Tag Archives: pedestrian safety

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: UDOT to Launch New Technology Making Crosswalks Safer for Students, Crossing Guards

UDOT to Launch New Technology Making Crosswalks Safer for Students, Crossing Guards

UDOT first in the nation to arm local school crossing guards with tool to enable longer “walk” time during peak hours

 

WHAT:

Media availability where the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) will unveil a new technology that allows school crossing guards to add extra “walk” time on a crosswalk signal during peak periods. This increases safety by allowing students more time to get across the busy street.

Crossing guards can add an extra 10-15 seconds of “walk time” by using a newly engineered key on signal boxes that not only increases safety but also allows traffic to continue moving smoothly and efficiently throughout the day.

UDOT’s Traffic Operations Center is the first in the nation to develop this technology.

 

WHEN:
Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 7:45 a.m.

 

WHERE:
Crosswalk at 2200 West 9000 South in West Jordan near Hawthorn Academy and West Vale Elementary

 

WHO:
UDOT School and Pedestrian Safety Program Manager Cherissa Olson

Crossing guards

 

VISUALS:

– Crossing guards activating signal boxes to add extra walk time

– Crossing guards guiding children safely through crosswalk to school

 

 

Media Contact:
John Gleason
Public Information Office
jgleason@utah.gov
Cell: 801-560-7740

Gov Herbert says updated Walking School Bus app is a SNAP

On Thursday morning, August 13, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert put on his sneakers and joined UDOT’s Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP) to walk to school with a group of Sugarhouse families. The short stroll was part of UDOT SNAP’s kick-off to celebrate the new-and-improved Walking School Bus mobile app.

While accompanying the students to school, Gov. Herbert praised UDOT SNAP for creating the free, forward-thinking app, which empowers parents to allow their children to walk and bike to school.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert walks with school children in Sugarhouse to celebrate the new "Walking School Bus" app

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert walks with school children in Sugarhouse to celebrate the new “Walking School Bus” app

“Walking and biking to school makes our neighborhoods safer, our air cleaner and our children healthier. It also helps to build a greater sense of community,” Gov. Herbert said. “I encourage all parents who live within walking distance of school to download the free UDOT Walking School Bus App, join or organize a walking group and start the school year off right by making walking and biking to and from school a habit.”

During the walk, Gov. Herbert also encouraged the young students to continue their studies.

Parents were interested to learn that the updated Walking School Bus app now included easy tutorials, a way to invite their friends via text and social media, and that the app appears to be more navigable. They also remarked on how important the safety features on the app are to them.

Kids like the app, too.

“I feel safe, and I like walking with my friends,” nine-year-old Alex Beasley said. “And it also saves gas because you’re not using your cars.

UDOT developed and launched the free app in August 2014 to help make walking and biking to school safer and easier. With the app, parents can create and join walking groups, send messages within the app to coordinate walks, and even notify other parents when students have arrived at school. In its first year, more than 500 walking school bus groups were created across the state, and parents and students using the app reduced 91,000 car trips and 37 million grams of CO2 emissions, walked 88,000 miles and burned 8.8 million calories.

The free Walking School Bus App is available for download for iPhone and Android devices. For more information, visit http://www.udot.utah.gov/walkingschoolbus.

MEDIA STORIES ON THIS EVENT:

Gov. Herbert backs UDOT’s ‘Walking School Bus’ AppABC News 4 Utah

UDOT aims to reduce pollution, increase child safety and exercise with ‘Walking School Bus’ appFox 13 News

Herbert, students trade wheels for sneakers on ‘walking school bus’ Deseret News

Reserve family gets walking with Utah governor – Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

UDOT Walking School Bus app aims to improve safety KSL5 News

Guv encourages Utah parents to ditch the school carpools in favor of walkingThe Salt Lake Tribune

Governor says kids should ditch carpools and walk to schoolThe Daily Herald

 

 

 

 

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.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety at Intersection: Phase 2

Different Modes = Different Experiences

While the transportation network is meant to accommodate a variety of transportation modes, the experience varies for users of each mode. Cyclists and pedestrians face a greater risk of injury or death when involved in a crash as compared to drivers/passengers of motor vehicles. Crashes involving active travel modes are most likely to occur at an intersection, therefore it is imperative to understand what characteristics make any given intersection safer or more dangerous.

