Category Archives: Zero Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities

New data indicates no significant speed increases on urban interstates

SALT LAKE CITY — According to new data from the Utah Department of Transportation, average speeds on urban interstates along the Wasatch Front have stayed consistent, despite moving the speed limit from 65 to 70 in December 2014.

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.

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.”

You can look at the data yourself on our .pdf

Speed_Study_Difference Map

UDOT’s “Walking School Bus” app recognized for environmental leadership, innovation

 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.

You can watch the video on AASHTO’s Center for Environmental Excellence page, and view an interactive infographic on the UDOT SNAP page.

Major Delays Expected on I-15 this Weekend in Davis, Utah Counties

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.

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.

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.

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Vote UDOT for a National Social Media Award

UDOT has been nominated in three categories for the Golden Post Awards, and we need your help voting online here!

Final nominees for the Golden Post Awards — the first awards program for state and local government social media efforts in the U.S. — will be chosen based on the public’s votes, comments, and a review of the Government Social Media Conference Awards team. UDOT is nominated for “Best Social Media Campaign”, “Social Media for Citizen Engagement” and “Outstanding Social Media Results”.  All three nominations are for the department’s “Twist” ad, which debuted during Super Bowl XLVIII in February 2014.

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

Show your support for seat belts and the Zero Fatalities educational ad by voting at http://conference.governmentsocialmedia.com/golden-post-awards/voting/. The deadline to vote is Friday, March 6 (by midnight PST) and finalists will be named March 12. Winners will be announced on April 30 at #GSMCON.

Be sure to check out all 9 categories, as there are other Utah government accounts competing as well!

Local Utah reporter wins top transportation journalist award

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.

KSL-TV’s Jed Boal (left), and UDOT Public Information Officer John Gleason pose with Boal’s plaque.

Boal, who has worked for Utah’s NBC station for 16 years, has the tenacity and skepticism that a good reporter needs to “dig deep” and combines that with a skillful blend of transparency, relationship building, and storytelling. He’s always looking at new ways to tell a story and inform the public — whether it’s riding along with an Incident Management Team, purposely depriving himself of sleep to conduct a study for a story, or pulling out rumble strips to help the public see what they do.

“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.”

ATSSAaward

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.

 

 

An elevator message that saves lives

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.
ZeroElevator
“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.”

Zero Fatalities’ seat belt statistics are eye-opening:

  • 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.

ZeroPresentation1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commercial Public Service Announcements such as this one, which was originally shown during the 2014 Super Bowl.

Advertising: Using a variety of messaging,  like radio spots or posters, Zero Fatalities keeps messages about life-saving habits are always on the minds of people in Utah.

Social Media videos, Facebook posts, and tweets make it easier to share the message with more people daily.

 

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.

ZeroJazzDraft1

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.

To learn more about the program, or to schedule a member of the Zero Fatalities Team to come and present to your division or group,  visit www.udot.utah.gov, or www.zerofatalities.com.

Highlights from the 2014 Annual Efficiencies Report

Efficiencies within UDOT often generate cost savings for the public and the Department through better utilization of resources and innovative technologies. At the end of each year, UDOT prepares an efficiencies report which summarizes key efficiency initiatives from the year. The annual report fulfills a requirement for UDOT to describe the efficiencies and significant accomplishments achieved during the past year to the State Legislature. UDOT Senior Leaders use the report in presentations during legislative committee meetings.

Following are the key efficiency initiatives summarized in the FY 2014 report:

  • SUCCESS Framework Initiative
    • Statewide Access Management Program
    • Preconstruction Project Scoping
    • Ports of Entry Truck Processing
    • Snow and Ice Control
    • Procurement System
    • Heavy Duty Truck Maintenance
  • Report Auto Generator for Roadway “As-Builts”
  • Uinta Basin Rail
  • Outdoor Advertising Control Map
  • Automated Queue Warning Detection System
  • Cement-Treated Asphalt Base
  • Citizen Reporter Program
  • Real-Time Winter Road Weather Index Performance Measurement
  • Variable Speed Limit in Parley’s Canyon
  • Snow Fencing Efficiencies

One example from the 2014 report is the SUCCESS Framework Initiative, a set of management principles from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, designed to boost the quality and efficiency of government services, with the goal of improving government operations and services by 25% by the end of 2016. One of the six major systems that UDOT is focusing on for the SUCCESS Framework is the Statewide Access Management Program. With a lot of hard work and collaboration, the Access Management Team reduced the time and labor cost required for processing access permit applications. As a result, the per-permit processing cost was lowered from $1,709 to $1,532 ($177 per permit), providing approximately $42,000 in annual cost savings to UDOT.

