From the Director: NJ LTAP on the Move
Welcome to the first edition of the NJ LTAP Enews for this year. Our 2017 kickoff issue is comprised of a variety of safety articles. This content was selected to showcase many of the innovations that are implementable at the municipal, county, and state levels. NJ LTAP is also sharing with you some of the cutting-edge technologies that make it possible to increase roadway safety.
Our 2017 training season has already begun. Please be sure to check online for the most current schedule of workshops (cait.rutgers.edu/cait/training). Programs are continually added. We also will be working with several organizations to bring you additional professional development opportunities throughout the year, such as the American Public Works Association, NJ Chapter; NJ State Association of County Engineers; NJ Association of Counties; NJ Asphalt Pavement Association; and the County and Municipal Traffic Engineers Association.
Janet Leli, Director
FHWA-NJ Division Guidance Updates
The FHWA has recently released Clarifications of Existing Standards and Guidance on New and Innovative Traffic Control Devices. The purpose of this information is to further clarify the status of several types of traffic control devices currently allowed for use by the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD) under various types of approval, and to provide an update on the evaluation of several other types of traffic control devices under consideration for Interim Approval.
This information can be found at mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/policy/tcdstatusmemo/index.htm. Please disseminate this information as appropriate to state, toll, county, and local jurisdictions.
If you have any questions regarding specific traffic control devices or the interim approval and experimentation processes please contact Matthew Zeller at the FHWA Division Office.
The FHWA has also recently published a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Amendment to the MUTCD in the Federal Register on January 4, 2017 regarding Minimum Maintained Retroreflectivity of Pavement Markings. The docket closes May 4, 2017. The federal register notice can be viewed at the docket site where comments should be submitted: www.regulations.gov, then by searching under docket ID: “FHWA-2009-0139”. Please note that there are also 3 SNPA-related supplemental documents on the docket site:
- Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity SNPRM – MUTCD Text
- Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity SNPRM – Methods Report (the guidance document referenced in paragraph 3 of the proposed text)
- Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity SNPRM – Economic Analysis
The current documents are easier to find if you adjust the filter under Document Type so only the boxes for “Proposed Rule” and “Supporting & Related Material” are checked. If you don’t adjust the filter, you may need to wade through many other documents since this is the same docket that was used for the NPA in 2010 and therefore all the documents and comments to the NPA are at this site.
Championing Safety on Local Roads
by Rosemarie Anderson, Pamela M. Beer, and Danena Gaines
Improving safety and operations on local roads is no easy task. Local roads are defined as those owned and operated by local jurisdictions (county, township, or other municipality) and not restricted by functional classification. The sheer number of these roads and their owners and operators presents a challenge. Approximately seventy-five percent of the Nation’s roadways are local roads, and they are owned and operated by more than 30,000 agencies, including county, city, town, tribal, and other owners. Further complicating the matter is that these agencies have significant diversity in resources, including traffic expertise and funding.
Transportation agencies implement safety improvements through coordination and collaboration with a variety of traffic safety professionals and stakeholders. Local safety practitioners serve an important role in choosing new and innovative approaches to make roads safer. However, transportation professionals and safety practitioners depend on local officials who approve budgets and make decisions on the use of resources. Because of this essential link, engaging local officials in adopting innovations in transportation can greatly assist safety practitioners in improving roadway safety for the traveling public.
Increasingly diverse innovations in traffic safety (such as roundabouts, enhanced delineation and high friction surface treatments for horizontal curves, road diets, and signing inventories) also make it more important than ever for traffic safety practitioners to work with local public officials. Practitioners can help officials understand the importance of these improvements to the safety of their communities and become champions for their use.
Transportation professionals also need to inform public officials that the methods to identify and prioritize improvements have advanced. For example, the systemic approach to safety improvement process identifies potential locations for improvements based on risk rather than simply locations where crashes have occurred.
Local transportation and public works professionals should always engage appropriate decision makers, including public officials, on innovative practices to gain the necessary buy-in and resources needed to implement improvements.
Engaging and Informing Local Officials
Local officials must address many public concerns, including transportation, public safety, economic development, and city or county services, often with limited budgets and revenue. They represent cities, counties, consolidated governments, and tribal lands. Local public officials are the ones who make decisions about how Federal, State, and local transportation funds are spent, as well as how resources (staff, equipment, materials) are used. These decision makers may include city councilpersons, county commissioners, mayors, county or city managers, public works directors, city or county engineers, and law enforcement officials.
