On Jan. 1, a series of new laws took effect that will increase the equity in Oregon’s transportation system, improve safety, increase local control and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Oregon Department of Transportation is responsible for implementing these new laws. “These new laws will help us move quicker toward building a modern transportation system that minimizes negative impacts to the environment and serves all Oregonians equitably,” said Kris Strickler, ODOT director.
Increasing safety and local control
HB 3055: ODOT has statutory authority for setting the speed limit on all roads in Oregon. While this has ensured consistency in statewide application of relevant laws and rules, this legislation will allow some local governments to set speeds on their roads which will result in greater local control, more expedient speed reductions and increased safety on local road networks. This legislation allows ODOT to delegate its statutory authority for speed setting to a city or named county for roads under their jurisdiction.
HB 3125: With today’s speed of online information, especially with mobile phones, video and pictures through social media, there is a risk a family could learn someone was in an emergency before law enforcement can contact the family. Starting in 2022, Oregon driver license and ID card holders will be able to register up to two people at DMV2U.Oregon.gov, age 18 and older, as emergency contacts for situations where they can’t communicate. Only Oregon law enforcement personnel will be able to access the emergency contact information.
Improving access and equity
HB 2498: This bill enhances the safety of Oregonians who are deaf or hard of hearing by creating an option to add a notification to their driver license and vehicle registration card.
“This significant milestone is geared to build trust and cooperation between more than one million Oregonians with hearing loss and our law enforcement,” said Chad A. Ludwig, Executive Director of Bridges Oregon, “It will foster a better understanding of communication needs while protecting and facilitating a strong relationship with law enforcement officers.”
Ludwig said over half (51.7%) of deaf and hard-of-hearing Oregon residents had difficulties communicating with police, according to a survey by Denise Thew Hackett, a Ph.D. at Western Oregon University. The indicator will be voluntary, and drivers can sign up any time through DMV2U.Oregon.gov.
HB 3026: According to Pew Charitable Trusts, many people experiencing houselessness lack photo identification because of the cost and difficulty of maintaining the required personal documents. A study from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) indicated that 36 percent of clients could not obtain photo identification because they could not afford it, and homeless persons were denied Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Aid to Needy Families, food stamps, access to shelters or housing services, and Medicaid or medical services. The NLCHP’s study also found that people without identification face increased difficulty with law enforcement. Beginning later in 2022, individuals experiencing houselessness will no longer need to pay a fee to receive, renew, or replace their identification cards. ODOT will be developing rules and partnering with homeless service organizations to certify an individual’s eligibility for the waiver and provide a form to bring to DMV to apply. More information on how this program will be administered will be available soon.
HB 2985: The legislation directed ODOT to diversify specific advisory committees to reflect the racial, ethnic, and ability composition of Oregon. ODOT’s actions have an enormous impact on communities across Oregon. To ensure all Oregonians have their voice heard in the process, we intend to apply this direction not only to the committees listed in the measure but across ODOT’s various advisory committees as recruitments for new members are conducted.
Reducing greenhouse gases
HB 2165: Now Oregonians looking to switch to an electric vehicle, and dramatically reduce their carbon emissions, can do so knowing that rebates will be available to subsidize that purchase. This legislation removed the sunset on funding Oregon’s Charge Ahead EV rebate program, funded through a vehicle privilege tax created by passage of HB 2017 (transportation funding package). The program originally was set to expire in 2024. The eligibility and value of the Charge Ahead rebates were modified to make the program more accessible. Electric vehicle adoption has lagged state goals, but has recently jumped with a 70% increase in registration in 2021 compared to 2020.