Editors Note: #messageMonday is part of a relatively new, ongoing Zero Fatalities campaign aimed at improving safety behaviors on Utah roads. It is a partnership between UDOT and the Utah Department of Public Safety. More information about the campaign can be found here.
According to The National Safety Council, it’s estimated that 1.4 million crashes each year involve drivers using phones (e.g. making calls, choosing music, reading e-mails and texting), and a minimum of 200,000 additional crashes each year involve drivers who are texting. Distracted driving involving some form of phone use accounted for almost 100 fatalities on Utah roads in 2014 ALONE. Whether you’re making a call, looking at a text, or even having Siri send the message for you, there’s too much multitasking for your brain to focus on driving safely, and all too often, it leads to a car crash.
And no matter what caused the crash, your chances of survival increase significantly if you’re wearing a seat belt. Since 2005, unrestrained or improperly restrained victims account for just about half of all car-related deaths on Utah roads. Wearing your seat belt isn’t just a personal choice: it affects everyone around you. In fact, statistics show that unbuckled passengers can increase probability of death for other people in the car by 40 percent. Of course, since May 2015, it’s also the law for everyone to buckle up any time you’re on the road.
So there are the facts.
At UDOT and Zero Fatalities, we’re not trying to scare you into practicing safe driving techniques; it’s about more than that. It’s about each and every life that could have been saved had a different choice been made. It’s about that brother, sister, mother, father, friend, or other loved one who isn’t here, but should be. Car crashes may be inevitable, even with safely designed roads and careful drivers. But each time we get into a vehicle, we can control the choices we make to help keep our roads safer — for our families, our neighbors, and ourselves.
So please wear your seat belt. Wait until your trip is done to make that call or send that text. Your family and friends will be grateful for that choice when you make it to them safely.
State projects win in “Quality of Life”, “Under Budget” categories
BOISE, Idaho — Dedication and understanding of the impact state-controlled roads have on motorists in Utah was recognized today, as UDOT projects in Southern Utah and Northern Utah garnered two regional awards in the 2015 America’s Transportation Awards competition.
UDOT’s Bluff Street at Southern Hills Parkway Interchangewas recognized in the Quality of Life/Community Development category, which recognizes “a transportation project that has contributed to the general quality of life and economic development of local communities. These innovative projects better connect people to businesses, jobs, health care facilities, and recreational activities while encouraging a mix of transportation modes. ” With comfortable weather and access to many outdoor activities and destinations, the largest city in Region Four provides so much of what St. George and Washington County residents who value quality of life are looking for.
So many new residents have come to the area seeking this quality of life that existing transportation infrastructure has been over-taxed. Nearly 43,000 cars travel along Bluff Street (SR-18) each day, and another 13,700 go through Red Hills Parkway. The clash of rural vs. urban can best be seen here, where a state highway suddenly becomes a city road where many cyclists and runners converge to get to and around the natural preserve. It’s the meeting point four multi-use trail systems, and is included in the course of many major sporting events in the area. All of this activity in a traditionally constructed intersection places residents and visitors at risk.
This was how the intersection looked before the project
In order to accommodate the current population as well as the expected growth through 2030, UDOT, the City of St. George and the Southern Utah Bike Alliance (SUBA) collaborated to reconfigure the intersection by creating a center exit interchange.
The center exit interchange creates a safer section of road, while also maintaining a steady flow of traffic. Highway travelers can continue on their way on the outside lanes, while those needing local access take the inside lanes to an intersection that allows east-west travel.
The construction team saved $4 million in construction costs by utilizing the natural topography of the area and building the project within natural grades.
The project after it was finished. Note the center offramp and bike trails
The project also integrated bike/pedestrian paths into the design, with box culverts under SR-18 allowing for safer multimodal transportation under busy roadways, thus connecting the community in a safe, efficient and positive way.
“UDOT should be commended for their positive design process that encourages outside voices and ideas,” said Craig Shanklin, SUBA President. “This was a great example of how the community can be involved in the design process and lead to a better outcome for all users.”