Map of Davis count with red and green dots

Davis County study results: high-risk = red, low-risk = green

Expanding the Geographic Scope

The goal of this research was to build upon the findings from a pilot study of Salt Lake County (2012) to examine which characteristics of the built-environment, roadways, and signal programming have the biggest impact on safety and crash rates for active travelers. This phase of data collection examined intersections in Weber, Davis, and Utah Counties.

Collecting the Data

Using data from the Utah Office of Highway Safety and UDOT, crashes involving at least one pedestrian or cyclists were highlighted within the study area. Intersections with the highest numbers of incidents were then further evaluated on 83 distinct criteria. Intersections with very low crash rates were also evaluated and included in the analysis for comparison.

What Makes an Intersection Dangerous?

The analysis found that incorporating longer signal lengths, reducing the presence of left turn arrows, and limiting non-residential driveways within 100 meters of intersections can significantly reduce the number of non-motorized accidents. Additionally, road construction at intersections was shown to significantly increase the number of non-motorized incidents; particularly those involving cyclists.

Graphic of car turning left into the path of straight traveling bicyclist

Left Turn Parallel Path Problem

System Improvements Benefit All Users

Addressing these issues and enacting appropriate improvements will not only improve safety conditions for non-motorized users, but will likely also provide an enhanced travel experience for automobile travelers and result in additional external benefits of traffic calming and improved flow.

Next Steps…

A follow-up to this research is currently underway, and will examine intersection safety off the Wasatch Front in Cache, Tooele, and Washington Counties, as well as in Moab City.

This guest post was written by Shaunna K. Burbidge, Ph.D., Active Planning and Jason Richins, S.E., UDOT Research Project Manager and was originally published in the Research Newsletter.

Optimizing Mobility

As we continually look for ways to improve our processes with the ultimate goal of keeping drivers moving on Utah’s roads, UDOT has deployed a number of technological tools that align with our strategic direction to preserve infrastructure, optimize mobility, reach our goal of zero fatalities, and strengthen the economy. I wanted to particularly emphasize what we are currently doing as a department in regards to our goal of optimizing mobility, which, in our day and age, no longer only applies to people’s ability to keep moving but also to their ability to do things as they are moving (but not driving), via phone apps.

These UDOT phone apps are allowing citizens to perform a variety of tasks, like reporting road conditions directly to operators at the Traffic Operations Center (TOC), or finding out what kind of delays to expect due to construction projects, and receiving severe weather event warnings. In addition to this ever evolving field of mobile technology, we continue to rely on innovative projects based on traffic models and engineering to not only improve mobility, but also safety, which in turn helps us achieve our goal of Zero Fatalities. Last year, Region Two completed several projects that illustrate exactly how we continue to optimize mobility through road and signal technologies.

MOBILE TECHNOLOGY

UDOT Traffic

Screen shot of UDOT Traffic app
UDOT Traffic is the department’s portal for statewide traffic information and can be accessed through the UDOT Traffic website or via mobile application for iOS or Android devices. Citizens can use the site to view real-time traffic conditions, construction and emergency alerts, road weather forecasts, and current lane and ramp closures. New to the UDOT Traffic app is a map layer that displays designated bike routes across the state, and state roads with shoulders wider than four feet. The map also displays routes that are restricted to bicycles such as I-15 in the Salt Lake Valley.

UDOT continually upgrades the UDOT Traffic portal to make it even more useful for drivers and the public. This year, the Lane Closure tool will be used for all projects on interstates as well as major highways including Bangerter Highway, Legacy Parkway, S.R. 201, and U.S. 40.

Future updates will improve integration between construction projects and the Lane Closure tool, and will allow contractors and department employees to make changes to UDOT Traffic information using mobile devices.

Citizen Reporter

Screen shots of the citizen reporting app
UDOT Citizen Reporter is a mobile application that enlists volunteers to report on current weather conditions for specific roads across Utah. This app is designed to provide both TOC operators and travelers with more accurate and timely road, weather and travel impact information and forecasts.

To participate as citizen reporters, members of the public are required to take a short course (either online or in person), complete a quiz, and then submit a sign-up form. Once those steps are completed, the volunteer receives a login and password, and can then download the app and begin submitting reports.

Citizen reporters are able to confirm weather data received through other sources (Road Weather Information Systems, meteorological forecasts, etc.) and can provide data for roadways where RWIS systems or other information sources may not be available.

