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PEER TO PEER

A yearly video contest invites teens to tell their peers why smart driving is important.

Don’t Drive Stupid is a Zero Fatalities  communication effort that tells teens to take driving seriously. Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens across the nation. A combination of factors may contribute to the sad statistic. Teens tend to drive with multiple passengers which puts young drivers at risk for being distracted. And, teens lack experience in high risk driving situations. The Don’t Drive Stupid video contest lets teens create a message that resonates with other young drivers.

Kasper Kubica is the winner of the 2012 contest:

 

BUCKLE UP FOR THE ONES YOU LOVE

UDOT, the Utah Highway Patrol, and Zero Fatalities are encouraging people to buckle up not just for themselves but also for their loved ones.

The Zero Fatalities team kicked off the year at its annual press conference by announcing that Utah’s traffic fatalities are at the lowest point they have been since 1974 with 233 fatalities. While the numbers have gone down, the stats are still no where near reaching its goal. This past year, Utah had an 89.2 percent seat belt usage rate—yet the 11 percent who did not buckle up accounted for more than 30 percent of the traffic fatalities alone, and more than one in three traffic fatalities over the last five years.

The conference also highlighted a young girl Ashli Hendricks who was devastated when a tragic car crash took her father’s life in 2001. A video of Ashli’s story was shown which spoke to parents who don’t wear seat belts and are putting their families’ futures at risk.

Based on a focus group conducted by UDOT, drivers say that their motivation for buckling up is if their family members tell them to. Speakers emphasized to drivers the importance of thinking about others, especially their loved ones, when driving on the road and not wearing a seat belt.

“It may not be the most important thing to you,” said Ashli. “But it is the most important thing to [your family].”

This guest post was written by Monica Hasebi. Monica is an information specialist in the UDOT Communications Office.

KEEPING UTAH AWESOME

Governor Gary Herbert’s vision for achieving long term, sustained economic growth includes transportation.

Governor Gary Herbert spoke to transportation professionals this week. “There is correlation to what you do and successful economic outcomes,” he said.

Thursday January 12, Herbert spoke to members of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, a professional organization that focuses on ways to optimize transportation mobility and safety. To grow the economy and expand the state’s tax base, the state’s chief executive advocates a broad approach that includes job creation, a better educated work force and a well maintained transportation system that can support mobility.

Herbert explained that choosing between education and transportation is a false dichotomy. “You can have both and you need both” in order to sustain economic growth.

Herbert opened his remarks by reading a letter written by a grade school student. “I think people need jobs,” wrote the would-be staffer, who also congratulated Governor Herbert for helping to keep Utah awesome. Transportation projects support job creation and sustain the economy beyond construction, explained Herbert, who sited some examples of how improvements have benefitted the local and regional economy beyond the orange barrel stage.

An uphill passing lane was added to U.S. 89 in Severe and Sanpete counties recently, and the project reduced delay for road users. The new lane is not just a “quality of life” improvement, Herbert explained. Better mobility on U.S. 89 now supports better movement of vital goods through the area.

Business owners from the area have told the governor how the improvement has “helped their businesses be more successful.” A better transportation system allows businesses to expand to more customers and “enjoy a better bottom line.”

Herbert related the experience of a business owner near the newly constructed South Layton Interchange. The florist, who is located in the area locals call Old Town, is “doing quite well” after experiencing a lull in business before construction. “People had a hard time gaining access to that part of town,” said Herbert. The local area which seemed to be “dying before” is now being considered as a location for a new shopping center because of the interchange that “opened up that sector of town.”

In addition to supporting local businesses, transportation mobility also attracts companies that seek to put down roots in the state. In Utah “we can still get around town,” as opposed to other metropolitan areas that have slow commuter traffic.

Herbert shared the credit for keeping Utah awesome with the transportation professionals to whom he addressed his comments. “There is correlation to what you do and successful economic outcomes,” he said.

CIR STUDY

UDOT is working to improve specifications for Cold In-place Recycling, an important cost saving option for resurfacing roads.

The CIR process rejuvenates old asphalt into a new road.

Cold In-Place Recycling is a way to reuse asphalt on site. The process uses a long train of equipment to pulverize and add binder to old asphalt, then compact the rejuvenated material a new road. CIR is a cold process, so the energy used to heat Hot Mix Asphalt is also saved. There are also many CIR processes and uses, which gives contractors and engineers at UDOT options for bidding and designing good solutions for maintaining roads.

At about one half to one one-third of the cost of new asphalt CIR is a cost effective process when used in the right location. In order to gain more knowledge about the process UDOT is working with researchers and contractors to identify the best types of emulsion and understand the curing process.