Citizen Report ScreenshotAnother example from 2014 is the Citizen Reporter Program, which enlists trained volunteers to report on road weather conditions along specific roadway segments across Utah. This citizen crowd-sourcing contributes to the quantity, quality and timeliness of traveler information, especially in rural areas. As a result, UDOT saves approximately $250,000 annually from the reduced need for road weather instrumentation, and from efficiencies in storm forecasting.

The UDOT Research Division coordinates each year with UDOT Senior Leaders and the Communications Office to collect and compile write-ups on the past year’s key efficiency initiatives. We appreciate all of the UDOT Regions and Groups that submitted FY 2014 efficiencies topics and write-ups on the key items. This process will start again in August for FY 2015.

The 2014 and earlier annual reports are available online at www.udot.utah.gov/go/efficiencies.

This post was originally published in the UDOT Research Newsletter.

Raising Bangerter

Map of the temporary road

Crews have opened a new, temporary road that will move the majority of traffic out of the work zone and away from construction activities.

As part of a proactive effort to address immediate and long-term traffic needs, we are currently constructing improvements at Bangerter Highway and Redwood Road. This $42 million project includes a grade-separated single point urban interchange (SPUI) similar to the interchange of 7800 South and Bangerter Highway.

“We’re excited for the arrival of an interchange in this location,” said UDOT Region Two District Engineer Troy Peterson. “The communities located in the south valley of Salt Lake County continue to grow at an accelerated pace and these improvements are part of a long-range plan to accommodate immediate and future traffic demands. We will also increase mobility and improve safety for those commuting through the area by reducing conflict points.”

Schedule – Since the project received funding in September 2013, we have operated on an accelerated time table. The environmental study was conducted in fall 2013, Wadsworth Brothers Construction was selected as the contractor in April 2014 and construction began shortly after in June. The project will be complete in spring 2015.

The aggressive schedule has become the cornerstone for the project and has fostered an innovative approach. Bangerter Highway and Redwood Road are vital commuter routes and serve a large residential population with an emerging commercial area.

According to Resident Engineer Marwan Farah, “We have many stakeholder groups who will be impacted by construction activities and because of this we placed a high value on building the new freeway-style interchange as efficiently as possible. The project has many challenges to overcome, but we are finding ways to stick to our goals and meet milestones within the allotted timeframe.”

Innovation – In order to complete construction by spring 2015, innovative steps are being implemented. Perhaps the most unique approach is the introduction of a new, temporary road located at 13920 South (also known as Market View Drive) about a half block south of the Bangerter Highway and Redwood Road intersection. 13920 South was an access road to The Bluffs Apartments, which has been expanded to provide a direct east-west connection between Bangerter Highway and Redwood Road. During construction, many of the intersection’s turn movements have been relocated to the new, temporary road and Bangerter Highway’s through traffic has been shifted to the outside lanes. This allows the contractor to build the grade-separated overpass and accompanying tie-ins quicker because the majority of traffic is removed from the work zone.

As part of the new, temporary road, a temporary continuous flow intersection (CFI) has been constructed on Bangerter Highway, which will be in place until project completion. The temporary CFI has a traffic signal and dedicated turn lanes at Bangerter Highway, which provide direct access to the temporary road.

Another innovation that was implemented is the introduction of the Lump Sum Relocation Program, which allowed for residents of properties being purchased for the project to receive relocation monetary benefits in one payment. This program for Right-of-Way relocation was piloted on Bangerter Highway and Redwood Road to determine if it would assist in expediting the project’s relocation needs and overall schedule.

“We have been very happy with the Lump Sum Relocation Program on this project. Overall, it was productive, efficient, lowered costs and saved time,” said Farah.

Public Involvement – Even with innovation like the temporary road, not all impacts can be eliminated through construction. The project team is committed to completing the project with as little inconvenience to the public as possible. We have a robust public involvement approach to connect with drivers and stakeholders impacted by the project. Outreach efforts have included public meetings, mailer and flier distribution, media coverage, city presentations, in-person meetings and a dedicated project website, email and hotline. Our public involvement team has worked closely with the project team and contractor to understand the needs and benefits of the project and how best to communicate them to the public.

Both Bluffdale and Riverton cities have expressed deep appreciation for the planned improvements and the contribution it will make to their communities. They see this as a major step to continued development in the area. According to Riverton City Mayor Bill Applegarth, “This project is a significant improvement that will help increase efficiency and ease of travel for our growing population and people who commute through the southwest valley. UDOT’s preparation and communication regarding this project, as well as many others, has been extremely helpful.”

This guest post was originally published in the Region Two Fall 2014 Newsletter.

UDOT app wins award for digital pioneering

SALT LAKE CITY — The pioneering sprit has always been in Utah’s blood. From the Winchester rifle, Word Perfect and wider Pioneer Streets, to the Roadometer and Television, Utah has always tried to be at the forefront of technology.

