Any person driving a school bus and approaching a
railroad-highway grade crossing shall stop within 50 feet but not less than 15
feet from the nearest rail of such railroad and shall not proceed until he or
she can do so safely when a highway sign is indicating that a train is
approaching or when the driver can hear or see an approaching train. Drivers of
commercial vehicles shall slow before crossing the tracks and check that the
tracks are clear of an approaching train.
If you’ve ever ridden a school bus as a kid, or even
driven behind one, you have probably seen that they stop at all railroad
tracks, even if the intersection has no train coming. The bus driver will stop,
open the window and the door, and believe it or not, listens before crossing.
If you needed to get somewhere and got caught behind
a bus during a bus crossing a railroad, you might feel like this a waste of
time, or at least like an overcautious safety measure. Like many traffic laws,
it was a tragedy that led to this extended safety measure. It all started back
to Sandy, Utah, on December 1, 1938, when the worst school bus accident in
United States history occurred.
A school bus carrying 39 students to Jordan High School in Sandy met head-on with a 50-car freight train during a raging blizzard. The train called, “The Flying Ute,” belonged to the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. It was heading north and was an hour late because of the blizzard conditions.
Farrold “Slim” Silcox, the 29-year-old
driver of the school bus. He stopped as required by an already existing law at
the railroad crossing of 300 West, slightly north of 10600 South. The blizzard
was blinding. “Visibility was zero. I can’t remember a storm worse than
that one,” said Andrus, who was a fifth-grader at the time and living in
nearby Draper. But since Silcox had crossed these tracks daily at this time for
the past three years and never encountered The Flying Ute, he proceeded across.
Traveling at 60 miles per hour, the train dragged
the school bus almost half a mile before it could stop. Twenty-five school kids
died, plus Slim Silcox. It remains the worst railroad crossing tragedy in U.S.
history. After that, in addition to having to stop at all railroad crossings,
the law required school bus drivers to open the door and their side window, and
listen, before proceeding.
For a time, a “lookout” was also required
— a student who would step off the bus and visually check down the tracks. This
practice has been abandoned because it put the lookout in jeopardy, but 71
years later, the “open door” policy is still in effect — even if, as
Andrus suggests, it isn’t always strictly adhered to.
Perhaps it is time for a bit of empirical evidence.
According to a study by
the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International,
Drivers neglect to use their turn signals
approximately 750 billion times per year.
Drivers neglect to use their turn signal 25% of
the time when making a turn.
Drivers neglect to use their turn signal 48% of
the time while changing lanes.
Drivers neglect to turn off their turn signals
48% of the time after changing lanes.
When people don’t use their turn signals, they are
contributing to an environment in which other drivers have less control. A turn
signal isn’t just a signal, it’s a warning. The use of a turn signal allows
other drivers to notice the change in their surroundings and react
appropriately. And if they’re decent people, they’re likely to react in a way
that benefits your own safety, perhaps by giving you adequate space to change
lanes on a busy highway.
Because of this behavior, the study concluded that the
number of yearly car crashes in the U.S. that can be attributed to this issue
is approximately two million, more than double the amount of crashes that are a
result of distracted driving (950,000). This means that nearly 20% of all
crashes in the U.S. occurred because one or more drivers failed to alert other
drivers to an upcoming turn or lane change.
No Matter if you are an aggressive driver or a passive
driver, want to drive 20 MPH over the speed limit or drive 5 MPH under the
speed limit there is proper driving etiquette everyone needs to follow. We have all seen the out of control driver that is
tailgating then passing dangerously close can be just as hazardous as the
vehicle driving far too slow for highway speeds.
If you are hauling a precarious load or aren’t comfortable driving at highway speed, then you need
to avoid the highway all together. Not
only are you a danger to yourself but to all other drivers on the highway too. Not following proper driving etiquette adds to traffic
congestion and backups; if everyone stays aware of their surroundings, road
conditions and follows the flow of traffic we all can arrive at our
destinations quicker and safer.
Passing Lane Not the “Fast” Lane
This is a touchy point with all drivers, and everyone has
their own opinion on what is acceptable driving speed in the left lane. The term “fast” lane is very subjective
and everyone’s definition of fast is different.
That is why the left lane is and should be referred to as the passing lane and
not the “fast” lane. This will put all confusion to rest as to what the
appropriate speed to travel in the left lane is.