Knowing more about emulsion used with CIR will ultimately help UDOT achieve a more durable product. The curing process is critical since prematurely putting traffic on the new road will cause rutting.UDOT puts a premium on getting traffic back on the road, so understanding the curing process will help engineers pinpoint the right time to open the roadway.

Knowing more about the process is a “big benefit for everybody” in the local transportation industry, says engineer Tim Biel of CME Transportation Group. Biel and other contractors are working together to find out more about the cost-saving process. The contractors have a vested interest in “being part of the solution” so CIR can continue to be an effective tool to rejuvenate UDOT’s roads.

SAFE DRIVING

Parents can help teen drivers stay safe.

Don't Drive Stupid is an education effort directed at teens.

Automobile crashes are the leading cause of death among teen drivers nationally and in Utah. According to Utah crash statistics posted on the Utah Department of Public Safety, Highway Safety Office website, teens age 15 to 19 were involved in more crashes than all other groups. Understanding why teens are at risk and then taking an active role as a driving gate keeper can help teens stay safe while driving.

UDOT engineers design roads to be safe as possible, but poor driving choices – like speeding or not using a seat belt – can’t be engineered away. The Center for Disease Control points to eight factors that show why teen drivers are at risk and gives parents advice on how to combat the risky behaviors:

  1. Driver inexperience. Help teens gain skills by making sure they get driving practice.
  2. Driving with teen passengers. Limit the number of teen passengers your child can have and maintain the rule for at least the first six months your teen drives.
  3. Nighttime driving. Limit or restrict night driving for at least the first six months of licensed driving.
  4. Not using seat belts. The most important way to reduce injuries from a crash is to buckle up. In Utah, over 96% of crash survivors were restrained compared to less than half of the persons killed.
  5. Distracted driving. Make sure your teen is focused on driving – cell phones, other passengers or listening to music can disrupt driving concentration.
  6. Drowsy driving. Teens driving in early or late hours can be at risk for driving drowsy.
  7. Reckless driving. Help teens avoid and understand the consequences for risky behaviors like speeding and tailgating.
  8. Impaired driving. Be a good example – don’t drink and drive.

Meeting of minds

As many parents know, getting a teenager to comply with family rules is not always easy. Steve Titensor, Clinical Director at the Salt Lake County Division of Youth Services has some suggestions for ways to foster compliance. First, parents and teens need to have serious discussions and “make some agreements” about expectations, rules and consequences. And start those discussions early – during pre-teen years – to avoid surprises.

Once those agreements are reached, follow-through for “both positive and negative” behavior is very important, explains Titensor. If a teen complies with requests to limit driving to daylight hours, for example, praise is in order. Conversely, breaking the rules should prompt the agreed upon consequence.

“Driving is a big responsibility,” not a right, Titensor points out. Parents “shouldn’t feel cornered” into allowing a teen to drive before he or she is ready. Parents need to carefully consider whether teens are mature enough, emotionally and socially, to make good decisions.

More teen driver resources for parents:

  • The Utah Safety Council’s Alive at 25 program offers a 4 hour course that teaches decision making skills.
  • UDOT partners with DPS to promote ways to reduce fatalities. The Zero Fatalities website has tips for all drivers, and links to the Don’t Drive Stupid campaign for teens.
  • The CDC suggests using a driving contract. Many insurance companies provide driving contracts for teens and parents to use as a tool to promote safe driving.
  • The CDC’s Parents are the Key website has crash facts and tips.
  • Parents Empowered offers proven strategies for preventing teen alcohol use.

HEART OF STONE

Tough and resilient Stone Matrix Asphalt gets its anti-rutting properties primarily from aggregate, not binder.

A Region Four project used HMA topped with SMA

The aggregate for SMA is gap-graded, meaning there are fewer middle range particles used in the mix design. The size and shape of the aggregate creates a strong stone-on-stone skeleton for pavement. Since aggregate deforms less than asphalt, SMA holds up under heavy traffic.

SMA uses more oil in the mix along with fibers that reduce the bleeding of the oil. The higher oil content makes SMA more expensive than regular Hot Mix Asphalt pavement.

Since it’s a relatively new product, “it took some time for the issues with the materials to be understood,” explains Lonnie Marchant, UDOT Region Two Materials Manager. Several local contractors have experience with SMA, so more projects will make use of the tough stuff. And UDOT specifications for SMA “are in good shape.”

The first SMA project in UDOT Region Two was recently completed on I-80 between Black Rock and the Salt Lake City Airport. More SMA projects are planned for Region Two during the upcoming construction season.

SMA is not appropriate for every location. Marchant says that SMA “is much more difficult to place,” and so “the material doesn’t lend itself for use on roadways where there are numerous tie-ins, utility adjustments or intersections.”

Acceptance testing

UDOT’s central materials lab tests SMA for oil content, gradation of the aggregate and compaction of the final product. SMA does not allow use of recycled asphalt pavement.