The Diverging Diamond Interchange at Brigham City’s US-91/1100 South location was honored in the “Under Budget” category. That category honors “a project demonstrating transportation efficiency while promoting economic and fiscal responsibility. The award recognizes a successful project brought in under budget that provided the greatest cost savings to the state(s) while offering maximum performance.”
How do you move a steadily increasing traffic flow through an aging, small interchange at the connection of US-91 and Interstate 15, near the northern Utah city of Brigham City? With more than 20,000 vehicles a day — many of them trucks — originating throughout the region, this old, inefficient interchange was reducing the economic lifeblood of local communities to a trickle.
The new DDI at Brigham City on the day it opened.
The 40-year-old interchange would frequently clog when vehicles at its ramps tried to enter the traffic flow. The predominant west to south-bound traffic on US-91 was so steady during the day that it was nearly hopeless for other movements to occur. This prompted risk-taking by trapped motorists at the ramps – and frequent crashes when they did. Regional special events, like local university football games, would bring traffic to a complete halt.
UDOT traffic planners needed a solution, but the answer was elusive. Soils adjacent to the Great Salt Lake were saturated by surface groundwater, making the interchange increasingly unstable. Engineers wondered how to upgrade it without a massive redesign to accommodate the increasing pounding from trucks. Similar rebuilds had cost upwards of $100 million – prohibitive under state budgets at the time.
The answer: innovate. Engineers used an innovation to solve the water issue — geofoam — which allowed the new interchange to “float” on soggy soils. Another innovation — advanced bridge construction — replaced the interchange’s old bridge over I-15 while adding a completely new span in a little more than 10 months. Finally, the innovative diverging diamond traffic pattern was added to the design to solve the problem of congestion and safety.
The white blocks are geofoam, which was used to construct the DDI in a environmentally- and structurally- sound way
The result? An efficient interchange that allows all traffic movements to occur safely and congestion-free, and all for less than $14 million.
“What UDOT and the project team eventually chose to do was not only innovative, but a brilliant solution to an extremely difficult situation with many built-in constrictions,” said Bradley Humpherys, a Senior Transportation Project Manager for Stanley Consultants.
Utah’s two projects — along with projects in California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Texas — will compete against projects from other regions in the U.S. for a National Grand Prize, the People’s Choice Award and $10,000 prizes to be given by the winners to a transportation-related charity or scholarship program.
The top two national winners will be announced in September at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Chicago.
“These projects are a small sampling of the many ways in which state DOTs are improving peoples’ quality of life and providing for a vibrant economy,” said John Cox, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials President and Director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation.
The America’s Transportation Awards – co-sponsored by AASHTO, AAA and the US Chamber of Commerce – annually recognizes the best of America’s transportation projects in four regional competitions. Learn more about the projects and the competition at: AmericasTransportationAwards.org
UDOT is currently developing the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goal for the next three Federal fiscal years. The draft DBE Goal and Methodology Report can be found on the UDOT website at https://www.udot.utah.gov/go/dbegoal.
Comments may be provided to UDOT by following the directions on the website. The document will be available for review and comment from May 11 to June 10, 2015. Only comments related specifically to the DBE goal and the development of the goal will be accepted. All other UDOT or DBE-program related comments should be directed to the appropriate contact provided on the main UDOT website.
A public meeting / webinar will be held on June 1, 2015 at 12:00 PM at UDOT’s central headquarters, 4501 S 2700 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84114. At this meeting the DBE Goal and Methodology will be reviewed and staff will be available for questions/discussion on this and other DBE topics including:
DBE certification / application
Project explorer / project advertising
The following is a timeline for the public meeting:
12:00 Meet and greet
12:10 Overview of DBE Program
12:30 Presentation of Goal Methodology
12:45 Q&A Open House
The webinar part of this meeting can be accessed at the following link:
New Variable Message Sign campaign reminds drivers to stay safe
SALT LAKE CITY — (May 22, 2015) — Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of what is known as the ‘100 Deadliest Days’ of travel on Utah roads, and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is urging motorists to stay alert and drive safe this summer.
