How alert are we on the road?

Pre-K Bike-a-thon 051We all travel, don’t we?  How alert are we when moving about?

Do we check local traffic laws when we travel?  I have traveled to many countries and one of the main concerns I had in traveling the local roads was making sure I didn’t hit a bicyclist or pedestrian.

I’ve heard of some troublesome situations for motorists traveling from another country.  Plus, imagine the ongoing guilt feeling even if we are in the right.

But it’s not only while traveling abroad.  The challenge is even in our home towns.

May is bicycle safety month in Florida so I thought I would provide an emphasis on this subject.

Alert Today_National Bike Month_Web (1)

CTSTFL-bicyclist-tip-card-300x180In Florida, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) works diligently to help ensure our vulnerable road users (like bicyclists and those walking) are protected.  There are ongoing campaigns to emphasize road safety.

 

I’ll use some of their information to highlight this month’s emphasis on bike safety.

Alert Today_National Bike Month_Web, SpanishThis is important for those who live in Florida as well as the U.S.A.  It’s equally important for those visiting from other countries to understand the traffic rules to help protect ourselves, resulting in a pleasant experience.

I also think it is important to understand when we travel to and through tourist destinations there are many just like us mixing with the locals on the roads.  Some know where they are going and some do not.  We MUST recognize this diversity on the roads for a safer travel experience.

DSC_4993Many times when we travel through construction zones our GPS or electronic devices may not be dependable, whether on the major highways or local roads.  This creates an additional distraction causing us to not be as vigilant for other vehicles, bicyclists or pedestrians.  I suggest we review a map of the area before traveling so we will know if the GPS is accurate or not; and have an alternate route planned to help ease the confusion.  

DCIM100GOPROG0056781.
Cyclists rides correctly on the right side in the U.S.  Think how far your mirror sticks out too.  

During my last trip to Europe I was once again reminded to be extra careful and alert for bicyclists.  I believe when we travel to other countries we realize the importance of being watchful because of uncertainty on the roadways; however, I’m confident we are not as observant around our familiar roadways at home.

DCIM100GOPROG0079765.
Bicyclist uses the bike lane properly and rides with the traffic.  Drivers must still ensure at least three foot distance while passing a bicycle.  

My personal opinion is there are more bicyclists in Europe than in the U.S. – for varying reasons – and local drivers are more accustomed to them, along with a better attitude toward cyclists.  Maybe most U.S. drivers  prefer using motorized vehicles and aren’t as tolerant for bicyclists.

So, what are we to do?

It’s spring now and there is an increase of bicyclists as the trend builds throughout the summer.  Be alert cyclists not following the rules.  They often don’t ride in the same direction as traffic when riding on the road.  You are required to ride WITH the traffic, not against it.  You may use the sidewalk in most areas provided you give an audible warning to a pedestrian when approaching him or her.

Although Florida Statutes allow riding on the sidewalk, there are some local municipalities that have more stringent requirements.  For instance, in St. Augustine, particularly around the downtown area, bicyclists are not supposed to ride on sidewalks.  This is likely true in many congested areas where a lot of people are walking around.

Bicyclist rides against traffic
Bicyclist falls almost in front of an oncoming  vehicle after crossing a major road illegally.

 

Bicyclist rides against traffic, after fall
Bicyclist picks up his bicycle after falling nearly in front of this vehicle. We all must expect the unexpected.

It’s up to law enforcement to determine respective violations and cite them, or not.  In Jacksonville,  you may be fined if you ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in an unsafe manner or if there is a bike lane in the road and you choose to not use it.  However, I’m sure most law enforcement officers prefer to not write these citations.

This link provides more information about FDOT efforts to improve traffic safety – particularly for bicyclists and pedestrians.   https://www.alerttodayflorida.com/index.html 

Here are some key findings from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (based on their latest statistics reported):  https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812382

• There were 818 pedalcyclist (bicyclist) deaths in 2015, which accounted for 2.3 percent of all traffic fatalities during the year.

• Seventy percent of pedalcyclists who died in motor vehicle crashes in 2015 died in crashes in urban areas.

• Over the 10-year period from 2006 to 2015, the average age of pedalcyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes increased from 41 to 45.

• The pedalcyclist fatality rate per million people was almost 6 times higer for males than females in 2015.