CABLE BARRIER

Cable barrier reduces the occurrence of crossover collisions.

Vehicles in a head-on crash collide at a force that equals the combined speed of each car. When vehicles hit cable barrier, the steel cable absorbs the crash.

Cable barrier is tensioned steel cable held up by weak posts. When installed properly between opposing traffic lanes, cable barrier prevents crossover collisions, which are “the most horrific crashes we can have,” says John Leonard, UDOT Traffic and Safety Operations Engineer. Often fatal or disabling, crossover collisions occur when a car veers off the road, into the median and then crashes into opposing traffic.

The steel cables protect vehicle occupants, absorb energy from the crash and keep the vehicle moving in the same direction as traffic.

UDOT started installing cable barrier in the late 1990s (Click to enlarge)

Cable barrier saves lives

UDOT has seen a steady decline of crossover collisions since the late 1990s when installation of cable barrier began. Since 2004,UDOT has installed nearly 200 miles of cable barrier. During that time, crossover collisions resulting in fatalities or serious injuries have decreased from nearly 70 to 20 per year.

The benefits of cable barrier are well known, but sometimes people outside the transportation arena don’t understand the purpose of the important safety feature that is installed between opposing traffic lanes on many Utah highways and interstates.

Myth 1: Cable barrier creates a hazard for motorists.

According to Scott Jones, UDOT Safety Programs Engineer, “putting barrier on the roadside actually does give people more opportunity to hit something.” However, cable barrier prevents head-on crashes that can be severe or fatal to occupants.

Serious and fatal crashes have declined since UDOT began installing cable barrier. (Click to enlarge)

Vehicles in a head-on crash collide at a force that equals the combined speed of each car. When vehicles hit cable barrier, the steel cable is displaced as it absorbs the crash and occupants are usually not injured severely.

Despite UDOT’s ongoing effort to educate drivers about the hazards of driving drowsy, distracted or impaired, people do end up driving into the median and into oncoming traffic, often because of driver error. For those motorists, crashing into cable barrier is much safer than crashing into oncoming traffic.

Myth 2: Cable barrier slices up vehicles.

Installed correctly,cable barrier especially is very forgiving when you hit it,” compared to concrete barrier or guardrail, says Jones. “We know that a lot of people drive into the cable barrier and then drive away – they never even report a crash.”

Like everything UDOT installs along state routes, cable barrier is crash tested. “Crash testing is really important because we want to make sure it will work the way it’s supposed to – it’s not just a guess,” explains Jones.

Myth 3: Placement of cable barrier is done arbitrarily.

UDOT engineers are very careful to identify appropriate locations for cable barrier, and to install the barrier correctly at those locations. Jones uses crash data to identify appropriate locations for cable barrier.

When it comes to installation at each specific location, placement is “extremely engineered” he explains. Cable barrier is generally most appropriate when installed on “flat or moderately sloped terrain,” according to FHWA. Engineers consider many factors, including how an errant car will react while crossing a slope between travel lanes, the distance from traffic lanes and the quality of the soil.

LIGHTS OUT

The UDOT lighting crew will soon start a systematic re-lamping of the I-15 corridor.

New, better performing sheeting on signs may eliminate the need for active lighting.

Starting a 10600 South in Salt Lake County and working north, soon crews will start working on Sundays to repair and secure areas where vandal have stolen  thousands of feet of copper wire from interstate lighting circuits.  First, High-mast lights, off-ramp lighting then and finally the underpass lighting will be re-lamped.

Overhead sign lighting that is located within areas of continuously lit interstate will not be re-lamped. UDOT is planning replace the sign sheeting on these signs with improved Type 9 or Type 11 retroreflective sheeting which will make active lighting unnecessary.

According to A.J. Kuhrmeyer, Government Transportation Representative with 3M, the FHWA, through the NCHRP, is currently quantifying whether higher-performing retroreflective sheeting is ample enough to eliminate overhead guide sign lighting. There is not currently a definitive study, and removing the lights is left up to the engineer’s judgment.

Kuhrmeyer points out some advantages of eliminating lighting:

  • Reduced maintenance costs and fewer lane closures
  • Improved personal safety since better performing signs are easier to see, faster to read
  • Decreased graffiti with elimination of catwalks in some areas
  • Reduced light pollution

Cost savings

The cost of eliminating lighting varies by location, but some metropolitan areas have enjoyed substantial savings. While not an official published study, the Indiana Department of Transportation eliminated 2oo signs for and anticipated savings of over $80 thousand, according to Kuhrmeyer.