ROAD & SIGNAL TECHNOLOGY

Variable Speed Limit

Photo of Variable Speed Limit sign with a semi passing by on I-80 in Parley's Canyon

Variable Speed Limit sign on I-80 in Parley’s Canyon

In January 2014, 15 new variable speed limit (VSL) signs were activated along I-80 in Parleys Canyon. The new signs are controlled by the TOC to help maintain consistent traffic flows and assist drivers in adjusting speeds when necessary due to weather conditions.

The TOC monitors speed limits in the canyon. In the event of poor weather or low visibility, a traffic engineer reviews information, such as current road conditions, weather forecasts, snowfall rates, observed speeds, and reports from maintenance personnel. Based on this information, the engineer can make the decision to reduce the speed limit as needed. Speed limits typically range from 35 to 65 miles per hour depending on conditions.

The new VSL signs are the first of their kind in Utah. UDOT is also considering installing variable speed limit signs in other locations around the state, such as Provo Canyon and Sardine Canyon, based on the results of this project.

Bike Detection

Photo of open signal cabinet
Last year, Region Two and the TOC worked together to develop and install reliable bicycle detection at nine signalized intersections in Salt Lake City, along with new pavement markings to show bicyclists where to stop. Often, bicyclists stop at red lights, look to see if they feel it is safe to cross, and then proceed through the intersection without waiting for a green signal; these upgraded intersections help encourage cyclists to obey traffic signals.

Additionally, upgrading bicycle detection systems encourages cycling as a viable means of transportation. This helps improve air quality by reducing automobile emissions, and is an asset for local economic development since many companies have reported that Utah’s alternative transportation options (such as bicycling and mass transit) were a significant factor in their decision to come to the state.

Moving forward, the department is working with the bicycling community to identify additional high-priority intersections where this detection technology can be installed.

HAWK Crossings

Photo of HAWK signal with traffic flowing underneath

HAWK

HAWK (High Intensity Activated CrosswalK) crossings have been installed in a number of locations in Region Two where arterial streets intersect with minor streets. These crossings include pavement markings, signs, and red and yellow lights on an arm over the roadway.

When a pedestrian pushes the button to activate the signal, the lights over the roadway begin flashing yellow, alerting drivers to slow down. A solid red light then activates, along with a “walk” sign for the pedestrian. Once the “walk” phase is complete, the light flashes red, indicating to drivers to treat the intersection as a stop sign – they may proceed if the crosswalk is clear. When the lights are off, drivers are not required to stop at the crosswalk.

These signals are in use at several locations throughout the Region where large numbers of pedestrians cross major roadways. UDOT continues to evaluate other locations for these signals and will install them as needed.

SNAP, Walk ‘N Roll

Grapic showing three school kids and the SNAP Walk 'N Roll slogan Since 2009, the UDOT SNAP team has been teaching Utah students the importance of safe walking and biking practices. To encourage more students to walk and bike to school, the SNAP, Walk ‘N Roll assembly was created. Featuring professional performers and catchy, upbeat songs, the SNAP, Walk ‘N Roll assembly is a highly-sought after coveted production that covers what to do in construction zones and how regular exercise can improve a student’s focus and health.

With the new school year comes another round of SNAP, Walk ‘N Roll assembly performances. This year SNAP was pleased to bring the assembly to 30 schools across the state. To date, more than 100,000 Utah students have seen the SNAP, Walk ‘N Roll assembly.

Photo of SNAP Walk 'N Roll AssemblyThe SNAP assembly is available to elementary schools in the Alpine, Canyons, Davis, Granite, Jordan, Murray, Nebo, Ogden, Provo, Salt Lake and Weber school districts. Elementary schools outside of the listed districts can request a free SNAP, Walk ‘N Roll DVD, that features the entire assembly performed on a professional sound stage.

The music from the SNAP assembly is available for free on the UDOT SNAP website.

To see more pictures and learn about the SNAP performers, visit the SNAP Facebook page.

This guest post was written by Cherissa Wood UDOT’s School and Pedestrian Safety Program Manager.

SNAP 2013 Walk More in Four Challenge

Photo of Director Carlos Braceras addressing kids at Dilworth ElementaryThe Student Neighborhood Access Program, or SNAP, is committed to promoting safe walking and biking habits for Utah’s elementary and middle school age children. Every year, SNAP holds a competition that encourages Utah students to walk and bike to school instead of being dropped off by a parent.