• Alcohol involvement – either for the motor vehicle operator or for the pedalcyclist – was reported in 37 percent of all fatal pedalcyclist crashes in 2015.

• More than 27 percent of the pedalcyclists who died in 2015 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .01 g/dL or greater.

CTSTFL-bicyclist-tip-card-300x180Pre-K Bike-a-thon 012There are numerous bicycle education and training courses as well as events in Florida.  I’m curious if other states and countries have a robust plan to help the most vulnerable travelers.  When do other states and countries begin reinforcing safe habits to bicyclists – as a child, youth or adult?

FDOT works through various local, state and national partners to survey and conduct research as well as safety campaigns to reinforce road safety.

Bike to SchoolOne of FDOT’s Alert Today Florida campaigns involves reinforcing bike safety as children ride to school.  I applaud the National Football League Jacksonville Jaguars in teaming each year with FDOT’s Alert Today Florida emphasis.  I was part of this emphasis in 2017.  Mark Brunell, former Jaguars quarterback, and Donovin Darius, former Jaguars defensive safety, along with The ROAR cheerleaders and the Jaguars Mascot Jaxson de  Ville, were key celebrities to highlight safe biking to school.

Ronnie and Levi
Do you remember the commercials years ago with the “crash dummies Larry and Vince?”  Recent efforts involved using these outfits to emphasize buckling up and other road safety procedures.  
Ron as Larry the Crash Smarty
I had the privilege, or duty, to interact with young people and adults to reinforce driver, bicycle and pedestrian safety. Youth particularly enjoyed the interaction – although some were apprehensive and didn’t know for sure if the “dummy” was real or just fake.  You should have seen them jump when I moved! 

Since May is the emphasis month this year for bicycling, there was a first-ever Bicycle Safety 365 Challenge at select schools.  The Bicycle Safety 365 Challenge in Jacksonville was a four-week pilot program that provides in-class bicycle safety lessons to all sixth grade students at Fletcher, Kernan and Mayport Middle Schools.

Each week, a different bicycle safety lesson was taught in class with teachers hosting safety activities for exciting learning opportunities.  Schools had the opportunity to earn points during the week. The school with the most points by the end of the fourth week wins a “Bike to School Day” event with the Jacksonville Jaguars!

For their participation, each school was awarded new Alert Today Florida bicycle racks as a way of encouraging active transportation to schools, students, and families.  You can click on this link to see which school won the competition and will have a Bike-to-School Day event with the Jacksonville Jaguars on May 9.   https://www.alerttodayflorida.com/jaguarsafety.html

Bike to School 8
Alert Today Florida efforts to provide and “fit” children with bicycle helmets.  

I challenge cities, states and countries to examine how we emphasize and reinforce travel safety wherever we go – at home and abroad.  There must be a major emphasis worldwide to help save lives of our most vulnerable roadway users. 

This link has video clips for safe biking.  https://www.alerttodayflorida.com/bikesafevideos.html

Other safety tips may be viewed at http://trafficsafetyteam.org/traffic-safety-campaigns/bicycle-safety/.  

Motorists:

  • Share the road with bicyclists.
  • Stop before turning right on red.
  • Passing bicyclists too closely is dangerous and illegal.
  • Focus on the road.  Avoid aggressive driving.
  • Obey the traffic laws, signals and speed limits.

Sharro example-2

Do you know what a Sharrow is? Throughout Florida there are road markings in the middle of a lane showing a bicycle with two arrow lines above it. This is a Sharrow!

Sharrow-web

  • SHARROW is a shared-lane marking indicating where a cyclist has the right to ride.
  • Give cyclists 3 feet of space when passing.
  • Under Florida Law, bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles.
  • Focus on the road and obey the traffic laws, signals and speed limits

Safe travels everyone!

Ron

 

Who is responsible for traffic safety?

Pedestrian crossing between traffic (2)
                                                                  Person walking across multiple lanes of busy traffic.  Why didn’t she use the crosswalk and push the button?

Pedestrians cross busy corridors regularly every day without thought of their safety and thinking EVERY driver will see them.

What is needed? Will autonomous (self-driving) vehicles be the answer? But, how would a pedestrian or cyclist know if the vehicle is autonomous or being driven by a human? What will it take for individuals being responsible for their own traffic safety?

