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The “Walk More in Four” competition gives students a great incentive to walk and bike to school – prizes and improved safety around schools.

Cherissa Wood presents a Taylor Canyon Elementary Student with a helmet and scooter in the Walk More in Four competition

Nearly 4,000 Utah students from 76 schools kept track of the days they walked or biked to school for a chance to win donated prizes for the UDOT Student Neighborhood Access Program’s (SNAP)™ annual “Walk More in Four” statewide competition. To be eligible, students were required to walk or bike to school at least three days each week in September leading up to International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, October 5. Thirty children from around the state won donated bikes, helmets and scooters.

Nationwide, the number of students walking and biking to school has decreased in recent decades. Approximately 50 percent of children in 1969 walked or biked to school. Today, that number has dropped below 15 percent.

UDOT’s SNAP team is dedicated to encouraging kids to “build the habit of walking and biking to school,” says Cherissa Wood, UDOT SNAP Coordinator. Walking or biking reduces traffic around schools and improves safety. Health benefits are also a good reason to go self-propelled.

The competition is a fun way to encourage kids to walk or bike to school. The excitement over the annual event is catching on – over four times as many students participated this year over last year.

Parents can help their children practice safe walking and biking habits by discussing the following safety tips:

• Follow the safest route to school using the school’s SNAP Map (contact the school for a copy).

• Walk with a buddy or group.

• Walk on sidewalks where possible.

• Look left, then right, then left again when crossing a street.

• Cross only at crosswalks. Obey directions from school crossing guards, and walk bikes and scooters across crosswalks.

• Always wear a helmet when riding a bike or scooter. Make sure the helmet has a safety certification and fits properly.

• Wear bright clothing, especially when riding a bicycle or scooter, to make it easier for traffic to see you — or tie a bright handkerchief around your backpack.

• Never walk or ride with headphones. They are distracting and keep you from hearing traffic.

More tips and resources are available to parents and school administrators on the SNAP website.

About SNAP

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP)™ is a fun and comprehensive program for walking and biking safely to school that engages and educates students, parents, school administrators, crossing guards and communities. As part of the federal Safe Routes to School program administered by UDOT, SNAP focuses on student safety as its first priority. SNAP provides free resources, including mapping software, a 35-minute musical assembly and DVD, student activity booklets and teacher lesson plans, to assist in getting more students walking and biking safely to school. More information about SNAP is available at or by contacting Utah’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Cherissa Wood, at 801-965-4486 or


Utah storms are on the weather horizon and road users need to be prepared for driving on icy, snowy roads.  

An Incident Management Truck worker warns motorists of a crash in Provo Canyon

UDOT keeps state roads as safe as possible during storms. Do your part by driving the appropriate speed, monitoring traffic conditions, driving with care around snow plows and adjusting trip plans whenever possible.

Drive for Zero Fatalities

In any weather, drowsy, distracted, aggressive or impaired driving is unsafe. Icy or snow packed roads are especially unforgiving, so a heightened level of attention is required. Sometimes drivers don’t adjust speed to conditions. According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, Highway Safety office crash data report “speed is the leading unsafe driving behavior that contributes to deaths.”

High speeds extend the distance necessary to stop, reduce a drivers’ ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the road and reduce vehicle stability. Mix high speed with ice and snow and tragedy can quickly result.


UDOT’s CommuterLink website is a great resource for road users. It’s a good idea to bookmark the site and check road conditions before you leave on your commute or errand. The site integrates camera views and information about accidents and traffic delay on an interactive map. Users can take a virtual look at the ride through the storm to anticipate conditions like ice or snow on the road or crashes that slow traffic.  Better yet – avoid delay altogether by taking an alternate route or adjusting travel time.

Stay safe around snow plows

  • Motorists should always slow down and travel about a football field’s length behind snowplows to increase highway safety for all drivers.
  • Following a snowplow too closely often results in broken windshields or damaged paint caused by salt or abrasives being distributed on highways.
  • Drivers should use extreme caution when passing a snowplow and never pass on the right side or use the shoulder to pass. Drivers should watch for snowplows equipped with wing plows, which can extend several feet off either side.