According to UDOT’s most recent fatality report, 89 people have lost their lives this year on Utah roads, compared with 73 at this time last year. That’s an increase of 22 percent. Compared to the rest of the year, traffic fatalities traditionally rise 35 percent between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day. During this stretch last year, 97 people were killed during the ‘100 Deadliest Days’—nearly a fatality a day.
“That’s just not acceptable,” said UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras. “When you consider the human cost of these nearly daily tragedies, and their impact on families and communities throughout Utah, you begin to understand why we are doing everything we can to make our Zero Fatalities goal a reality, especially during these critical months of the year.”
Beginning May 22, UDOT will launch a new variable message sign (VMS) campaign, to serve as a reminder that Zero Fatalities will require driver effort and attention. Each Friday, the overhead signs will highlight the number of days during the past week we achieved Zero Fatalities on Utah roads. On Mondays, the signs will display a weekly safety message to engage the public and increase traffic safety awareness.
VMS signs like this one on I-80 will have various safety messages during 100 Deadliest Days.
Through this campaign, motorists are being urged to:
Drive alert. Make sure you’ve had enough sleep before hitting the road.
Motorists planning trips on Utah highways during the Memorial Day weekend should plan ahead and check road conditions through the UDOT Traffic website (udot.utah.gov/traffic) or by downloading the UDOT Traffic smartphone application through the iPhone App Store or Android Market. These free tools allow drivers to access up-to-the-minute road conditions and traffic information.
UDOT looked at average speeds for January, February and March and compared them with June 2014, prior to the speed limit increase.
The highest increase in any section appears to be 2 mph. But overall, speeds have either remained the same or even decreased since the change.
A new 70 mph speed limit sign waits to be installed in December 2014
The initial data is in line with our expectations. We didn’t anticipate much of a change in traveling speed, considering the vast majority of the traveling public was already traveling 70 mph or above.
“People drive the speeds at which they are comfortable,” UDOT Public Information Officer John Gleason said. “We want to set the appropriate speed limit and have it reflect the speeds at which motorists are actually driving.”
Gleason also added that the intent of the speed limit increase is to create a uniform traffic flow and to minimize some of the speed differentials that can sometimes cause crashes.
While three months is a short window to make any determinations (we typically like to look at trends over several years), this data gives us an initial look at those areas where the speeds were raised.
“UDOT will continue to monitor these sections of urban interstate,” Gleason said. “And while we don’t anticipate any changes, we want to address any potential issues as they happen.”
WASHINGTON – Calling transportation “the critical link between home, school, work, community and commerce,” the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) chose Earth Day 2015 to release a new video that uses UDOT’s “Walking School Bus” as an example of how state DOTs are making communities more livable and transportation systems more sustainable.
“States are applying tremendous creativity and ingenuity to ensure that transportation systems enhance the world in which we live,” said Bud Wright, AASHTO executive director.
UDOT’s “Walking School Bus” – an organized effort in which students walk or bike to and from school together under the supervision of at least one adult – is presented as one of the innovative solutions featured in the new video.
“Researchers found that fewer parents were choosing to have their children walk or bike to school because of safety concerns and other factors,” says UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras in explaining the program in the video, adding that “Utah families and the environment are benefiting because children are healthier, there are fewer green-house gas emissions and bus operating costs have been reduced.”
Other programs featured in the video include bicycle and pedestrian facilities, wildlife protection initiatives and recycling projects.
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) advises drivers to plan ahead for significant traffic restrictions on I-15 in Davis and Utah counties beginning as early as Saturday night. Crews will be demolishing a bridge at 400 North in Bountiful, and completing concrete pavement maintenance in Springville. Additional restrictions are also scheduled to begin on I-80 in Summit County as early as Saturday morning.
