Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205
02/08/2005 01:30 PM TRANSPORTATION
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 63-USE SEAT BELT ROAD SIGNS MS. CHERYL SUTTON, staff to Senator Ben Stevens, introduced SB 63. Currently under the highway fatality memorial signs program, there are no provisions for a seatbelt sign. Research shows that 55 percent of fatalities in accidents could have been avoided had the individual been wearing a seatbelt. The Department of Transportation (DOT) can incorporate this type of sign into the memorial program. SB 63 provides suggested sign options for the committee. The intent is to have the sign incorporated under the program and posted at the sites of fatal accidents where no seatbelt was used. The DOT does not charge for memorial signs because they serve both a public and a private purpose. 1:37:41 PM SENATOR THERRIAULT asked for clarification regarding the last sentence of SB 63. MS. SUTTON deferred to the DOT. SENATOR THERRIAULT asked the need for a title. MS. SUTTON informed the title of the bill is to honor a young man who died. 1:39:09 PM SENATOR THERRIAULT stated it was uncommon to name a statute after an individual. Senator Kookesh joined the committee. SENATOR FRENCH asked whether the suggestive sign options were binding. MS. SUTTON said not necessarily. They are just suggestions. SENATOR FRENCH envisioned a standard safety sign. MS. SUTTON said SB 63 was specifically directed toward buckling up. CHAIR HUGGINS inquired about the sign specifics. 1:41:31 PM MS. SUTTON did not know precisely what the sign would look like. SENATOR COWDERY asked whether other states have similar legislation. MS. SUTTON did not know. CHAIR HUGGINS called the DOT representatives to testify. 1:42:55 PM MS. NONA WILSON, legislative liaison, Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT), and Mark Neidhold, chief of design and construction standards, Alaska DOT testified regarding SB 63. MS. WILSON addressed Senator Therriault's question regarding the last line of SB 63. There are placement criteria regulations regarding sign management. The DOT maintains concern regarding highway clutter and driver distractions, and must have authority over signage organization. MR. NEIDHOLD added signs were placed after considering several issues such as the proliferation of signs on the roadway, potential distracters, placement of safe distance from the side of road, etc. The last line of SB 63 preserves the DOT's authority to manage signage. 1:45:37 PM SENATOR COWDERY asked whether other states had passed similar legislation. MR. NEIDHOLD said signs were allowed through a federal uniform standard. Other states do post signs within the regulatory standards but he was not sure about memorial signs. SENATOR COWDERY asked whether an administrative order rather than a statute could accomplish the issue. MS. WILSON answered it could be done either way. SENATOR COWDERY asked who maintains the memorial signs. MR. NEIDHOLD explained the DOT maintains the signs and there is a term limit by Alaska code. 1:47:48 PM SENATOR THERRIAULT asked the limitations on what the DOT could erect. MR. NEIDHOLD referenced Alaska administrative code. Two signs are allowed under the memorial program, which are supplementary plaques. They are "please drive safely", or "please don't drink and drive", supplemented by "in memory of", or sponsored by the name of the family. MS. WILSON clarified the DOT absorbs the costs ($500) of posting signs. SENATOR THERRIAULT asked Mr. Neidhold to describe the sign SB 63 is proposing. MR. NEIDHOLD said the DOT recommends the sign be similar to preexisting signage with a supplemental plaque. Regulatory signs should be stand alone signs because it speaks to uniformity and driver expectancy. Regulatory signs are non-distracting. SENATOR THERRIAULT asked the latitude that line 8 gives the DOT. 1:52:07 PM MS. WILSON responded it was for sensible placement criteria and general area compromise. CHAIR HUGGINS asked whether the DOT had any issues with SB 63. MS. WILSON said no. 1:55:41 PM CHAIR HUGGINS asked the position of the safety officer. MR. NEIDHOLD responded the safety staff is on board. MS. WILSON added there is the support of the Alaska Highway Safety Office as well. 2:00:21 PM SENATOR THERRIAULT moved Amendment 1. Line 8 after the word "at" insert "or near". Hearing no objections, Amendment 1 was adopted. SENATOR THERRIAULT moved Amendment 2. Delete Section 1. 2:02:31 PM CHAIR HUGGINS asked for sponsor concerns regarding Amendment 2. MS. SUTTON could not speak for Senator Ben Stevens but added he wanted Section 1 in the bill. 2:03:18 PM Hearing no objections, the committee adopted Amendment 2 2:04:27 PM SENATOR THERRIAULT moved CSSB 63(TRA) out of committee as amended with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. Hearing no objections, the motion carried.