Proactively engaging local officials in the process of adopting new traffic safety innovations can keep them informed and supportive, ease the implementation process, and, most important, improve local road safety. Safety professionals should inform local officials of the most pressing traffic safety challenges in their jurisdictions and arm them with the knowledge of potential solutions so they can act as champions for safety improvements in their communities. Henderson, NV, for example, has found a champion in Councilwoman Debra March.
“It’s important to involve elected officials in traffic safety issues as we meet regularly with our engaged constituents,” says Councilwoman March. “These meetings provide an opportunity to communicate the initiatives and programs our traffic engineers and police officers are implementing to improve traffic safety. Delivering a compelling story, backed with empirical data, resonates with our constituents, gains their support, and improves safety for everyone in our community.”
Law Enforcement Fatalities Rise Significantly in 2016
by Dave Maruca, NJ LTAP
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NJLEOMF), 135 police officers lost their lives in 2016, which is a 10% increase over the previous year. Many of these were traffic-related deaths, which also saw a 10% increase from the previous year.
New Jersey experienced two in-the-line-of-duty deaths last year. According to the New Jersey State Police, Trooper Sean Cullen was struck and killed by a vehicle while assisting at the scene of a vehicle fire. He was outside of his cruiser and walking near the scene of the fire when he was struck by a passing motorist. Trooper Frankie Williams was also killed when his patrol car was struck head-on by a vehicle on Route 55, near milepost 22, in Millville. He was responding to a call for service when the other vehicle crossed the grass median of the highway and collided with his patrol car.
According to the NJLEOMF, in the first three weeks of 2017 we unfortunately have witnessed another spike in police fatalities, which are up 120% compared to 2016. Traffic-related fatalities are currently up 150% from last year. With this current trend, it is critically important that law enforcement officers and the motoring public remain vigilant at all times and exercise sound safety practices in and around the roadway.
Remember, in New Jersey, there is a Move Over Law in place.
2015 Occupational and Work Zones Fatalities
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released their 2015 Fatal Occupational Injuries Report. Nationally, there was an increase of eleven more occupational fatalities reaching 130 in 2015 as compared to 2014 with New Jersey reporting two such fatalities. Additionally, of the 562 motor vehicle fatalities reported in New Jersey for the year 2015, eight were the result of motor vehicle crashes in work zones. When comparing motor vehicle fatalities from the previous year, New Jersey experienced a slight increase in overall fatalities with no change in fatality crashes occurring in work zones. For more information and a state-by-state comparison, go to: workzonesafety.org/crash-information
FHWA Announces Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Guidance
WASHINGTON – FHWA has announced new Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) guidance that can improve safety and mobility by accelerating the deployment of V2I communication systems. The guidance complements the Department of Transportation’s efforts to reduce crashes by advancing (Vehicle-to-Vehicle) V2V communication technology announced in a proposed rule in December.
“V2I will make our roads safer and save lives,” Secretary Foxx said. “This is an important step in deploying a connected vehicle environment.”
V2I communication is a critical component of a connected vehicle environment—a system of hardware, software, firmware and wireless communication that enables the dynamic transfer of data between vehicles as well as between vehicles and elements of the roadway infrastructure.
“In addition to improving safety, vehicle-to-infrastructure technology offers tremendous mobility and environmental benefits,” said FHWA Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “We took a big leap forward today by starting a national conversation about these topics, the future of V2I technologies and some of the bigger challenges facing us, such as privacy, security and interoperability.”
FHWA developed the V2I Guidance to assist transportation system owners/operators as they deploy V2I technology. The Guidance can help transportation agencies and tollway authorities understand what a decision to deploy V2I technology could mean to their region, prepare for emerging V2I/V2V technologies and leverage federal-aid funds to deploy them. The guidance is available at www.its.dot.gov/v2i.
Snow Plow Simulator Prepares Workers for Winter Conditions
As the winter season approaches, Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) is making sure their workers are ready to get behind the wheel in tough conditions with the help of a snow plow simulator.
“You can feel your plow pull, and you can’t stop,” Logan Allen, a mechanic for District 6 in Mullen, said. “It will turn you sideways.” Russ Daehling is the training instructor and curriculum developer for Nebraska Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) and he said this is basically your “Snow Plow 101.” Each person begins by running through a two to three-minute scenario to see if they will experience any case of motion sickness. Then, the road gets a little tougher. “Once these are done, each program we go through, has another difficulty of different situations that will come up while they’re snow plowing,” Daehling said.