The following is a brief description of road construction projects that drivers should be aware of this weekend (all schedules subject to change due to weather or equipment issues):
I-15 in Davis County
I-15 is scheduled to close in both directions on Saturday, April 18, as early as 11 p.m. while crews demolish a bridge at 400 North in Bountiful. The freeway will be closed at the following locations:
Southbound I-15 will be closed between the Legacy Parkway/Park Lane interchange in Farmington and 400 North in Bountiful, and all southbound traffic will be diverted to Legacy Parkway. The southbound I-15 on-ramps at all interchanges in this area will also be closed.
Northbound I-15 will be closed at 400 North (Exit 317) in Bountiful. Northbound traffic will be diverted onto 400 North, then back onto the freeway via 500 West.
The freeway is scheduled to reopen by Sunday, April 19, at 11 a.m. Drivers in both directions are advised to use Legacy Parkway as an alternate route.
View Alternate routes for this weekend, as Interstate 15 will be closed from Farmington to Bountiful.
I-15 in Utah County
Southbound I-15 is scheduled to be reduced to one lane between 1400 North (Exit 261) and 400 South (Exit 260) in Springville on Saturday, April 18, as early as 9 p.m. for concrete pavement maintenance. These restrictions are scheduled to remain in place through Monday, April 20, at 7 a.m., when an additional lane will reopen.
During this time, drivers should plan ahead for severe traffic delays of more than an hour on Sunday, April 19, between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. US-89 through Provo and Springville should be considered as an alternate route. In addition, UDOT recommends that drivers adjust their schedules to avoid travel on southbound I-15 during this time if possible.
Following these lane restrictions, the southbound lanes on I-15 in this area are scheduled to be split into two sections on Monday, April 20, as early as 12 p.m. This lane split is expected to remain in place through Thursday, April 23, at 5 a.m. to allow concrete pavement to cure. Drivers wanting to use exits 261 (1400 North) or 260 (400 South) in Springville will need to stay in the right lanes.
This work is being completed under warranty as part of the I-15 CORE project at no additional cost to taxpayers.
View alternate routes from Provo to Springville, as Interstate 15 will be closed for much of the weekend.
I-15 in Salt Lake County
Southbound I-15 is scheduled to be reduced to four lanes north of the 10600 South interchange beginning as early as Saturday, April 18, at 10 p.m. These restrictions are scheduled to remain in place through Sunday, April 19, at noon while crews complete concrete maintenance. This work is being completed at night to minimize traffic delays.
I-80 in Summit County
I-80 is scheduled to be reduced to one lane in each direction from the U.S. 40 interchange to Wanship as early as Saturday morning, April 18. All traffic will be shifted to the eastbound lanes, and the speed limit will be reduced to 45 miles per hour. In addition, the westbound on- and off-ramps at Exit 150 (Tollgate/Promontory) will both be closed. These restrictions are scheduled to remain in place through fall 2015.
Crews are completing the second phase of a project to reconstruct I-80 in this area with new concrete pavement. Last year, work was completed in the eastbound lanes, and this season crews are reconstructing the westbound lanes.
Construction schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change. For more information about these and other UDOT projects, visit udottraffic.utah.gov or download the UDOT Traffic app, available for iOS or Android devices.
UDOT ran this thought-provoking ad to raise awareness about the danger an unbuckled passenger poses to others. The ad ran on television during Super Bowl XLVIII, and was met with some controversy. Initial social media responses indicated that some viewers were appalled by the hard-hitting commercial, especially with families and young children watching.
After the first 24 hours, the tone on social media had shifted as the majority recognized the ad was meant to spark awareness and conversation. Car crash victims and family members spoke out, applauding Zero Fatalities for talking about seat belt safety.
The campaign was successful because it got people talking, regardless of what side of the argument they were on.
“Twist” reached nearly half a million Utahns aged 18 to 49 who were watching the Super Bowl
Posts about “Twist” on just the Zero Fatalities Facebook page reached 148,032 people and featured 389 likes, 198 shares, 146 total comments
Within 24 hours after the ad aired, there were 1,385 positive comments and only 325 negative comments on all of the local media’s Facebook feeds (81 percent favorable, 19 percent negative)
In a survey conducted three months following the Super Bowl, 72 percent of all respondents said they were influenced by “Twist” to always wear a seat belt
TAMPA, Fla. — The American Traffic Safety Services Association has chosen Jed Boal, reporter and anchor for KSL-TV in Salt Lake City, as the winner of the ATSSA National Media Award. This award goes to “A reporter/news organization, blogger or freelancer who has been fair, balanced, and informative in reporting transportation related issues on radio, television, newspaper and the web”.