Other things to remember:

  • Bridges freeze first. Ambient air temperature cools the bridge from both sides. On the road itself, “the ground holds the heat,” says Rich Clarke, UDOT Maintenance Operations Engineer. So, pavement on a bridge can be icy while road pavement on either side can be wet.
  • Ice can be very difficult to detect.  A thin layer of water on pavement “can change from wet to ice in a moment,” says Clarke. Visually distinguishing unfrozen water from black ice while driving is extremely difficult if not impossible.
  • If you can, stay home during the first part of a storm. Plow operators clear the road as quickly as possible. “The first hour of a storm can be the most treacherous,” since a vigorous storm can cover roads quickly, explains Lynn Burnhard, UDOT Maintenance Methods Engineer. Delaying your departure gives UDOT a chance to clear the roads.
  • Don’t make weather assumptions.  “Be careful not to generalize,” when it comes to storms cautions meteorologist Joel Dreessen who works with UDOT. Since the storms vary greatly in temperature and duration in Utah, it’s very difficult to know what kind of winter conditions to expect. Utah can get hit with a heavy snow storm followed by sun. While the roads may look clear after such a weather event, a quick drop in temperature can turn melted snow to ice.  A very cold storm can cause road water and snow to glaze quickly.  So, even a storm that appears to be light can in reality can create very hazardous conditions.

Be careful out there!


AASHTO praises UDOT for encouraging kids to walk and bike safely to and from school.

The AASHTO President’s Transportation Award for Highway Traffic Safety has been given to UDOT’s Student Neighborhood Access Program team.

UDOT’s  SNAP  team has been helping elementary and junior high schools identify safe routes to schools for four years. The program provides free web-based software that produces area specific printable maps that identify safe routes. Encouraging kids to safely walk or bike to school helps reduce automobile traffic around schools and improves safety. Walking and biking also provides great health benefits for kids. Seventy four percent of schools in Utah use SNAP software.

Not all schools are surrounded by sidewalks. When funding is available, the SNAP team helps schools identify and obtain funding to build sidewalks in critical areas.

The SNAP team sponsors a fun assembly with catchy music and dancing. The program has been so popular that the team made a video of the assembly so the safe walking and biking message could get to more students in Utah.

SNAP also sponsors an annual event called “Walk More in Four” that encourages kids to bike or walk to school at least 60 percent of the time in a four week period. Schools and students are awarded prizes for participation.



UDOT grade school assemblies encourage safety around heavy equipment and construction zones.

Kids learn about hazards associated with road work in a mock construction zone

Mammoth earth movers, diggers or pavers are intriguing to kids but not safe as jungle gyms. The construction zones where road work takes place can be full of hazards too. UDOT has developed a fun way to communicate with children about how important it is to stay away from construction equipment and work zones. School assemblies that mix activities with a serious message are teaching kids to “Think Safety.”

“We coordinated with the Think Safety campaign, which is part of the Zero Fatalities effort, to do an assembly at several schools for the Bangerter 2.0 project,” says Justin Smart who works with UDOT.  Four large elementary schools are near the project.

Lora Hudson helped develop the assembly. She and others have presented about 20 assemblies associated with Bangerter 2.0 and other construction projects near schools. Hudson takes a kid-friendly approach that prompts interest and awe. For example, a giant banner with a true-to-size truck tire and measuring tape shows how big construction equipment can really be. Sometimes Hudson invites a tiny kindergartner or a very tall student to step up to the measuring tape. The students and teachers are surprised to see how miniature a young child looks, and that an older child “is not so tall compared to a truck.”

Tag team with construction workers

Hudson makes sure children learn about specific dangers. A project worker attends the assembly too, and describes real, hazards like trenches, steel bars, nails and debris. Hudson says kids often react with surprise when hearing the real reasons zones are dangerous.

To bring the message home, a few kids get to navigate a mock construction zone relay race dressed in safety gear while classmates cheer on. All draw on newly acquired “Think Safety” knowledge. “They love it,” says Hudson. At the end of the assembly, students get a coloring page to take home as a reminder.

Columbia Elementary Principal Kathe Riding thought the assembly was very informative for students. “Our students enjoyed the competitions and activities as they learned to watch out for dangers and how to be safe near construction.” Riding is grateful to UDOT for being proactive in keeping kids safe.


Combining two safety countermeasures is preventing cross-over crashes and keeping cable barrier up to do its important job.

Cable barrier and guardrail on I-84

Cable barrier and guard rail are ubiquitous on interstates and highways across the nation. But, UDOT’s innovative integration of those two safety countermeasures is only being used in Utah.

Cable barrier is tensioned steel cable held up by break-away posts. When installed properly between opposing traffic lanes, cable barrier prevents crossover collisions and saves lives, so keeping cable barrier up and functional is critical. If a vehicle hits the break-away posts or the anchor point where cable is tensioned, the posts can fall and lower the cable or the cable can lose tension. After such a hit, fully repairing the cable barrier can be an extensive and expensive effort.

UDOT Safety Specialist Glenn Schulte has conducted cable barrier and guard rail installation and repair training for contractors and maintenance workers for seventeen years. The “one-bad-hit” issue has been effectively addressed by Schulte, an engineer FHWA and cable barrier vendor from Washington state.

Rough sketch

Schulte and his two associates came up with an idea – why not integrate guardrail with the cable barrier system at the point where a vehicle hit can make the cable lose tension? Schulte and friends discussed the idea and did some initial problems solving. A quick sketch on paper, and the idea took flight.