Cost varies on both the energy and labor necessary to maintain overhead guide sign lighting, explains Kuhrmeyer.  State DOTs may save quite a bit when all factors are considered, such as the cost of sending out a crew to change a bulb, traffic control necessary, the per-bulb cost, all multiplied by the vast number of lights in operation.

WILDLIFE CONNECTIVITY

A replacement bridge planned for US-6 will include a much-needed Mule Deer crossing.

Wildlife crossings have helped improve safety on US-6 between Spanish Fork and Price, Utah. Cameras placed at wildlife crossings record still shots and video so researchers can observe wildlife. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Patricia Cramer, USU)

Helping wildlife cross safely will make the important route safer for road users.  The current structure is a box culvert with only enough for a stream. UDOT Structures Design Engineer Mark Daniels says the project involves overcoming a “geometrical challenge.” Designing the bridge with enough vertical clearance to accommodate a stream and a path for wildlife will require raising the elevation of the new road on a new alignment and redirecting the stream at two bends.

The bridge is being replaced as part of a comprehensive effort to improve safety on US-6. In 2005, UDOT received the final Record of Decision that outlined roadway improvements between Spanish Fork and Price, Utah. Since then, UDOT has straightened the road alignment in some locations, replaced bridges and added new wildlife crossings, wildlife fencing, general purpose and passing lanes, concrete barrier, guardrail, centerline and shoulder rumble stripes and warning signs.

UDOT has worked with The US-6 Wildlife Coordination Team throughout the process to improve safety on US-6. The team members come from FHWA, UDOT, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the Bureau of Land Management, Uinta National Forest Service, and Utah State University. The team has worked to identify high wildlife-vehicle collision spots and make recommendations for improvements. UDOT has had good success at implementing those recommendations.

Habitat Biologist Doug Sakaguchi with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has helped track high wildlife-vehicle hit areas for the committee since 2005. Data shows fewer hits have occurred in areas where new wildlife crossings have been built and fences have been installed over the past five years. The graph below shows an increase in average wildlife hits near the location where the new bridge will be built.

Experts are optimistic that a new bridge with a wildlife crossing will help reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Crossings and connected fencing work together to direct wildlife through crossings. The jump in wildlife hits shown on the graph is because “deer are finding that section where there’s no fence,” explains Sakaguchi.  He is optimistic that a crossing, in conjunction with fencing, will reduce the wildlife hits at the location. Since the two bridges on either side of the milepost 202 location work well for deer, Sakaguchi thinks that deer won’t be afraid to use the new crossing as well.

UDOT will keep traffic moving during construction by building the new bridge and then switching traffic to the new road alignment and structure before demolishing the old culvert.

THESE GO TO 11

UDOT signs may soon be more retroreflective.

Many freeway signs don’t need active lighting due to the high level of retroreflectivity of sign materials.

Gone are the days when all freeway signs require active lighting to be seen at night. The sheeting material used to face modern signs is highly retroreflective — meaning the light bounces off of the sign right back to the light source. Many freeway signs don’t need active lighting due to the high level of retroreflectivity of sign materials.

UDOT requires that signs be faced with retroreflective Type 9 sheeting. New Type 11 sheeting, which has a higher level of retroreflectivity, can be used. Contractors who bid for UDOT projects can select the most appropriate sheeting for the job.

UDOT uses active lighting on all system to system interchanges and other places where the roadway is complicated or the signs use a lot of text. For example, the I-15 to I-80 interchange in Salt Lake County has active lighting to assist state-to-state motorists. For other locations, UDOT uses active lighting on a case-by-case basis. Motorists who observe lighting fixtures that may not be working as intended should call 801-975-4000 to report the location.

Observations

Retroreflectivity on signs can be diminished over time due to weather, vandalism or other damage. Ongoing evaluation of signs, especially those that have been in place for several years, is important to maintaining safety on UDOT facilities.  At UDOT, maintenance workers conduct inspections as part of an overall plan to make sure signs meet new federal standards.

Visual inspection at night is critical when evaluating how effectively retroreflective signs are doing their job. Signs with small areas of damage may be readable during the day, but “the effect of that damage at night could be huge” says UDOT Operations Design Engineer Wes Starkenburg. For example, a paint ball hit can prevent the reflective material from shining in headlights.

A retroreflectometer can be used to take objective measurements. Several measuring devices are available – some require actual contact with the material being measured.

When signs get too old, worn or damaged, single signs are replaced, but typically UDOT identifies interstate segments where a series of signs could be improved. Replacing signs in a segment gives UDOT the chance to update signs that work together to provide clarity and consistency for road users.

Innovations

UDOT uses materials that have been tested by ASTM International, an organization that tests products to set standards for many industries. Sheeting materials are tested in a lab that’s set up to approximate how road users will see signs at night with headlights. Testers evaluate sheeting attributes including color, gloss, opacity, and texture, and take objective measurements.