KSL-TV’s Jed Boal (left), and UDOT Public Information Officer John Gleason pose with Boal’s plaque.
“There are very few journalists in the entire country that are more fair, balanced, and informative than Jed Boal of KSL-TV,” UDOT Public Information Officer John Gleason said. “Jed is the kind of journalist who turns the stereotype of reporter on it’s head, all while making sure he’s still got the public’s right to know in mind.”
The ATSSA chose KSL-TV’s Jed Boal as its recipient of its 2014 National Media Award.
We’re grateful to work with professionals like Jed Boal in the Utah media. It’s obvious Boal not only loves being a community watchdog, but also cares just as much about letting the public know what amazing things UDOT is doing for the state. This attitude makes it very easy for UDOT to get the word out to the public, knowing Jed will give UDOT a fair shake regardless of whether the story is a positive one or a negative one for the department.
SALT LAKE CITY — In an effort achieve the goal of Zero Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities, the Utah Department of Transportation unveiled a new reminder for state employees last week. The message isn’t new, but the placement is, and people are noticing (and hopefully remembering to buckle up).
Elevators at the State’s Calvin Rampton Complex in Salt Lake now remind employees and visitors to buckle up their seat belts to save their own lives as well as the lives of those riding with them.
“Convincing people to buckle up, not drive impaired, stop texting and stay awake while driving is no easy task,” said Zero Fatalities Program Manager Stacy Johnson. “These elevator doors grab your attention and, in a very creative way, encourage seat belt usage.”
Executive Director Carlos Braceras said while UDOT’s mission and goals touch a variety of topics, one item is more important than any.
“Nothing that we do is more important than safety,” Braceras said recently to employees. “Zero is our number one goal. Zero fatalities. Zero crashes. Zero injuries.”
Ninety-three percent of all crashes are due to driving behavior
National traffic fatalities are the lowest they’ve been since 1958, but people who don’t buckle up represent more than half of those fatalities
Unbuckled passengers can become a projectile, and increase the risk of hurting or killing others in the car by 40 percent
People are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash
75 percent of people who are ejected during a crash die from their injuries
While road engineering and law enforcement help to decrease fatalities, education is an important part of the road to Zero Fatalities as well. The education comes in a number of ways:
School Assemblies and Events: With programs like Zero Fatalities, Don’t Drive Stupid, and Click it or Ticket targeting soon-to-be-drivers and their parents, over 500,000 people have been reached in the first five years. In 2014 alone, Zero Fatalities did approximately 214 presentations to schools around the Beehive State.
Commercial Public Service Announcements such as this one, which was originally shown during the 2014 Super Bowl.
Results: The number of traffic fatalities in Utah has dropped 22 percent since the Zero Fatalities program began in 2006. In the year 2000, Utah had 373 fatalities, but by the end of 2013, Utah had 221 fatalities. And awareness of the program is rising: public opinion research shows that 3 out of 4 Utahns (age 18 to 54) are aware of the Zero Fatalities message. Of course, awareness does not always translate to behavior modification, but of those who are aware of the Zero Fatalities message, an average of 51 percent admit that the Zero Fatalities program “definitely” or “probably” influenced them to avoid the five Zero Fatalities behaviors: driving drowsy, distracted, aggressive, impaired, or unbuckled.
Zero Fatalities program has also become a model for other states: Arizona, Iowa and Nevada have embraced the Zero Fatalities message and are running similar programs at varying levels. We’re happy that Utah’s Zero Fatalities program is the state’s contribution to the national and international visions to reduce traffic fatalities, and we wanted to make sure the message started at home as well.