tried to pull over Phillips while he was driving a rented Hyundai. The undercover deputy suspected that Phillips was dealing drugs out of the parking lot of the Barefoot Mailman Motel in Lantana while on federal probation, the records show.

That’s when Phillips backed the car into the undercover deputy’s unmarked patrol car, hitting that deputy with the open door of the Hyundai, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Haugh was nearby on an alternate assignment, heard what was happening over his radio and headed to the scene.

Internal affairs investigators interviewed Haugh and reviewed nearby security camera footage to determine that Haugh’s fears that the other deputy was in imminent danger were “well-founded.”

In an effort to stop Phillips, Haugh shot at one of Phillips’ tires. The internal affairs investigation ruled that those first few shots, when Phillips was still in the parking lot, were justified. But Phillips made it out of the parking lot and drove south in the northbound lanes of Dixie Highway.

Haugh then shot at the car again, hitting one of its tires.

Shooting at a moving vehicle is prohibited under the sheriff’s use-of-force policy, “unless the occupant of a vehicle is using or threatening to use deadly force by means other than the vehicle itself, and the employee reasonably believes there is an imminent threat to life.” The investigation concluded that after Phillips left the parking lot, he was no longer using deadly force.

Haugh opened fire as Phillips was still in the parking lot and then after Phillips left:

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Boulder on Tuesday expressed continued support for policies that further the city’s equity and climate action goals.

The Boulder City Council unanimously approved amendments to its 2021 policy statement, which highlights the city’s lobbying priorities. The council held a public hearing on the revisions in October. That hearing was continued, but no additional public comment was taken Tuesday in the second iteration.

According to the council packet, Boulder’s priorities on the Colorado level for the upcoming year include:

  • Accelerating the adoption of collaborative and equitable policies that ensure emissions will meet the targets identified in the state’s forthcoming Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap for 2025 and 2030.
  • Advancing the mobility needs of Denver’s northwest region, specifically the projects identified through the Northwest Area Mobility Study, while keeping climate action at the forefront.
  • Repealing three House bills, which together restrict local governments from proactively engaging with undocumented immigrants to meet community needs.

Federally, the city is prioritizing pandemic fiscal support, reformation of the federal pesticide law, support for Colo. 119 improvements as well as support for the city’s federally funded labs and the University of Colorado Boulder.

In its 2021 policy statement, Boulder outlines dozens of priorities with climate, human rights, public health and transportation initiatives leading the way.

There were a few changes from last month’s public hearing, including an initiative that would push Colorado to support counties that want to move to ranked-choice voting. That is important, considering Boulder voters overwhelming supported the Our Mayor, Our Choice ballot measure, which allows voters to select the next mayor through ranked-choice voting.

Chief Policy Advisor Carl Castillo said lobbying makes a difference, and the list of priorities indicates what’s important to Boulder.

“The short of it is regional, state and federal policy matters impact the city, and we have the ability to shape them,” Castillo said. “The adoption of policy statement provides direction for all city officials to speak and to advocate on the policy issues and to do so in a way that is uniformed and coordinated.”

Boulder spends $40,000 for federal lobbyists from Smith Dawson & Andrews and $55,000 for state lobbyists from Headwaters Strategies Inc., but Castillo said many other people play a role.

Several community members in open comment pushed for Boulder to support single-payer universal health care or Improved Medicare for All.

Jason Hubbard, a physical therapist, questioned how government officials can stand by and watch people die due to insufficient health care coverage.

“As a leader on the world stage, our callousness toward our neighbors across the country in this regard is staggering,” Hubbard said.

However, Councilmember Aaron Brockett said the city does prioritize providing greater health care at a lower cost, which would allow Boulder to support such a bill.

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President-Elect Joe Biden’s recent presumed victory in the general election will push forward major shifts in US policy across a wide array of issues, including transportation and infrastructure. Broadly, Biden and his transition team have indicated a desire to work with Congress in early 2021 to enact a large-scale infrastructure package, which would include what is viewed as “traditional” infrastructure – i.e. roads, bridges, transit, etc. – but it would also likely include language relating to ports, airports, schools, broadband access, water infrastructure, and clean energy projects, and could move as a combined package or as pieces of a number of bills.

There is also broad, bipartisan support in Congress for a comprehensive infrastructure package; however, there are significant differences of opinion on major issues between Republicans and Democrats, such as what elements should be included, the size of the package, and how to pay for it. House Democrats have shown support for far-reaching climate- and environment-related language, which they would likely push to be included in a broad infrastructure package. In July, on a strictly partisan vote, House Democrats passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package (the Moving Forward Act), which House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) has discussed with the Biden transition team. House Republicans adamantly oppose such efforts, but they have also included infrastructure legislation – which would look very different than the Democrats’ proposal – on their list of 2021 priorities.

With President-Elect Biden likely facing a divided government, there will be limits on what he is able to get done. However, his deep ties to the Senate and reputation for coalition-building among his former colleagues may help in constructing a package that can pass both a Democratic House and Republican Senate.

