September is a month for many major hurricanes and tropical storms threaten the U.S., mostly from the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a preparation statement during the weekend advising the public that it’s National Preparedness Month. The theme for this week is for everyone to make an emergency plan, encouraging each of us to write, share and practice it.
I know – much of the U.S. does not live near the coast to be threatened by hurricanes or tropical storms, but what about tornados? What about ice storms? What about events that may require us to remain indoors, or without electrical power? Have you thought through the “what if” scenario sufficiently?
All communities worldwide should be prepared for the what if.
Additionally, all of us should keep informed from local emergency planners and response agencies as all disasters are local.
Hurricane – Photo credit: ready.gov
Flood – Photo credit: ready.gov
Fire – photo credit: ready.gov
Florida’s emergency management division suggests the following concept for a basic plan.
Step 1: Put together a plan by discussing these 4 questions with your family, friends, or household to start your emergency plan.
How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
What is my shelter plan?
What is my evacuation route?
What is my family/household communication plan?
Step 2: Consider specific needs in your household.
As you prepare your plan tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like the operation of durable medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance.
We 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.
In 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.
This 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.
Many 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.
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.
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.
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.
• 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.
There 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.
One 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.
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
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.
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.
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 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 colorgreen 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
FDOT’s Alert Today
Alive Tomorrow Reminders
(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.
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.