 

It is so easy to cast fault to others. Every day I drive I see someone walking or biking in between traffic, even when they are within 20 feet of a marked crosswalk. I just don’t understand this scenario, especially in major corridors with many moving parts and distractions. I believe we are almost facing an epidemic of non-attention in traffic safety.

My heart goes out to those impacted by traffic crashes,whether they are at fault or not. The fact is, someone died or was injured. That impacts everyone involved.

Ped symbol

Can and will these situations be prevented? I propose the ongoing achievements for autonomous vehicles will help curtail crashes but can we rely on technology alone?

Just recently a tragic death occurred where a self-driving vehicle apparently did not “see” a pedestrian in time to stop. As I looked at the video clip my first thought was I couldn’t see the person neither since it was night and the person was wearing dark clothing. If I was driving the vehicle myself I’m not sure I could have stopped in time.

If we combine current technology with our increased traffic awareness I’m confident we can help save lives. I think it will take years though for fully-autonomous vehicles to adapt to practically every scenario. Even then, if a pedestrian or cyclist doesn’t take necessary precautions – such as using roadway safety designs, wearing bright clothes, using proper lighting – can we really say that the vehicle is at fault? #pedsafety #autonomousvehicle

Florida Department of Transportation has a website that provides excellent products and information for traffic safety in northeast Florida.  Check it out at http://trafficsafetyteam.org/

With spring arriving there are more people walking and bicycling.  I’m curious concerning laws and how people use the designed road safety features around the world.  I see that human nature is the same.

How observant will we be in the days ahead.  Let’s make a goal of saving one life at a time!  We can!

 

Green comes to town

Green cupcakes (2)Green is the buzz word during this special time of year.  Do you do green in March?

Green just happens to be my favorite color but what is significant with it?

According to Color-Meanings the color green symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. “Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety. Dark green is also commonly associated with money. Green has great healing power. It is the most restful color for the human eye; it can improve vision”.  www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html

Many analysts mention the color green is one of the most encouraging and uplifting colors, giving hope more than any other color.

IMG_4313
Do you have a preferred shade of green?

So, is there any wonder the color emphasis this weekend is green – specifically referencing the St. Patrick’s Day emphasis?

I know practically anywhere you travel in the U.S.A on March 17 you will have your fill of green.  Just embrace it.

According to CNN the green shamrock is a “symbol of Ireland — known as the Emerald Isle because of its lush vegetation. And traditional Irish legend held that wearing green made you invisible to leprechauns. Regardless of the reason, the world unites around the color green on StPatrick’s Day.”  https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/16/world/green-landmarks-saint-patricks-day-trnd/index.html

Well, what about some of the origin?  If you check out Wikipedia you’ll  learn that green is associated with Ireland from the 1640s when the green harp flag was used by the Irish Catholic Confederation.  “Green ribbons and shamrocks have been work on St. Patrick’s Day since at least the 1680s.”

So let’s get on the bandwagon and celebrate – although we should do it responsibly.  There are already too many people dying on our roadways.  Please don’t let this happen to you, a loved one or a friend.

If you travel in the southeastern part of the U.S. – particularly near Savannah, Georgia, you may want to check out their events for St. Patrick’s Day – packed with parties, special events and a parade.  You may want to wear at least “something” green.  Activities may be viewed at http://www.savannah.com/st-patricks-day-events-savannah/st-patricks-day-festival.

Savannah’s parade information may be viewed at http://www.savannah.com/st-patricks-day-events-savannah/savannahs-st-patricks-day-parade.  Oh, by the way, in case you want to follow tradition and “kiss” a military person in uniform the local authorities say stop.  I wonder how many will adhere to this latest challenge.Savannah.gov green shamrocks

Now I’m curious.

Do other countries, aside from Ireland, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like we do in the U.S.A.?

Green cupcakes.jpgWhat experiences have you had celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?

Will you go green also?  I will.

I don’t want a Leprechaun to sneak up from behind and pinch me.

Daytona What?

Daytona What?

Ever been to the Daytona 500 stock car race in Florida?  DAYTONA-B-ROLL

It’s really exciting watching the speeding pieces of metal at 190-200 mph; with a human strapped inside.