The simulator is designed to give you the experience and practice of driving a snow plow, before actually going out on the interstate and handling it in a real storm.
The different courses range from country, town, to mountain plowing, with a variety of obstacles you may encounter along the way, such as passing vehicles, deer in the roadway, black ice, and much more.
“The trucks act a lot different with the plow down. They pull different. The simulation was very real. It felt like the road was slick,” Allen said.
Daehling said, “While they’re driving, we can throw different instances on this. We can have failure of the truck. We also can change the weather.”
See the whole story at www.knopnews2.com
OSHA Work Zone Traffic Safety Fact Sheet
Transportation incidents and workers struck by vehicles or mobile equipment account for the highest number of fatal work injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers such as emergency responders, clean-up, utility, demolition, construction, and others in areas where there are moving vehicles and traffic are exposed to being struck-by moving vehicles. Work zones are used to move traffic in an approved direction and are typically identified by signs, cones, barrels, and barriers. Keep this quick fact sheet on what you need keep track of in work zones, including signage, traffic control devices, lighting, and much more.
Winter Weather: Plan, Equip, Train
Although employers cannot control roadway conditions, they can promote safe driving behavior by ensuring workers recognize the hazards of winter weather driving, for example, driving on snow/ice covered roads; are properly trained for driving in winter weather conditions; and are licensed (as applicable) for the vehicles they operate. For information about driving safely during the winter, visit OSHA’s Safe Winter Driving page.
Employers should set and enforce driver safety policies. Employers should also implement an effective maintenance program for all vehicles and mechanized equipment that workers are required to operate. Crashes can be avoided. Learn more at: Motor Vehicle Safety (OSHA Safety and Health Topic’s Page).
Employers should ensure that properly trained workers inspect the following vehicle systems to determine if they are working properly:
- Brakes: Brakes should provide even and balanced braking. Also check that brake fluid is at the proper level.
- Cooling System: Ensure a proper mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water in the cooling system at the proper level.
- Electrical System: Check the ignition system and make sure that the battery is fully charged and that the connections are clean. Check that the alternator belt is in good condition with proper tension.
- Engine: Inspect all engine systems.
- Exhaust System: Check exhaust for leaks and that all clamps and hangers are snug.
- Tires: Check for proper tread depth and no signs of damage or uneven wear. Check for proper tire inflation.
- Oil: Check that oil is at proper level.
- Visibility Systems: Inspect all exterior lights, defrosters (windshield and rear window), and wipers. Install winter windshield wipers.
Work Zone Traffic Safety
Workers being struck by vehicles or mobile equipment lead to many work zone fatalities or injuries annually. Drivers may skid, or lose control of their vehicles more easily when driving on snow and/or ice-covered roads. It is therefore, important to properly set up work zones with the traffic controls identified by signs, cones, barrels, and barriers, to protect workers. Workers exposed to vehicular traffic should wear the appropriate high visibility vest at all times, so that they can be visible to motorists (OSHA Letter of Interpretation, dated, August 5, 2009).
Learn more at: Work Zone Traffic Safety* (OSHA QuickCard™) and Highway Work Zones and Signs, Signals, and Barricades (OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page).
Repairing Downed or Damaged Power Lines
Repairing and/or replacing damaged power lines in severe winter weather conditions are especially hazardous. A major hazard is snow, because the moisture can reduce the insulation value of protective equipment, and could cause electrocution. In these conditions, de-energized work is safer, but if energized work must be done, qualified workers and supervisors must first do a hazard analysis that includes evaluating the weather conditions and identifying how to safely do the job.
Other potential hazards include:
- Electrocution by contacting downed energized power lines, or contacting objects, such as broken tree limbs, in contact with downed energized power lines.
- Fires caused by an energized line or equipment failure.
- Being struck or crushed by falling tree limbs, collapsing poles, etc.
When working on downed or damaged power lines, electrical utility workers should use safe work practices, appropriate tools and equipment (including personal protective equipment (PPE)). Extra caution should be exercised when working in adverse weather conditions. Learn more at: Contact with Power Lines [https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/construction/electrical_incidents/mainpage.html#powerlines] (OSHA Construction eTool).