In the digital age, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has continued as a technological pioneer, especially in the field of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). It was recently awarded a “Best of ITS” award by the ITS World Congress this fall for its Citizen Reporter app, which was piloted during the 2012-2013 winter season.

Citizen Report Screenshot

A screenshot of the Citizen Report app

The app, which is the first of its kind in the United States, is aimed at Keeping Utah Moving, specifically during winter months. It allows citizen volunteers to report on road weather conditions along specific roadways across the Beehive State, after a short training session. These reports give enhanced road weather information to travelers when the stakes are the highest — during inclement weather. 

In large, sparsely populated states like Utah, state DOTs have trouble providing up-to-the-minute accuracy on road conditions to travelers. It’s especially tough in Utah, where nearly 1,000 cameras statewide still can’t see every inch of roadway. But that’s where crowd sourcing from citizen reporters comes in, providing more accurate and timely information to the traveling public on conditions around the state.

Lisa Miller, UDOT’s Traveler Information Manager, said the program was extremely successful, with over 1100 reports last year from approximately 500 reporters. She predicts four times the usage of the app this coming year.

“Our early concern was that the data might not be reliable,” Miller said. “But what we’ve found is that the incoming data is 99% accurate.”

Other states, such as Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota have requested information from UDOT to create similar programs in those states. The success of the program has spurred the department to produce another app, called Click N Fix, which allows the public to report potholes, burnt out highway lights, and other safety issues. The app will be more widely available to the public in early 2015.

The 2014 ITS World Congress

UDOT was awarded a “Best of ITS” award for “Best New Innovative Practice” in September.

“Crowd-sourcing is emerging as an effective means to both engage and serve the public, Miller said. “The public can now make more informed travel decisions, which impacts everything: safety, mobility, and the economy.”

To become a Citizen Reporter:

In order to become a UDOT Citizen Reporter, you will need to complete a brief training (either online or in person), take a short quiz and complete a sign-up form. The training takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Once a volunteer has completed these steps, they will be provided with a login and PIN, and can begin submitting reports. Reports are submitted through the UDOT Citizen Reporting app, downloadable for Android and Apple devices from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

If you would like to become a Citizen Reporter, please follow this link to take the online training: www.udottraffic.utah.gov/training/citizenreporter. For more information or to schedule an in person training, email UDOTCitizenReporter@utah.gov.

You can download the Citizen Reports app for your iPhone or Android device.

 

Innovative partnerships prove to be the perfect recipe for Patchwork Parkway

PANGUITCH — In a state where innovation is consistently used to Keep Utah Moving, sometimes innovation alone isn’t enough. Unique partnerships between state agencies can be the perfect additional ingredient to accomplish the improbable.

In rural southern Utah, where equipment and manpower are sometimes as few and far between as the towns in the region, innovation and partnering got a much-needed job done quickly and efficiently, while minimizing the use of taxpayer dollars.

Recently, UDOT’s shed 4469 in Panguitch teamed up with Bryce Canyon National Park to create a shoulder on a seven-mile stretch of Scenic Byway SR-143. This stretch of Utah’s “Patchwork Parkway” was in great need of a shoulder, because a simple task like plowing the road or pulling over created potential safety issues.

The project required tools neither the department nor the national park possessed alone. So to combat this issue, they came together to pool resources and manpower to finish the job in a few days, saving each agency valuable time and money.

“The stars just lined up,” said Panguitch Shed manager Robert Brown. “Down here, we’re all neighbors, and you have to get creative to help each other out and get things done.”

Normally, a similar project requires a team of at least six to eight workers, with three on a shouldering machine alone. But with only two full-time employees at the shed, Brown and his counterpart at Bryce Canyon had to think outside of the box. Here are some of the highlights:

• Bryce Canyon provided side delivery dump trucks that offered a more efficient use of asphalt. Standard machines provide four feet of material, even if only two feet are needed.
• UDOT’s grader was used to accomplish both the grading and compaction tasks, as the shoulder in the area is too steep to use conventional steel drum rollers.
• The asphalt used on the project was recycled and obtained from a pit in nearby Hatch, Utah at nearly one-third of the cost of new asphalt.
• The project was completed in two days, with two UDOT Panguitch Shed employees and two Bryce Canyon employees.
• A pull-behind broom hooked to a pickup truck cleaned the road with two passes.

For Brown, the lesson is simple: when government entities work and plan together, the result can be a win-win for both, as well as the surrounding communities.

“Without the shared resources, we wouldn’t have been able to do the job,” Brown said. “I think this shows that governments need to think outside of the box more to collaborate.”