In addition to infrastructure, the 117th Congress will have to address surface transportation reauthorization. The one-year extension of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act – authorizing highway, transit, rail, and vehicle safety programs – expires in September 2021. House Democrats included a surface transportation title in the Moving Forward Act, and House Republicans released their own proposal (the STARTER Act), which will serve as a starting point for their interests in any conference negotiations. Meanwhile in the Senate, Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) passed the bipartisan America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act out of committee by unanimous consent. These bills will likely serve as the starting points for surface transportation reauthorization discussions in the respective chambers. Should an infrastructure package move, it is possible that surface transportation reauthorization will be included.

However, the key question for both infrastructure and surface transportation reauthorization remains the same: how will Congress pay for such a bill, and what action will be taken to find a sustainable, long-term revenue source for the Highway Trust Fund?

The current state of the economy and previous COVID-relief packages indicate a greater willingness by Congress to deficit spend on infrastructure as a next step in recovery

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India will soon bring in its vehicle scrappage policy which is expecting a final clearance from the finance ministry, will focus on eradicating the old polluting commercial vehicles plying in the country.


Vehicle Scrapping Policy likely to finalised soon; says Nitin Gadkari

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Vehicle Scrapping Policy likely to finalised soon; says Nitin Gadkari

Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari, on Thursday said India’s own vehicle scrappage policy is likely to be finalised soon. According to a report in PTI, India will soon get its vehicle scrappage policy. The highly-awaited policy is awaiting a final clearance from the finance minsitry. The policy will focus on scrapping old polluting vehicles plying in the country. Once approved, the policy will be applicable on all vehicles including two-wheelers and three-wheelers. The Union Minister also mentioned that this policy will help  boost the automobile sector and it will also help in reducing the production cost. The vehicle scrappage policy was earlier sent for an additional consultation with stakeholders on the direction of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Also Read: Scrappage Policy In Final Stage, To Get Cabinet Approval Soon: Nitin Gadkari

The Union Minister also added that the transport ministry was ready to extend the compliance timelines on regulations under the Motor Vehicles Act, excluding the vehicles affecting road safety.

In a video conference with the members of SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers), over the impact of COVID-19 on the automobile sector the Union Minister said, “The scrapping policy will be finalised soon. It is going to boost the industry. It is going to reduce the production cost. Yesterday also, I had a discussion with the Secretary and we will make it as early as possible.”

The automobile players present in the meeting urged the ministry to extend the timeline for the registration of BS-IV vehicles sold before March 31 along with other relaxations.

Gadkari also claimed that once the policy is approved, India could emerge as a hub for automobile manufacturing as key raw material available from scrapping such as steel, aluminium and plastic are generally recycled, which will bring down the prices of automobiles by 20 to 30 per cent.

In a bid to increase demand for electric vehicles, the government proposed amendments to motor vehicle norms in July 2019 to allow scrapping of vehicles older than 15 years. As per a draft notification, the government had proposed renewal of fitness certificates for vehicles older than 15 years by every six months instead of one year.

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The government also proposed that the newly purchased motor vehicles can be exempted for payment of fees for a registration certificate and assignment of the new registration mark, if the customer gives scrapping certificate of the previous vehicle of the same category issued by the authorised scrapping centre.

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Access the latest Transportation Policy Bulletins, Proposed and Current Regulations

Transportation Policy seeks to improve agency freight and cargo management and enhance sustainable, efficient and effective transportation operations.

Transportation Policy focuses on freight and cargo over 150 pounds, purchased and shipped into or out of federal agencies.

Our companion division, Travel and Relocation, addresses household goods and passenger travel.

Transportation Policy efforts include:

  • Assisting in the development of transportation policies, guidance and improved management practices

  • Developing training to improve transportation competencies

  • Helping agencies report transportation expenditures and key performance indicators to benchmark against high performing organizations

  • Communicating and collaborating with federal executive and interagency transportation committees

  • Identifying and sharing best practices among federal agencies

  • Serving as a federal liaison to the transportation industry

The shortcut to this page is www.gsa.gov/transportationpolicy.

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Transportation Research: Part A considers papers dealing with policy analysis (design, formulation and evaluation); planning; interaction with the political, socioeconomic and physical environments; and management and evaluation of transport systems. Topics may be approached from any discipline or perspective:…

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Transportation Research: Part A considers papers dealing with policy analysis (design, formulation and evaluation); planning; interaction with the political, socioeconomic and physical environments; and management and evaluation of transport systems. Topics may be approached from any discipline or perspective: economics, engineering, psychology, sociology, urbanism, etc., but must have a clear policy concern or be of interest for practice, and must be based on solid research and good quality data. The journal is international, and places equal emphasis on the problems of industrialized and non-industrialized regions.

Part A’s aims and scope are complementary to Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Part C: Emerging Technologies and Part D: Transport and Environment. Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review. Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour. The complete set forms the most cohesive and comprehensive reference of current research in transportation science.

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