Tag Archives: highway safety

FOCUS ON SEATBELTS

Utah traffic related fatalities are the lowest in 36 years, but there’s no low that’s too low.

Tim Cosgrove, who works as a Child Advocate for Primary Children's Medical Center, encourages Mallory to keep speaking out about safe behavior choices.

Out of the 235 people who lost their lives in 2010, 89 were not wearing seatbelts. ” That’s 89 people who could be here with us today,” says UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras.

“We do our best to engineer the roads,” said Braceras. “But there’s only so much that we can do. We can’t make you put down that cell phone. We can’t make you give the keys to someone who hasn’t been drinking. We can’t make you put on your seat belt. That’s up to everyone who gets in a car.”

Reducing crashes on our roads is a shared responsibility

One fatality means the loss of a beloved sibling, child or parent. Eighteen year old Mallory Martinez knows she might have been one of those fatalities had she not been wearing a seatbelt one day last November.

The Westminster College student was on her way home to Price, Utah for a weekend visit and was operating her iPod while driving on U.S. 6. She clipped a trailer “and from there I just spun and lost control,” said Martinez.

While her car was rolling, her thoughts were on her siblings and parents. Her car was totaled but she walked away with some scrapes. Martinez knows she’s lucky so she takes time to tell others to stay safe.

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

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!

FLYING STEEL AND FREEWAYS: NOT A GOOD MIX

A UDOT sponsored press event aimed at reminding motorists to prevent freeway litter featured a story about a flying chunk of steel and a demonstration of the right way to tie down loads.

Litter Hurts: Alema Harrington was hit and injured by flying debris on the freeway. His story is a good reminder to properly tie down loads before transporting on Utah roads.

Wearing a sling from an injury caused by debris on I-15, Utah Jazz Broadcaster Alema Harrington warned motorists about what can happen when loads are not secured properly. “You could be a participant” in an accident that could have tragic consequences.

Harrington knows he could have been killed. On his way to work, he saw an airborne object heading straight for his vehicle. What turned out to be a chunk of steel flew through his windshield, hit his arm and punctured his back seat.

A jagged piece of steel flew through Alema Harrington's windshield.

“You don’t have time to be scared. It’s just one of those things. You just go into survival mode.”

To raise public awareness about freeway litter, Harrington recorded a public service announcement to warn motorists about how debris can cause injury or other incidents. (Scroll down to view the PSA.)

His story shows why motorists need to be very careful to properly secure transported items. UDOT maintenance workers Jake Brown and CJ Connor were on hand to give how-to demonstrations.

Litter is not just soda cans or old newspaper; it's anything that does not belong on Utah's roads. According to UDOT maintenance workers, ladders are an often retrieved item. CJ Connor, left, and Jake Brown demonstrated how to secure a ladder in the bed of a pick-up.

Securing items on a trailer or in a pick-up bed can be done using items commonly available at a home improvement store. For example, wrapping up lawn debris in a tarp can prevent leaves from “flying out like a bunch of confetti,” said Jake.  For a list safety tips for securing items, visit the Litter Hurts website and see “Are You Secure?” at the top.

UDOT provided media with a CD video of  Harrington’s PSA:

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.

PAINTING OVER GRAFFITI

UDOT workers paint over graffiti in the Spaghetti Bowl where I-80 splits to go to southbound I-15. Workers from Station 2445 always "find a way to get it down," says Dave Kelley, who is holding the sprayer. Looking on is Mike Ellis, also in the bucket. On top feeding the paint line is Jeffery Stephenson. Behind is Riley O'Brien and driving is Greg Fatzinger. Thanks, guys!

Graffiti vandals are getting better at defacing structures along state routes but UDOT workers are right on their heels.

“Some people don’t even know we have a graffiti problem because we find it and get rid of it so quick,” says Dave Kelley who works at UDOT Station 2445. Workers use a bridge inspection truck (sometimes called a “snooper” because the arm of the truck reaches under bridges) to get the tough spots. Kelley and others at that station are are also responsible for removing over-grown weeds along state routes.

MAKE IT CLICK

The rest of the family was fine

A school year book page tells about the tragic loss of friend Calvin Hansen

Calvin Hansen was a kind, fun-loving boy who always “mustered up a lot of enthusiasm for life,” says his mom Donna Hansen. Calvin died in a car crash because he had secretly removed his a seat belt on a family road trip. Others in the car were not badly hurt. After his death, Donna “just wanted to scream to the world ‘wear your seatbelt!’”

Donna told her family’s story today at a kick-off for “Click It or Ticket,” a statewide campaign to promote seat belt use. Her hope is that by telling the heart-breaking tale, others will listen.

Seat belt advocate Donna Hansen talks to a reporter about the loss of her son Calvin


Utah law requires that all passengers and drivers use safety belts

From May 24 through June 6, local and state law enforcement agencies will be conducting highly visible extended effort to enforce Utah’s seatbelt law by issuing citations to drivers who don’t buckle up.  Utah Chick-fil-A restaurants have joined in the effort by providing coupons for a free sandwich for officers to distribute to buckled motorists with each traffic stop – a reward for driving safe.

According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, correct use of seatbelts use can reduce the risk of injury or death by 70% but nearly 300,000 Utahns fail to buckle up. The age group least likely to buckle up is young people age 15 to 24.

What the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Highway Safety Office wants you to know:

You could be involved in a crash – On an average day in Utah, there are 155 motor vehicle crashes involving nearly 400 people, resulting in 70 injuries and one death.

Seatbelts provide effective protection – Regular seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to protect people and reduce fatalities in a crash. In Utah, unbuckled occupants were 29 times more likely to die than belted occupants.

Take the pledge:

The goal of the Click It or Ticket effort is to educate the public and increase seat belt use, not to write citations.  You can help in that effort!  Find Utah Click It or Ticket on Facebook, take the pledge to always buckle up, enter to win $45 (the price of a citation) and publish your results on your profile and friends’ walls!

Sergent Robert Breck of the Utah Highway Patrol: He'll be watching

Sergent Breck of the Utah Highway Patrol holds a Click It or Ticket Poster