I guess it depends on your interpretation but we each have a work zone, don’t we? Okay, for those who don’t work outside the home how about our safety or comfort zone? Think about it for a minute.
We all want our “zones” to be free from threats, abuse, danger and even discomfort. We need to strive toward ensuring personal safe zones for sure, but let’s expand it also for driving as well.
It’s really not much difference between the small zone and the large work zone where so many workers around the highways have to work. Give it some thought again. Construction, maintenance and emergency response along our roadways create work zones for those who make a living around them.
If we realized a family member works just a couple of feet from people driving at high speeds, and sometimes while being distracted, would we be more conscious about slowing down and being observant? I think so. They deserve to work in a safe environment too, and come home safely to their loved ones.
This week is the National Work Zone Awareness Week 2019 in the U.S.
I’m not sure how work zone safety is emphasized in other countries, and I would like to know, but let’s be more mindful as we see these orange zones, barrels and flags while driving the highways. They are not placed there for decoration.
National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), in its 19th year, is a national public awareness campaign that spreads the message that we are all responsible for work zone safety. This year’s NWZAW is April 8-12, 2019, and this year’s theme is “Drive Like You Work Here”. (Florida Department of Transportation and National Highway Safety Administration)
Recent statistics from the National Highway Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) show (from 2016 to 2017) a two percent increase in total work zone fatalities and increase from 668 to 710 total work zone crashes. Those startling statistics further demonstrate the importance of spreading awareness of work zone safety and participating in NWZAW to spread the message that we all play a role in getting roadway workers home safely.
Additionally, there were a total of 158,000 work zone crashes total in 2016—of which 42,000 were injury-involved crashes that resulted in 61,000 injuries – which underscores the need for further awareness of how to behave and drive safely in work zones.
U.S. National Highway Safety Administration
This awareness campaign is only a week but let’s allow it to carry over throughout the year.
Who knew that March is Women’s Bike History
Month? I discovered this while comparing
Florida’s Bike Month to the May Bike Month by The League of American Bicyclists,
established in 1880.
So, I’ll combine some of the history of the contribution of women along with come bicycle safety tips.
1896, Susan B. Anthony — one of the most
important leaders in the women’s suffrage movement — shared her perspective on
bicycling with intrepid reporter, Nellie Bly. “Let me tell you what I
think of bicycling,” she said. “I think it has done more to
emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of
freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by
on a wheel… the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.” https://bikeleague.org/content/march-womens-bike-history-month
realized this. According to the Bike
League article, Anthony wasn’t alone. The article mentioned her friend, and
fellow suffragette, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, wrote an entire article for
the American Wheelman praising the bicycle for encouraging the
building of “good roads,” and increasing people’s mobility. It states, most importantly, though: “The
bicycle will inspire women with more courage, self-respect and self-reliance,
and make the next generation more vigorous of mind and body; for feeble mothers
do not produce great statesmen, scientists and scholars.”
not certain about the latter part of the statement but maybe that was a
challenge enough to encourage women to begin expanding their horizons with
confidence. Could it have been simply a bicycle
that helped trigger this progress?
So, as you warm up and exercise on your bike that has been sitting around for the winter, let’s highlight a few safety pointers. First, give your bike a safety inspection and make sure it is operating properly, including lights.
I realize each state and country has its own special rules and laws so I’ll just stick to a few things to consider. Consult your own local laws where you ride – and when we travel to other locations. Let’s not assume our knowledge is sufficient for where we ride. Check before your ride!
Florida is a great place to ride your bike. If you are driving in Florida, please be aware of cyclists. Cyclists need to be aware of vehicle drivers as well. Let’s have mutual respect and protection.
Florida Department of Transportation’s Alert Today Florida program has key information, and posted the proclamation from Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, for March Bicycle Month. https://www.alerttodayflorida.com/ Florida knows the importance of doing everything possible to make roadways safer for all users.
I enjoyed making presentations to teens and adults alike to encourage vehicle, bike and pedestrian safety. I had fun re-enacting Larry, the crash test mannequin (which I changed to Larry the Smarty since he now buckles up, rides safely and walks safely.