If You See Something, Say Something
When it comes to maintaining New Jersey’s infrastructure, the best reporting often comes from the people who use it every day. New Jersey has nearly 3,000 miles of state highways to maintain, with billions of vehicle miles traveled on them every year. New Jersey commuters are the first and best line of defense the state has when it comes to reporting roadway issues to NJDOT.
Safety is the first priority, and if you see potholes, tall grass, wildlife carcasses, traffic signage issues or any other maintence problems on a state highway, NJDOT has made it easy to report them right away. Simply fill out the online Pothole/Highway Maintenance Reporting form. You can select the roadway where the maintenance issue exists, the type of issue encountered, complete with other identifying characteristics to help NJDOT best approximate the location.
If you cannot find the road you are seeking to report on the drop-down list, it is potentially not part of the state highway system, and may fall under the county or turnpike’s authority. In this case, please report it to the appropriate county pothole hotline. Similarly, maintenance issues on the Garden State Parkway or the New Jersey Turnpike should be reported to the Turnpike Authority’s website.
If your vehicle has been damaged by a pothole that is listed under NJDOT’s interstate/route drop down menu, please contact the Department of Treasury’s Office of Risk Management.
Thank you helping keep New Jersey’s roadways safe for everyone.
Wrong Way Driving
According to the Application of Access Management Techniques near Interchange Areas, Wrong-way driving (WWD), by definition, occurs when a driver, either inadvertently or deliberately, drives in the opposing direction of traffic along a high-speed, physically divided highway or its access ramp. These crashes are known for their tendency for being more severe than other types of freeway crashes and result in more fatalities, due to being mostly head-on or opposite-direction sideswipe collisions. A recent inquiry of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database revealed that between 2004 and 2013, an average of 265 fatal WWD crashes occurred annually in the United States, resulting in 355 fatalities (NHTSA, 2017).
Previous studies (Zhou et al. 2012, Morena and Leix 2012) demonstrated that exit ramp terminals are the most likely locations for wrong-way drivers to enter a physically separated highway. Given this fact, exit ramps should be given special consideration for appropriate traffic control devices such as signage and pavement and geometric layouts such as raised medians to alleviate driver confusion and discourage wrong-way maneuvers. There are a number of reasons a driver may go in the wrong direction, including but not limited to driving under the influence of substances such as alcohol or drugs, fatigue, lack of experience, and an inappropriate geometric roadway design (Jalayer, 2017). Despite the fact that impaired driving accounts for more than 60 percent of WWD crashes, studies also explored that inconsistency in location, angle, and size of wrong-way-related traffic signs, lack of pavement markings/signage, and improper geometric design are contributing factors. Therefore, over the past few decades, different engineering countermeasures have been proposed, implemented and tested by various state departments of transportation and local agencies to mitigate WWD incidents. These countermeasures include changing the wrong-way related-traffic signs on size, location, and angle; proper use of conventional and innovative pavement markings; and implementing appropriate geometric design elements such as raised medians and channelizing islands; and application of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) (ATSSA, 2014).
Access management in the vicinity of an interchange area can have a significant impact on overall safety performance by reducing the potential WWD incidents involving exit ramps. Managing access can include a number of different types of countermeasures such as raised medians and channelizing islands to restrict turning movements at and near exit ramps where most wrong-way movements originate (Pour-Rouholamin, 2014). Raised medians that separate opposing directions of traffic along the crossroad are usually used to prevent wrong-way left turns onto exit ramps by providing a physical means of impeding this wrong-way maneuver.
The North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) identified a location in Dallas, Texas which involved a two-way side street in the vicinity of an exit ramp, along with a median opening. In this situation, drivers were able to make all movements to and from the side street, but the adjacent exit ramp left open the possibility of wrong-way turns, especially during nighttime conditions when traffic volumes are low, and driver confusions may be more likely. To address this issue, the NTTA worked very closely with the City of Dallas to acquire their support since the median modification project was within the City’s maintenance limit and would have implications for local access. The modified median now closely eliminates the possibility of the eastbound left-turning vehicles entering the exit ramp. An alternative opening was designed for those impacted vehicles to access the side street (ATSSA, 2014).
For more information, check out the resources on FHWA’s Intersection Safety page.
Figure 1 compares the geometric configurations before and after the median modification project. Following the completion of this project in 2011, the number of WWD incidents at this location, associated with median treatment, reduced from two in the before to zero in the after.
Figure 1. Before (left, 2009) and after (right, 2011) pictures of the modified median at Wycliff Avenue, TX. (Image courtesy ATSSA)