Schulte took on the responsibility for developing standard drawings at UDOT and getting FHWA approval. The Cable W-Beam Anchor System uses guardrail, crash cushion or end treatments and a secondary anchor. The system protects the area where cable is tensioned and anchored from being damaged by a crash. UDOT contractors can choose from proprietary and non-proprietary components commonly available and crash tested for safety to assemble a system that’s appropriate for a specific location.

The system was first used on Bangerter Highway. Since inception and first use, many changes and improvements have been made. Now the innovative system that was first a rough pencil sketch is a common and significant safety feature all over Utah. Schulte has sent standard drawings to other states for use, and he expects the system to be more widely used as transportation officials see the value of the system.

These slides show how the Cable W-Beam System protected cable barrier during a crash.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.


UDOT works with local governments to improve rural road safety.

Rural roads in Utah are often unpaved, like this road in Beaver, Utah.

In Utah and across the nation, improving safety on rural roads can be difficult for local governments and departments of transportation. Vast stretches of isolated roadway challenge drivers to stay alert. Funding for improvements to local roads off the state system can be scarce.  The federal government has charged state departments of transportation to tackle safety issues by establishing the High Risk Rural Roads program.

Except for the urban areas concentrated along Interstate 15 between Ogden and Provo, Utah is rural. The rural roads in Utah have many of typical characteristics as rural roads in other states. However, Utah has a greater percentage of rural roads on the state road system, making investigating, budgeting and improving rural road safety easier.  UDOT works with local governments to improve rural roads that are not on the state system.

First, UDOT engineers conduct a safety audit by driving rural roads and looking out for known safety hazzards. Then, UDOT works with local governments to make changes that improve safety. Some of the most common improvements include:

  • Installing safety barrier on a curve to protect motorists run off the road crashes
  • Cutting rumble strips into the pavement on the side or middle of the road to signal motorists when tires cross lane lines
  • Installing median barrier to prevent cross-over collisions
  • Clearing obstructions from the road side to improve visibility
  • Installing warning signs or delineators to mark the shoulder
  • Widening intersections and adding turn lanes

UDOT took a public education approach to safety on I-80 between Wendover and Tooele County. Tired, distracted drivers were involved in run off the road crashes on the long, barren stretch of freeway. Signs that warn drivers about the dangers of distracted driving were placed on the route. After some time, UDOT surveyed drivers at the rest area on I-80 and found that most saw and read the signs. While not a safety improvement per se, the signs were shown to increase awareness of drowsy driving as a potential crash factor.

Improving safety on rural roads is part of UDOT’s Zero Fatalities Comprehensive Safety Plan aimed at reducing fatalities to zero on all roads.


The I-15 CORE project team does its homework before placing concrete.

A concrete curing/tinning machine on the I-15 CORE project.

At a month past the half-way point, workers on the Utah County I-15 Corridor Expansion project have placed over 1.7 million square yards of concrete. “Since concrete pavement is smooth, requires less maintenance and resists potholes, it’s often a good choice on high-volume roads,” explains John Butterfield, UDOT Materials/Pavement Engineer for the project. But regardless of pavement type, “the main thing that drives pavement design is traffic.” I-15 CORE pavement is built for longevity and strength.

During the bidding process, UDOT asked for 30-year pavement. Provo River Constructors included a 40-year pavement design as a value-added feature in their winning proposal. The entire pavement section, bottom to top, consists of four layers: granular borrow, drainable granular borrow, asphalt base and 12 inches of Portland Cement Concrete Pavement on top. Together, the layers in the pavement achieve a structural value that is predicted from the road’s expected traffic volume.

Making sure the top layer of concrete meets final acceptance — and lasts that expected 40 years — starts with an understanding of how the specific concrete mix design will cure. For that important task, the I-15 CORE project team uses maturity meters — electronic sensors embedded in concrete and handheld readers. Using maturity meters has become standard practice in the building construction industry and is common in road construction.

Do the math

Before concrete is placed on the I-15 CORE project, “there is some homework that’s required,” says Butterfield, who explains the process. Because the compressive strength of a specific concrete mix design has a relationship to time and temperature, a maturity curve that shows that relationship can be charted. When inserted into core cylinders, maturity meters can be connected to a reader to access information on time and temperature, making the process very precise.

Data is collected by casting concrete cylinder samples and tracking the time and temperature of the concrete as it cures and gains strength. Then, the cylinders are broken at pre-set intervals to determine compressive strength, and that data is recorded and correlated to the time and temperature data.

Progressing work or allowing traffic on the pavement

Once data is collected and plotted, the “homework” maturity curve becomes an appropriate basis to measure the strength of in-place concrete. Workers assess concrete strength simply by taking a quick electronic reading in the field from data loggers embedded in the pavement. When the correct concrete strength is reached, work can progress or traffic can be allowed on the pavement.

