How safe is YOUR work zone?

Construction worker having to cross the highway between vehicles slowing down for him.

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. 

Highway repair workers work close to Interstate traffic.

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. 

To learn more about NWZAW, visit www.nwzaw.org.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Bikers galore

Be aware of motorcycles, no matter where you drive.

March 8-17, 2019 is Bike Week in Daytona, Florida.  Motorcycles are everywhere, practically.  Don’t let them sneak up on your blind side, okay? 

Dubbed the “World’s Largest Motorcycle Event,” Bike Week is a 10-day Daytona Beach area event filled with high-octane street festivals, concerts, motorcycle races, bike shows, rallies, manufacturer showcases, live music daily at iconic venues like Destination Daytona, Iron Horse Saloon, Main Street Station, Full Moon Saloon, Boot Hill Saloon, Bank and Blues and much more! Established more than seven decades ago, over 500,000 motorcyclists make the annual pilgrimage to this Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event.  https://www.daytonabeach.com/event/daytona-bike-week-2019/38445/

My personal opinion – drive and enter with caution. 

This video clip reflects how bikes can come out of nowhere.

I rode a motorcycle years ago and enjoyed jumping the hills and riding the trails, but was always cautious maneuvering around traffic. I would venture to say most large bike owners, such as Harley Davidson riders, are more conservative than the sleek, high-energy bikes, which remind me of road rockets. Do you agree?

Official information about Bike Week is located at https://officialbikeweek.com.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

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!

 

Florida in the forefront for automated vehicles

Florida in the forefront for automated vehicles

I’ve wondered for years why technology for automated vehicles isn’t picking up steam. Have you?

I realize most of our populace still prefer driving and are not ready to give up the thrill, or whatever you want to call it – maybe just freedom.

However, what will help save lives in our fast and sometimes careless driving society? While plenty of us drive responsibly and desire to obey the rules of the road, I believe the pace of those driving irresponsibly is increasing, almost exponentially.

Combine the lack of responsibility with more efficient, fast vehicles that help mask speeds, or give the feeling that the vehicle will compensate for our human errors, and we have a disaster in the making.

What will make up the difference?

Autonomous vehicles are coming and they will be here whether we embrace the new technology or not.

Think of the lives that will be saved if the technology compensates for us – even the safe drivers who may have a moment of carelessness.  After all, none of us is perfect or 100 percent.

Florida is on the fast tract to make autonomous vehicles a reality sooner than what we think; and I’m glad.

Will you embrace the new capability or will you reject it? It is inevitable though.

Check out this blog post from FDOT about an autonomous summit coming to Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 1-2, 2015. https://myfdotnefl.wordpress.com/.

According to the website, the third annual Florida Automated Vehicles Summit is a part of the proactive planning with various state agencies, local governments, MPOs, and the private sector.  The efforts enhance automation and will continue the energy around Florida as a national leader in applying automated transportation to help improve the quality of life for all residents and visitors.

Check out www.automatedfl.com to learn more.