If you get the chance it is always an exciting event that begins NASCAR’s season.  It’s the “super bowl” of auto racing.

https://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Events/2016/Speedweeks-At-DAYTONA/Speedweeks-At-DAYTONA.aspx

Well, along with the exciting event comes the traffic too if you are traveling in Florida this week and next week.  Even Disney’s theme parks experience a surge in guests.

Here are some traffic tips to go along with your travels; thanks to Florida Department of Transportation.

The Florida Department of Transportation encourages motorists to use the 511 Traveler Information System for information on current roadway impediments.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=j29WOKnz7ww#t=0

Daytona Raceway 3 by Caleb Gressman
Daytona Raceway prepares for Speedweeks and the Daytona 500 (photo by Caleb Gressman)

In addition to Sunday’s DAYTONA 500, the Speedway will host major events featuring the Can-Am Duel, NextEra Energy Resources 250 and PowerShares QQQ 300 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday—all are expected to draw large crowds to the area. Travelers should be prepared for increased congestion on I-4 from Orlando to Daytona Beach and I-95 from Jacksonville to Titusville.

Real-Time Traffic Updates

FDOT encourages race fans and travelers in the area to check the Florida 511 Traveler Information System prior to hitting the road to stay up-to-date on crashes, congestion, construction and more. The 511 system provides information on all of Florida’s interstates, toll roads and other major metropolitan roadways, including those near the Speedway, such as I-4 and I-95.

There are five convenient ways for all motorists to receive traffic updates:

  • Call 511 toll free for updates in English and Spanish.
  • Visit FL511.com for interactive roadway maps showing traffic congestion and crashes, travel times and traffic camera views.
  • Sign up for a “My Florida 511” account at FL511.com to create custom routes and register for email, text or phone alerts.
  • Download the free Florida 511 mobile app available on Google Play or Apple App Store.
  • Follow one of the 13 statewide, regional or roadway-specific Twitter feeds (#FL511), including @FL511_I75,@FL511_Central, @FL511_I95 and @FL511_I4.

Alternate Routes

During peak Speedweeks traffic, FDOT suggests travelers who are traveling through the area to consider using alternate routes such as SR 44, if traveling north on I-95 or east on I-4.

Parking

Daytona International Speedway offers fans free parking and park-and-ride service to and from the Speedway before and after the events. To access the free parking lots, fans are encouraged to take the following exits:

  • Traveling south on I-95 exit at US 1 (exit 273)
  • Traveling north on I-95 exit at LPGA Blvd. (exit 265) or SR 44 (exit 249)
  • Traveling east on I-4 exit at SR 44 (exit 118) or SR 400/Beville Road

Detailed directions to parking are available at DAYTONA500.com.

Safety Tips

  • Call 511 before driving or have a passenger call to avoid using a phone while driving.
  • Allow ample time to reach your destination if traveling to or near the Daytona Beach area during on the days when traffic is expected to be the heaviest.
  • Always wear a safety belt.
  • Don’t drink and drive.

 Florida 511 Features

  • Traffic information on all interstate highways, toll roads and many other metropolitan roadways.
  • Commuter travel times and reports on crashes, congestion and construction.
  • Public transit, airport and seaport information.
  • AMBER, Silver and law enforcement alerts. America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alerts notify the public of the most serious child-abduction cases. Silver Alerts notify the public when law enforcement agencies are searching for missing adults or citizens with cognitive impairments, including Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Alerts notify the public when law enforcement officers are searching for an offender(s) who has seriously injured or killed a law enforcement officer.
  • Travel information, traffic camera views and free personalized services, including customized travel routes and email, text and phone call alerts, available on FL511.com.
  • Voice-activated and touch-tone navigation available when calling 511.
  • The 511 phone call and  FL511.com website are available in English and Spanish.

(Daytona Raceway prepares for Speedweeks and the Daytona 500.  FDOT is there to remind drivers to be Safe Today, or Tonight, and be Alive Tomorrow.  Photo by Caleb Gressman)

Here is my personal note:

ENJOY FLORIDA!  Drive safely and responsibly.  When you’re walking or biking please know and follow the rules and watch for motorists who don’t see you!

Be alert today so you’ll be alive tomorrow.  IMG_4603

While this is not the Daytona 500, it is representative of racing and the emphasis on being alert – no matter what you use to get around – whether your feet, wheelchair, bike or motorized vehicle.  Thanks Sweet Motorsports for helping get the message out.