The fifth annual Walk More in Four challenge, held every September, was once again successful in encouraging Utah students to walk and bike safety to school. The WMIF challenge awarded 600 prizes to students all across the state who walked or biked at least three days a week during the four weeks of September. Prizes included bikes, scooters, helmets and more.

At this year’s WMIF kickoff event at Dilworth Elementary in Salt Lake City, UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras spoke to students, parents and teachers about the importance of safe walking and biking practices.

Photo of students signing walk more in four pledge sheetNew to the challenge this year were online progress charts. Students and parents could log on to the WMIF website and track their walking and biking progress. The online progress charts allowed SNAP to collect more accurate information about the students who participated, as well as provided a paper-free way to turn in charts. More than 45 percent of students who participated in this year’s challenge took advantage of the online progress chart and SNAP hopes to see even more use the online charts next year.

This year the WMIF challenge had a record 160 schools participate in the challenge, and a record $8,500 was collected in donations from Walmart locations across the state.

And check out these lucky winners.

Photo of Daisey Allen staning on the seat of her bike wearing her helmet

Daisey Allen, a student at Kanab Elementary in Kanab, Utah, showing off her new bike and helmet.

Photo of student winners with their prizes.

UDOT School and Pedestrian Safety Program Manager Cherissa Wood poses for a picture with scooter winner Arianna Kerr and bike winner Holden Anderson at Middle Canyon Elementary School in Tooele, Utah.

Photo of student standing next to his prize.

Bates Elementary kindergarten student Brock Berry smiles with his scooter and helmet in his classroom.

This guest post was written by UDOT School and Pedestrian Safety Program Manager Cherissa Wood.

2013 Strategic Direction — Part 3

This is the third part of a 4 part series about the 2013 Strategic Direction. Please also check out Part 1: Preserve Infrastructure,  Part 2: Optimize Mobility and Part 4: Strengthen the Economy.

Zero Fatalities

UDOT remains committed to safety. This new goal replaces the previous goal of “Improving Safety” emphasizing UDOT’s commitment to reducing fatalities. Some may believe that zero is unattainable, however to those who’ve lost family members on Utah roads one fatality is one too many. Zero Fatalities is the only goal acceptable to Utahns and to UDOT.

In 2012, 218 lives were lost on Utah’s roads in car crashes–the lowest Utah traffic fatalities have been since 1959. We are making progress toward our goal of Zero Fatalities, but we still have a ways to go.

Every UDOT project incorporates safety improvements. In 2012, UDOT programmed $19.2 million for specific safety projects, including:

  • 42 miles of median cable barrier installed, for a total of 231 miles since 2003
  • Approximately $17 million of Safety Program funds were assigned to specific safety projects in 2012
  • 12 new traffic signals constructed
  • 24 traffic signal upgrades constructed
  • 11 pedestrian/school crossing improvements
  • Construction of 20 safe sidewalk projects
  • Installation of 540 sidewalk access ramps

In UDOT, the focus on safety within engineering begins with planning, designing and building safe roadways. Engineering for safety is UDOT’s commitment to a safe-system approach. The main principle of a safe-system approach is the roadway is designed and built to realistically prevent traffic related deaths even when driving behaviors create crashes.

Education is also important roadway safety. Utah demonstrates its commitment to safety through outreach efforts that help educate the public and make Utah a safe place for living, traveling and doing business. These education programs include:

Since 2009, UDOT safety programs have:

  • Totalled more than 135 presentations to elementary schools
  • Reached more than 100,000 students statewide

UDOT’s Incident Management Program began in 1994 as part of UDOT’s on-going commitment to safety on Utah’s roads. From the beginning, the program has provided significant benefit by increasing first responder safety, reducing congestion and delays and reducing secondary crashes.

Snow and ice removal is a major component to safe driving in Utah. To clear snow from approximately 6,000 centerline miles of Utah’s roads, UDOT employs the latest technologies and trains crews to ensure they are ready.

  • On average, Utah receives more than 25 winter storms each year and UDOT crews remove more than 65 million tons of snow and ice from Utah’s roads.
  • To help keep our roads clear around the clock, UDOT operates a fleet of approximately 500 snowplows.
  • UDOT’s winter operations budget for the 2012-2013 winter season is $23.3 million, including equipment, salaries, sand, salt, brine and avalanche control.

UDOT LIFESAVER GETS A SWEET AWARD

Robert Hull has Zero tolerance for traffic fatalities.

