Automation Moving Forward
Aug 14, 2019


As the transportation industry keeps moving forward in automation, the Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation (ACAT), which was supposed to advise the Dept. of Transportation (DOT) in drafting federal policies around new deployment of automated transportation, was disbanded



Yes…but only once.  In January 2017.  Originally formed in the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency, the ACAT consisted of 25 members coming from various branches of the transportation world, including executives, professors, and politicians.  Some members hoped they would have been utilized to make safety recommendations and recommendations for standards so there wouldn’t be different standards across states.  The DOT stated it decided to instead focus on issuing public notices and take comments on potential rule-makings.  Congress has yet to pass any uniform autonomous vehicle legislation but is looking to introduce a bill soon.



Carmakers and suppliers collaborated with so-called white hat hackers – cyber experts who specialize in discovering vulnerabilities to help organizations – at a cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas.  Attendees could visit the car hacking site to try their hand at taking over specific car functions and provided a rare opportunity to learn about car hacking.



Autonomous vehicles (okay, six vehicles) are now in New York City.  A self-driving tech company launched the six-car fleet at Brooklyn’s Navy Yard last week.  Passengers can ride to and from a recently opened ferry landing in an enclosed space of the Brooklyn Navy Yard campus – and the rides are free.  It expects to transport 500 passengers a day and more than 16,000 passengers a month.  Still in testing, every car has a safety driver and software operator on board.  In Texas, driverless trucks are on the road and making deliveries between Dallas and Houston.


New Laws in the Empire State


Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation making it a felony to intentionally cause a car crash in order to collect an insurance payout.  The new law closes loopholes in insurance laws and adds higher penalties for people who stage auto accidents.  It also makes it a separate felony to seriously injure another person in a staged crash.



Gov. Cuomo also signed into law legislation that allows schools in New York to install cameras on the stop arms of school buses to catch motorists who put students at risk.  The cameras will automatically record each vehicle that passes it illegally.  Drivers caught on camera passing a stopped bus would face $250 tickets, with higher fines for repeat violators.  Revenue from fines will be split between local school districts and municipalities. 


Making Our Way Around the Country


A U.S. appeals court upheld an injunction barring the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) from enforcing Obama-era guidance restricting the use of criminal background checks in hiring against the state of Texas.  The guidance was to address the disproportionate arrest and conviction rates on the employment of minorities through an individualized assessment conducted by an employer of a candidate’s criminal history, and its relatedness to the position being sought.  The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the EEOC does not have rule-making enforcement authority to require that employers conduct job-relatedness assessments of their candidates’ criminal histories as part of the background check process.  Specifically, federal government cannot limit the state of Texas’ use of criminal background checks during the hiring process for state jobs.  We’ll keep watch on how this might come up in other jurisdictions.



Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Caleb Frostman announced that the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) successfully rolled out a new electronic warrant filing system that streamlines the process to file DWC warrants.  The new e-warrant filing system allows DWC staff to seamlessly file warrants with Wisconsin circuit courts when DWC looks to recover benefit costs paid out of the state’s Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF).  The UEF pays benefits on claims filed by employees who are injured while working for illegally uninsured employers.  DWC processes more than 4,000 transactions annually, and it’s estimated to save more than $55,000 per year.



The best day of the year arrived over the weekend – a day of service at Give Kids the World Village (GKTW).  I was joined by over 1,200 volunteers from our industry as part of the Workers’ Compensation Institute (WCI) Education Conference.  GKTW is an 84-acre nonprofit resort in Central Florida that provide weeklong, cost-free vacation to children with critical illnesses and their families.  The Village brings memories and hope to these children and families.  A big thank you to Jim McConnauhhay and Steve Rissman, WCI Founders, for introducing me to a wonderful awe-inspiring organization.


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