Here are some simple tips to remember:
– A bicycle in Florida is a legal vehicle on roadways. Don’t assume though that people see you or know the law. Better to be safe.
– Cyclists on roadways fare best when they act, and are treated as vehicles.
– Bicyclists may ride on sidewalks as well but must yield to pedestrians and provide an audible signal while approaching them.
– Some local laws may not permit a bicyclist to ride on the sidewalk, so check before you ride.
– Ride in the same direction as the traffic since the bike is an authorized road vehicle.
– If a designated bike lane is in the roadway, some local laws require bicyclists to use it instead of the sidewalk. That may not be safe for children though.
– If you see an image of a bicycle on the roadway, called a sharrow, it means a bicyclist should be expected to be in the roadway. These are often alternatives to designated bike lanes when there is insufficient space to build the separate lanes.
“Ready, set, go”, or “drivers,
start your engines.”
For those traveling Interstate
95 in the U.S, particularly in northeast Florida, you will encounter an extra amount
of traffic. Daytona 500’s speed weeks
are this week and the big race – Daytona 500 in Daytona, Florida – is Sunday.
You’ll notice not only extra traffic but people driving like they are in the race itself, going excessively over the speed limit and darting between other vehicles with drivers trying to drive safely.
I appreciate our law enforcement doing what they can, but they can’t be everywhere. SO! Please drive with extra caution and please don’t let the less responsible ruin your travel plans, nor prevent you from “arriving alive.” https://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/arrivealive/.
Most people don’t realize they can call *FHP or *347 while in Florida to help with an emergency on the Interstate, or to report a hazardous condition.
Also, for those traveling in the Daytona area please be aware of an increase in pedestrians and bicyclists as thousands of people walk, bike and drive the area. Florida Department of Transportation’s “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow” emphasis overall and specific traffic safety at https://www.alerttodayflorida.com/
Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle with a 155 miles-per-hour fury and extensive storm surge. It continued into Georgia as a hurricane wreaking significant damage and continues to impact much of the southeastern U.S.A.
Travelers through the southeastern U.S. need to keep aware of travel conditions as they will change regularly even after Hurricane Michael exits.
Thousands of emergency response team members are already working life-saving missions first, along with safety and security. Thousands more from various areas are currently traveling to the impacted areas.
There are more than 3,000 Florida National Guard troops on active status already working missions in support of key agencies.
Florida’s Division of Emergency Management is overseeing and coordinating response efforts as directed by Florida’s Governor Rick Scott. The U.S. Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been planning and positioning support to assist respective state governments and are already performing duties.
It is not feasible to identify all of those responding, as practically every local, state and federal U.S. agency is working on behalf of the citizens and guests.
Some of the first ones responding to help save lives involves the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). They normally respond with a variety of specialized equipment, including shallow draft boats, ATVs, airboats and four-wheel-drive vehicles. They all work in conjunction with law enforcement and fire/rescue agencies.
If you are considering traveling through the southeastern U.S., please travel only if necessary – at least until the major response and recovery efforts allow you to safely do so.
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) highly suggests using one of their preferred tools to monitor roadway conditions. Florida 511. Also, please be aware that many of the roadways throughout the path of the storm are closed due to damage or being under water. It is best not to drive through water. “Turn around, don’t drown.”
Know before you go.
Information on roadway conditions and closures is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on Florida 511. Drivers may dial 511 from their mobile phones to receive updates. (Please stop safety while using the device or let a passenger use it.) 511 is a free resource, however, cell phone minutes and text message charges may apply. Updates are also available on the web at www.FL511.com.
Georgia’s Department of Transportation Special Response Teams will begin clearing impacted roadways once the worst of the storm passes. In the event of major flooding, crews will wait until waters recede to begin clean up. Priority routes will be cleared first to ensure the public maintains access to hospitals, trauma centers and other public facilities.