For final acceptance, traditional cast cylinders made from the same batch as in-place concrete are still broken to measure 28 day compressive strength. However, for determining interim strength for the purpose of progressing subsequent work, maturity meters are a more efficient, precise and less expensive method than casting and breaking several additional cylinders.

“One of the greatest benefits of maturity meters is that they provide the strength of the actual ‘in-place’ concrete,” Butterfield says. “We no longer have to break cylinders, either lab-cured or field-cured, and speculate how closely they correlate with the strength of the actual structure.”


SLIDE SHOW: Concrete is monitored and tested for strength in order to progress work, allow traffic on the pavement or to determine final acceptance.

The compressive strength of concrete has a relationship to time and temperature specific to the mix design. As concrete hydrates, it cures and gains strength. Hydration occurs as the cement becomes fully saturated by the water in the concrete. The hydration process produces heat. Taking time and temperature readings of the concrete as it cures and gains strength allows workers to track the curing process.

(Click on the large images to see captions. Choose images by placing cursor in the black area below.)

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.


The Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware updates the size of test vehicles to more closely match what’s on the road today.

All permanently installed and temporary roadside hardware – including sign bases, crash cushions, traffic control devices, and various kinds of barriers, is crash tested according to standards established by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. New standards for crash testing have recently gone into effect, and are detailed in AASHTO’s Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware. The new manual replaces NCHRP Report 350.

This video shows crash testing using MASH standards.

The MASH updates protocol for vehicles that are used in crash tests to more closely match what’s on the road today. The new crash test criterion is being used on all roadway hardware being produced since January 2011. NCHRP Report 350-tested hardware is appropriate when replacement is necessary, and re-testing is not required. UDOT will update roadway hardware with MASH tested products as necessary – the old hardware in place now is safe.

Although crash testing took place as early as the 1930’s, standards that establish criteria for tests have been in effect since 1962 with sedans specified as a test vehicle. As crash testing has continued through the years, understanding about the practice has improved and updates that add more criteria and different procedures have been added. For example, a 1974 NCHRP update added a small car and also added tests for transitions, terminals, crash cushions and breakaway supports. A 1980 update added evaluation criteria and modernized procedures to conform to available technology and practices. In 1993, a pickup was added as a test vehicle to represent small trucks and minivans in use.

The Texas Transportation Institute is one of the first organizations to crash test hardware, including sign bases and crash cushions. The TTI facility, a decommissioned military air base, has long concrete runways that make a good setting for the tests. The modern TTI crash test video below shows a crash test of a concrete barrier on a mechanically stabilized earth wall using the larger truck specified by the new MASH standards for vehicles.

For more:

Download the MASH.

Read a recent post about tests on MSE walls.

See an interactive timeline about crash testing at TTI.

Watch a presentation about how crash test standards have changed.



UDOT’s use of an innovative traffic control system has earned national recognition for improving safety in an urban construction zone.

Using moveable barrier helped UDOT balance the needs of road users and workers by keeping traffic flowing and providing a large, safe work zone. Here, moveable barrier being adjusted to give west-bound evening commuters an additional travel lane.

The Federal Highway Administration and the Roadway Safety Foundation will recognize UDOT as a winner of the 2011 National Roadway Safety Award for using moveable barrier on the 3500 South reconstruction project. The annual award program honors “high achievers in the field of roadway safety” for using and documenting safety best-practices. The award will be presented on Tuesday, November 15 in Washington D.C.

While common on interstate highways across the nation, urban use of moveable barrier is less common. The flexible lane use system can be adjusted frequently to accommodate traffic flown by providing more lanes in the peak travel direction.  UDOT’s pioneering use of the innovative technology on an urban travel corridor will help other departments of transportation employ the effective safety strategy on projects with similar characteristics.

Moveable barrier helped improve safety, accommodate commute traffic, and shorten the duration of the project. The barrier improved safety by eliminating left turns, except at major intersections. Twenty to 25 fewer crashes occurred during the project, resulting in a safer roadway, less expense to road users and less delay due to crashes.

Traffic delay, which causes inconvenience, also has an associated user cost. Because morning and evening traffic flow was not severely mired, road users saved time and money. A conservative estimate shows that using the moveable barrier saved road users between $1.7 to 2.4 million by reducing travel delay and crashes during construction.

Reducing  the duration of projects is one of the most important ways UDOT limits the inconvenience of construction on road users. Using the moveable barrier provided a large, safe work area where construction could progress more efficiently. Partly as a result of the barrier, the project was completed 7 months ahead of schedule, leaving road users and businesses with a wider, high functioning roadway free of excessive delay.