Author: John Gleason

100 Deadliest Days Recap

Red and black logo that says Zero Fatalities A Goal We Can All Live WithLabor Day weekend marked the close of what has been dubbed the 100 Deadliest Days on Utah roads. Traditionally, traffic fatalities increase significantly during the summer months compared to the rest of the year, and unfortunately this year was no different. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, 96 people lost their lives on Utah roads – nearly a fatality a day. That’s up from 91 during the same period last year.

Each of these numbers represents a person whose life was cut tragically short, and a family who is experiencing unimaginable grief. The lives of so many people will never be the same.

As of September 2nd, 168 people have died on our roads in 2014, up 20 from the same time last year – more than a 13 percent increase. Our goal is Zero Fatalities, and it’s concerning anytime that number moves in the wrong direction.

Now it’s important to put these numbers in perspective. From 2000 to 2012, we reduced traffic fatalities on Utah roads by 41 percent – and in 2012, we hit a 50-year record low. We have made great strides in terms of engineering of roads and vehicles, greater enforcement and driver education – but more can always be done.

The Zero Fatalities program focuses considerable effort on school outreach and teaching young student drivers to become great drivers from the start – and to avoid the five behaviors that contribute to nearly all of the fatal crashes in our state: Aggressive Driving, Drowsy Driving, Distracted Driving, Impaired Driving… and the number one factor killing people on Utah roads – Not Buckling Up.

In 2013, nearly half of the traffic fatalities (excluding pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists) were a result of people not buckling up. Of the crash investigation reports we’ve received so far this year, at least 45 people have died in 2014 because they were not wearing their seat belts.

Wearing a seat belt is not just a personal decision; it affects everyone else in the vehicle and other people on the road. In a crash, an unbuckled passenger may become a projectile and increase the risk of injury or death to the other vehicle occupants by 40 percent. Wearing a seat belt also helps the driver stay in the driver’s seat to maintain control of the vehicle.

Buckling up is the simplest action you can take to prevent injury and save your life in a crash – and it’s essential that we all make this commitment to help reach our goal of Zero Fatalities on Utah roads.

UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras Featured in New AASHTO Video

AASHTO occasionally posts a video they call the “2 Minute Update”, featuring transportation leaders from different state DOTs across the country. This month’s video profiles UDOT’s Executive Director Carlos Braceras. Carlos explains his vision for UDOT and discusses our emphasis on integrated transportation and the importance of educating new engineers. AASHTO distributes the video to reporters nationwide, and a few have already filed stories, including this one from CE News.

 

I-15 CORE Wins Two Safety Awards

UDOT’s I-15 CORE and Provo River Constructors were recently selected by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association as winners of 2013 Roadway Work Zone Safety Awareness Awards in the local educational campaign and training categories. UDOT won for its campaign on the lane split traffic configurations and PRC won for its overall safety program that included their “Hands-on Safety” outreach.

Lane Splits Outreach Campaign

As part of I-15 CORE construction, the lanes on I-15 in Orem and American Fork were split around the construction zone. The lane splits created a communication and traffic challenge, as drivers would need to know which lanes to use long before they reached the area – so they could either exit or stay on the freeway.

The maintenance of traffic (MOT) and communications teams developed a comprehensive outreach campaign that would raise awareness of the upcoming traffic configuration and provide information on how to safely navigate them and divert at least 20 percent of traffic, to keep the freeway flowing smoothly. The campaign included TV and print news stories, radio advertisements, social media and direct mail. A highlight of the outreach campaign was a clever movie theater ad that played like a romantic-comedy trailer.

In less than one month, over a quarter-of-a-million movie goers saw the movie trailer and more than 8,000 viewed the instructional video the month before the lane splits were in place. As the real sign of success, traffic continued to move smoothly through the construction area while the splits were in place.

PRC’s Hands On Safety Campaign

PRC had to build 24 miles of I-15 in just 35 months, but the I-15 CORE design-builder still made safety its number-one priority.

PRC carried out a comprehensive safety program that all employees adopted in their daily work. All of the nearly 6,000 employees attended a mandatory Project Safety and Railroad Orientation before they could start work. Weekly toolbox safety meetings, monthly “All-Hands” safety meetings, safety pre-planning and pre-shift safety task planning, jobsite inspections, accident investigations, medical treatment management, and tracking of any indicators and trends before and after incident were all required.

Even with all this training, management began seeing a trend of hand injuries among work crews. To reverse this trend, PRC developed and implemented a “Hands-on Safety” program emphasizing pinch point awareness and hand protection guidelines. The program included presentations, posters and a policy change to require gloves to be worn at all times when handling tools and/or materials.

The success of PRC’s work zone safety approach resulted in crews achieving one million workhours without a recordable incident, and one million work-hours without a lost-time incident on four separate occasions.  PRC put in over 7 million work hours to build I-15 CORE and achieved a safety record that was four times better than the national average in the construction industry.

Avalanche Press Conference

Last Friday, we held a press conference inviting the media to help increase awareness of avalanche safety and the resources available to those who access avalanche country, including the backcountry in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Backcountry skiers and snowboarders endanger hundreds of people by not utilizing available information sources and entering avalanche country at the wrong time. Skiers and riders need to be aware that their actions and decisions may not affect only themselves, but also drivers along the canyon road. Little Cottonwood Canyon is one of the highest-risk roads for avalanches in North America and backcountry skiers and snowboarders need to be aware that UDOT may carry out artillery or explosives avalanche control work at any time during the avalanche season (November to May).

Liam Fitzgerald, UDOT’s Highway Avalanche Safety Supervisor, helped inform the public at the press conference of the numerous resources UDOT and our partners provide to inform backcountry users of where and when avalanche work will be carried out, including:

The press conference was a success and you can watch one of the resulting stories below.

Our next steps to increase awareness of UDOT’s avalanche resources are a social media campaign targeted to appropriate audiences. By utilizing local public opinion leaders such as professional athletes and prominent ski/boarding brands, an informative UDOT Avalanche Awareness video will be spread locally to help keep backcountry users safe.

Here’s to a safe 2013 winter season!