As UDOT’s Engineer for Traffic and Safety, Hull has spearheaded many ambitious and successful programs to improve roadway safety in Utah. For working hard to save lives, the American Association of State Highway Officials has given Hull its top honor: the Alfred E. Johnson Achievement Award.

Robert Hull stands in front of the plaque given to him for winning the Alfred E. Johnson Achievement Award

The recognition is intended for middle management leaders who make an “outstanding contribution to his/her department in engineering or management.”

Brent Wilhite with Penna Powers Brian Haynes has worked closely with Hull. “Robert is skilled at getting other people to catch his vision of creating a culture of safety, ” says Wilhite.

“His efforts to promote traffic safety have set Utah as the model for other states. Members of AASHTO, FHWA and individual states have sought his counsel and guidance in their safety programs. Utah drivers are fortunate to have Robert as UDOT’s Engineer for Traffic Safety.”

Buckle-up for safety

Chief among those efforts is the Zero Fatalities public information campaign that aims to eliminate the five top behaviors that kill people on Utah roads: drowsy distracted, aggressive and impaired driving and not buckling up.

Media coverage has helped increase public awareness of safety issues

Zero unites the efforts of law enforcement, safety educators, engineers and emergency responders and has received numerous local and national awards.

A team approach

Hull also formed the Safety Leadership Team with leaders from UDOT, Utah Department of Public Safety’s Highway Safety Office, Federal Highways Administration, Utah Highway Patrol and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

In 2004, these cross agency experts joined forces to develop Utah’s Comprehensive Safety Plan before such a plan was even required. The massive effort caught the attention of FHWA and led to Utah’s designation as a model state.

Safety for kids is the focus of SNAP

Safe routes for kids

SNAP is UDOT’s effort to coordinate safe routes to school for elementary and junior high students. Hull pioneered development of software that uses Google Maps to take inventory of features like sidewalks, traffic signs, and roads to determine the safest route to walk to school. Over 300 Utah schools have participated in the SNAP program, and 64 percent of schools use the software.

Spend and save

Knowing that Federally funded Highway Safety Improvement Program monies save lives when well spent, under Hull’s direction, those improvements, like cable barrier or rumble strips, are programmed as quickly and as systematically as possible.

And, Hull makes sure every safety project is evaluated using an evidence based approach to get the most benefit for each precious taxpayer dollar. UDOT’s focus on efficient project delivery ensures traffic safety funding results in projects that help reduce fatalities.

Congratulations to UDOT’s safety guru, Robert Hull!

DO THE LOCOMOTION

UDOT’s brand new rest stop echoes Tucker’s railroad past.

Dave Babcock, Fleet Manager in UDOT Region 4’s Price Office wrote this article about UDOT’s newest rest area.

A railroad servicing area in the town of Tucker, Utah. This photo shows a coal bunker and stored coal, left, and a water tank, right. Click on the photo to enlarge. (Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.)

The Utah Department of Transportation has constructed a new Safety Rest Area and Visitor Center on US-6 at Milepost 202, at a location known as Tie Fork.  The new facility was a concept and design to pay tribute to the town of Tucker and also to the history of the railroad heritage from the Soldier Summit and Helper areas.

The town of Tucker, Utah, which was 2 miles south of Tie Fork, existed from the early 1900’s to about 1915, and was in it’s prime in about 1910, when over 200 residents called Tucker home.  Tucker was built because of a railroad spur toPleasant Valley.  The narrow gauge rail went directly south from Tucker and served the coal mines in the Scofield and Pleasant Valley areas.

Tucker Rest area (Milepost 204) was built in 1969 and served travelers for 40 years.      In 2009, the Tucker Rest area was removed to allow a highway safety project to be constructed.  At that time, the Tie Fork site was selected for the new rest area.

The UDOT concept team felt it was important to build the restroom and visitor center to resemble a train depot of the early 1900’s.  They also felt that a locomotive roundhouse look would be appropriate for the information kiosks and picnic table area.  Once this design was accepted, the idea of placing a locomotive on site was suggested. After exploring different possibilities, Original Creations was hired to build a replica of a 1900’s steam locomotive, which is proudly displayed on site.

Tie Fork Rest Area under construction -- the design of the building resembles a a locomotive roundhouse

Tie Fork will serve the travelers of US-6 for many years to come.  It will give them an opportunity to safely rest for 10 or 15  minutes, making the US-6 highway corridor a safer place for all.