Call 511 to report flash flooding, downed trees or other obstructions on roadways or bridges impeding travel
Take shelter as the system passes through the state
Do not to drive around barricades that are in place for motorist’s safety or through standing water
Residents should never clear tree limbs, downed trees or debris from roadways, as live power lines could be tangled in debris and cause injury or death; instead, wait for Georgia DOT and Georgia Power crews
Motorists who must drive should always treat flashing red and non-operational signals as a four-way stop
Go or stay, when in harms way? To me, that’s a no-brainer. If my life and family is at risk for loss of life, do you think I would stay in a threat environment without making a change? For sure – NO.
However, many people choose to remain in the main threat area during catastrophic weather – such as Hurricane Michael churning in the Gulf of Mexico toward the Florida Panhandle. (Update: Now that Michael has made landfall the decision was made and people have to live with that decision; however, those still in the path of Michael into Georgia and northward can still make an informed decision.)
I’m watching Michael and it brings back memories of Ivan.
I recall working in Florida’s State Emergency Management Center in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan attacked the Florida Panhandle area that borders Alabama.
The Category 3 storm struck with a fury, pushing the ocean on shore and blowing structures apart.
The general public probably doesn’t understand the concept of all the work going on behind-the-scenes in so many emergency planning teams and centers when a disaster strikes. I know! I’ve been there and observed firsthand. It is AMAZING all the dedication and countless hours performed by government employees and volunteers.
Preparations for Hurricane Michael remain similar to those crises of years past as thousands prepare, respond and recover.
People can help. Local emergency management teams know the areas best and they have studied their areas in detail. If they say to evaluate or take certain precautions, please do so. Once the main threat of a hurricane is underway, emergency response teams can’t respond.
I recall a phone call I received during Hurricane Ivan.
A dad called from California stating he was talking on the phone with his daughter who was in a condominium on the beach near Pensacola, Florida. She was in her room a few stories above ground level.
The dad said his daughter mentioned the winds were picking up and she could see the ocean pouring in at the bottom floor. He pleaded for her to take cover and protect herself.
Then … all of a sudden… he heard glass breaking and whirling wind. He had no sound nor response from his daughter. He provided the address to me and asked for an emergency responder to check on her. I advised they will not be able to check until conditions subside. He seemed desperate.
I told the dad I would pass his information to our law enforcement emergency support team and they may be able to relay information to the search-and-rescue teams when they begin their mission as soon as conditions permit.
– Ron Tittle
So…if you have loved ones around the potential impact areas, please encourage them to listen to local authorities and heed their advice.
Also, continue to monitor local and national news.The Weather Channel is excellent at keeping the public updated. https://weather.com/
Everyone should also understand how so many agencies are poised and respond immediately when safe to do so. Currently more than 1,500 Florida National Guard troops are placed in active service by Florida’s governor with thousands on stand-by.
The Guard typically performs planning and staging missions beforehand to ensure their resources are properly placed and ready to move in immediately to the impacted areas.
Many military missions will include helping with search-and-rescue, security, aviation support, moving supplies and equipment, and so many other responsibilities as determined by the State Emergency Operations Center. Usually hundreds or thousands of Guard troops come from other states, along with active duty federal military, Coast Guard and other agencies.
State agencies conduct similar planning and response. Fish and Wildlife Commission teams do quite well in search-and-rescue along with various law enforcement agencies and fire/rescue teams.
The Florida Department of Transportation has emergency operations centers working in conjunction with the states’s emergency management center. They have professional engineers who have already been studying the potential impact of the storm and anticipate how they will respond quickly to assist in recovery. Once conditions permit, teams will provide a damage assessment to ensure bridges and roadways are safe for the public to use. The traveling public must be patient. It takes time to provide sufficient assessments. All of the response efforts are coordinated with the State Emergency Management Center to ensure the most effective and safe response to, within and from the impact areas, and so the proper resourcing can be provided. They also coordinate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Similar to Hurricane Ivan, I suspect many roads will have some of their structure base washed out or damaged in some way to prevent vehicles from crossing. The repairs could take some time.
So! Do you risk it with your life or family? After all, our protection and safety is the primary responsibility of government. Yet we have to take responsibility as well.
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.
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.