INTERSTATE COMMERCE & PROFESSIONAL DRIVING

vintage-interstate-commerce_1_3bf31e38ba

INTERSTATE COMMERCE, TRADE & PROFESSIONAL DRIVING

Interstate commerce is a huge piece of America’s economy. A huge piece of interstate commerce is the highway system which is in dire need to improvement. Legislation needs to be put in place that will improve the roadways and rail systems which carry most products being moved across the country. We need to find a way to do a better job making our roadways safer. European roadways are built to a much higher standard and hold up much better than our roadways, mainly because of the materials used and the thickness of the roadways themselves. I believe we should mirror this and instead of simply patching roadways, fix the problem.

One way to fund rebuilding our roadways and rail systems is to require all commercial traffic to pay tolls on all interstate highways. I also suggest that High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes should be replaced with Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) lanes. This will create a buffer for CMV traffic as far away from normal road traffic on the highways and would increase safety.

Additionally, our rail system needs to be invested in. In addition to providing a means to move mass quantities of freight across the country without clogging roadways, we can build a highspeed transit system similar to the European rail system which will also move some traffic off the roadways and will also help with pollution. All railways need to be moved to clean energy. I suggest that we upgrade the current rail system that parallels I87 and US11 to be able to handle passenger travel as well.

Professional drivers (truck drivers) navigate our roadways more frequently than anyone else on the roads. Many commercial vehicles are equipped with forward facing cameras and radar systems that could be tied into highway patrol offices to be able to keep the highways safer and allow patrols to cover a lot larger area with less presence on the roads.

Professional drivers face a constant problem of brokers taking more than their fair share of fees which takes from their earnings. Brokerages need to be restricted and regulated so that they cannot rob professional drivers.

Small trucking companies are strapped with high workman's compensation fees and even higher costs to insure their drivers. This gives an unfair advantage to large businesses or corporations that make it nearly impossible for small businesses to compete and keep their doors open. I would work on legislation to ease the cost of workman's compensation and insuring drivers for companies with less than 5, less than 10, less than 25, less than 50 and less than 100 drivers; each group would fall into a tiered scale that would not break the backs of the small business owners.

To obtain a professional drivers license, applicants need to be held to the standards set forth in federal guidelines and if they cannot meet those standards, should not be allowed to gain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Professional drivers need better legal representation and protection from employers. A professional driver should have proper representation to fight anything being put on their commercial driver record. No company would be able to add something to a driver’s record without an official Department of Transportation (DOT) review.

As of January 2022, federal legislation has been passed and signed into law as the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program and specifically in New York State as the Young Adult Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Program. New York is the first state to create and implement a program to train CDL drivers under the age of 21 to drive across state lines (interstate travel / commerce). Whether I support this legislation or not is a mute point and instead I would prefer to focus energy to create a safe and viable system to guarantee a nationwide apprenticeship program to ensure drivers are properly trained to preform the duties of a professional driver while maintaining safety on the roadways for every day drivers. I would suggest the base parameters of this nationwide apprenticeship program to reflect the following:

 

18 Year Old Drivers (Year 1 of the apprenticeship program): Drivers will attend a nationally certified and accredited CDL training program / course which will follow a standardized curriculum. Upon completion of the CDL training program, drivers will take the standard licensing tests which will no longer differ state to state. Once the driver has obtained their CDL, which will be identified as YEAR 1 CDL APPRENTICE. Hiring companies will provide a finishing program that will be no shorter than 6 weeks long and will not include any form of team driving. Upon completion of the finishing training, apprentices will be allowed to drive no more than 8 hours a day and have no more than 11 hours of on-duty time a day. Year 1 Apprentices will be limited to local driving (driving within 150 miles radius of the company) during their first year. In order to progress to Year 2 of the Apprenticeship drivers must retake the CDL hands on, written and driving tests and pass with no less than an 80% with no critical events on the driving test.

19 Year Old Drivers (Year 2 of the apprenticeship program): Prior to beginning year 2 the driver will obtain a new CDL, which will be identified as YEAR 2 CDL APPRENTICE. Drivers will now be allowed to drive intra-state (within the boundaries of their state of residence or employment only) and will be allowed to drive for no more than 9 hours a day and have no more than 12 hours of on-duty time a day. In order to progress to Year 3 of the Apprenticeship drivers must retake the CDL hands on, written and driving tests and pass with no less than an 80% with no critical events on the driving test.

20 Year Old Drivers (Year 3 of the apprenticeship program): Prior to beginning year 3 the driver will obtain a new CDL, which will be identified as YEAR 3 CDL APPRENTICE. Drivers will now be allowed to drive regionally, home weekly and will be allowed to drive for no more than 10 hours a day and have no more than 13 hours of on-duty time a day. In order to complete the Apprenticeship drivers must retake the CDL hands on, written and driving tests and pass with no less than an 80% with no critical events on the driving test.

Upon completion of the apprenticeship program, drivers will be allowed to work at any capacity within the professional driving profession and can further their career by obtaining additional certification such as Tanker, Hazardous Materials hauling, doubles and triples hauling and more.

Specifically speaking on how I would represent North Country on the topic of interstate commerce, as well as international commerce would be to draw up a plan with the Mohawk Tribal Leadership and the North Country Highway departments to create a connector between I81 and I87. A lot of freight is moved through Canada to the United States and it bypasses the majority of the area because there is no highspeed transit system in place; truck drivers would rather drive all the way down I87 to Albany, then west rather than driving down US11, a 2 lane road through the hills and towns of North Country.

Construction of such a roadway would open up a lane of transportation for westbound freight that would follow the St. Lawrence Seaway. This would allow for many businesses to "pop-up" and for additional ports for freight to enter along the Seaway. With the addition of this lane of transportation, hotels, restaurants, fuel stations will have the opportunity to flourish.

In response to the rash increase in the number of collisions hauling vehicles have had over the past few years, ALL trucks that have the capability to raise their bed to dump their cargo (dump trucks, garbage haulers, ect.) will have their vehicles modified so that they cannot travel at a speed higher than 5 miles per hour unless the lift area is in a locked position. No vehicles that fit this description will be authorized for use without this modification. All new vehicles that fit this description will be required to have this installed at the manufacturing plant.

Additionally, I would propose a plan to build a high-speed, electromagnetic rail system to connect Plattsburgh to Watertown, Watertown to Syracuse and Plattsburgh to Albany. This would allow for fast transit between the major populous areas in the district and the major cities just outside the district (Albany and Syracuse). This also would cut travel times to these locations while also cutting emissions and excess pollution. The only transit hubs would be in Watertown and Plattsburgh. These rails would be non-stop between hubs and major cities.

I would also propose sweeping legislation that would guarantee installation of high-speed internet (not via satellite) to every residence and business in the district. It is 2021 and there is no reason that any residence or business should not have the availability to have high speed internet which is all but a necessity in today’s day and age.