A ‘call to arms’ for states

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Iteris will be the exclusive North American commercial vehicle distributor of Delphi’s radar-based forward collision warning system under a new agreement between the two companies. Iteris, which also will be authorized to market Delphi’s Side Alert blind spot warning system, currently markets its own vision-based lane departure warning system.

Columbia River Crossing – also known as the Interstate 5 bridge between Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash. – received national priority status from the White House. The designation will help speed decision-making by officials while maintaining all federal and state environmental review requirements for the project, which has received $15 million in federal funding. The project is intended to reduce gridlock and improve safety problems on a five-mile stretch of I-5, which includes the Portland-Vancouver bridge.

Federal Railroad Administration has allocated more than $1 million to continue federal support of public education efforts aimed at reducing collisions between trains and motor vehicles at highway-rail grade crossings and discouraging illegal trespassing along railroad rights of way. The grant will help fund Operation Lifesaver, a national not-for-profit rail safety organization.

Arkansas Trucking Association recognized Jimmy Wallace, a driver for Stallion Transportation Group in Beebe, as its 2007 Driver of the Year. Wallace, 76, has logged more than 4 million accident-free miles and 30 consecutive years without a preventable accident.

Acting Federal Highway Administrator Jim Ray issued a “call to arms” on highway safety, urging state Departments of Transportation to adopt more coordinated, systemwide approaches to reduce crashes.

Each year, nearly 43,000 people – motorists, passengers and pedestrians – die on America’s roads. Though the fatality rate – 1.41 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled – is the lowest in the nation’s history, the number of fatalities has hovered at about the same point for nearly five years.

FHWA safety officials met with transportation officials and safety experts July 25 in a webinar as part of a new effort to improve roadway safety nationally. In it, the agency strongly recommended better use of nine tools that are key to reducing roadway fatalities each year:

 Roadway safety audits – State DOTs should formalize the use of these audits, which are comprehensive evaluations of existing or planned roads or intersections to identify potential safety improvements.

 Rumble strips and rumble stripes – Used in the centerline and shoulders, these cost-effective devices have shown demonstrable improvement in warning drivers of lane departure, reducing by 14 percent head-on collisions and opposite-direction sideswipe crashes. Shoulder rumble strips and stripes have shown a 38 percent reduction in run-off-road crashes on freeways.

 Median barriers – Used to separate opposing traffic on divided highways, these barriers have a long track record of reducing cross-median collisions.

 Safety Edge – This paving technique, giving a 30- to 35-degree slope to the road’s edge, reduces the risk to drivers if their tire inadvertently falls over an otherwise near-vertical road edge, leading to loss of vehicle control and rollover.

 Roundabouts – Have demonstrated a 60- to 87-percent reduction in crashes.

 Turning lanes at stop-controlled intersections – At intersections with significant turning volume, turning lanes for right- and left-turns on major road approaches can reduce crashes dramatically – in some cases, by as much as 55 percent.

 Yellow change intervals – Red-light running crashes at intersections, which too frequently result in fatalities, can be reduced by setting yellow-light signals properly.

 Medians and pedestrian refuge areas in urban and suburban areas – Raised medians or pedestrian refuge areas at pedestrian crossings at marked crosswalks have shown a 46 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes.

 Walkways – Ensuring a sidewalk or pathway exists near a roadway can reduce pedestrian crashes by as much as 88 percent.

To review FHWA’s new policy, go to https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/legislationandpolicy/.

Preventable or not: Doe’s day not exactly a hoot
It was a hot, sunny day when trucker John Doe arrived at the Hooters restaurant in Meridian, Miss. Surprising, Doe was less than thrilled to be there, because blindly backing his reefer trailer to the rollup door at the restaurant’s kitchen area always was a pain – and since Doe’s bosses were watching his truck’s every move via his in-cab computer, he knew he couldn’t stick around for too long.

Anyway, while consoling himself with a mouthful of Spicy Ranch Doritos, Doe’s day brightened immensely when he discovered that waitresses Bambi Bambooski and Raven Rolzolski would be helping to guide his approach to the kitchen door. Bambooski positioned herself to the right of Doe’s cab, while Rolzolski stood beside Doe’s window. Doe started to back his rig very slowly, keeping an eye on Rolzolski.

Unfortunately, Rolzolski suddenly was distracted by the faint sound of a ringing phone inside the kitchen door, and she stood motionless while waiting to see if someone would answer the call. Meanwhile, Doe backed into the door and bent its frame! Bambooski had been yelling frantically, pounding on Doe’s trailer and waving in an attempt to make him stop, but Doe’s attention had been riveted on Rolzolski. And both of Doe’s windows had remained closed to maintain the air-conditioned coolness of his cab, so he heard nothing.

Because Doe contested the preventable-accident warning letter from his safety director, the matter was turned over to the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee for a final decision. NSC upheld the “preventable” ruling, because Doe should have lowered his windows to listen for verbal warnings, and also kept an eye on Bambooski.