The left lane(s) are used for passing, so if you are not passing a vehicle then
you should not be driving in the left lane.
After passing slower traffic you should return to the right lane as soon as you
Stay aware of other drivers and changing road conditions to
stay safe with ever present summer road construction.
Let’s all work
together to keep each other safe and moving fluidly on the highways this
summer, with road construction and quickly changing Wisconsin weather already impeding
us we don’t need any
more obstacles. Don’t be afraid to hit the highway this summer in your Toyota Camry and be
sure to follow proper driving etiquette.
Crashes are up by as much as 6 percent in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, compared with neighboring states that haven’t legalized marijuana for recreational use, new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) shows. The findings come as campaigns to decriminalize marijuana gain traction with voters and legislators in the U.S., and Canada begins allowing recreational use of marijuana this month.
The two new studies were presented at the Combating Alcohol- and Drug-Impaired Driving summit, hosted by IIHS and HLDI at the Vehicle Research Center. The summit brought together highway safety and law enforcement experts to discuss the prevalence and associated risk of alcohol- and drug-impaired driving, as well as strategies to combat impaired driving.
Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older with voter approval in November 2012. Retail sales began in January 2014 in Colorado and in July 2014 in Washington. Oregon voters approved legalized recreational marijuana in November 2014, and sales started in October 2015. Nevada voters approved recreational marijuana in November 2016, and retail sales began in July 2017.
HLDI analysts estimate that the frequency of collision claims per insured vehicle year rose a combined 6 percent following the start of retail sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, compared with the control states of Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. The combined-state analysis is based on collision loss data from January 2012 through October 2017.
Analysts controlled for differences in the rated driver population, insured vehicle fleet, the mix of urban versus rural exposure, unemployment, weather and seasonality.
Collision claims are the most frequent kind of claims insurers receive. Collision coverage insures against physical damage to a driver’s vehicle in a crash with an object or other vehicle, generally when the driver is at fault. Claim frequencies are expressed as the number of claims per 100 insured vehicle years. An insured vehicle year is one vehicle insured for one year or two vehicles insured for six months each.
A separate IIHS study examined 2012–16 police-reported crashes before and after retail sales began in Colorado, Oregon and Washington. IIHS estimates that the three states combined saw a 5.2 percent increase in the rate of crashes per million vehicle registrations, compared with neighboring states that didn’t legalize marijuana sales.
IIHS researchers compared the change in crash rate in Colorado, Oregon and Washington with the change in crash rates in the neighboring states that didn’t enact recreational marijuana laws. Researchers compared Colorado with Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah, and they compared Oregon and Washington with Idaho and Montana. The study controlled for differences in demographics, unemployment and weather in each state.
The size of the effect varied by state. Although the study controlled for several differences among the states, the models can’t capture every single difference. For example, marijuana laws in Colorado, Oregon and Washington differ in terms of daily purchase limits, sales taxes and available options for home growers. These differences can influence how often consumers buy marijuana, where they buy it and where they consume it.
The 5.2 percent increase in police-reported crash rates following legalization of recreational marijuana use is consistent with the 6 percent increase in insurance claim rates estimated by HLDI.
“The new IIHS-HLDI research on marijuana and crashes indicates that legalizing marijuana for all uses is having a negative impact on the safety of our roads,” says IIHS-HLDI President David Harkey. “States exploring legalizing marijuana should consider this effect on highway safety.”
Marijuana is still an illegal controlled substance under federal law.
In addition to the study states, Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and the District of Columbia also allow recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older and medical use of marijuana. Another 22 states allow medical marijuana, while 15 more states permit the use of specific cannabis products for designated medical conditions.
Legalization of recreational use is pending in New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. In November, Michigan and North Dakota will hold referendums on marijuana, and Missouri and Utah voters will decide whether to expand medical marijuana laws in their states.
Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in all 50 states and D.C., but determining impairment is challenging. Unlike alcohol, the amount of marijuana present in a person’s body doesn’t consistently relate to impairment. THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis. A positive test for THC and its active metabolite doesn’t mean the driver was impaired at the time of the crash. Habitual users of marijuana may have positive blood tests for THC days or weeks after using the drug.
Marijuana’s role in crashes isn’t as clear as the link between alcohol and crashes. Many states don’t include consistent information on driver drug use in crash reports, and policies and procedures for drug testing are inconsistent. More drivers in crashes are tested for alcohol than for drugs. When drivers are tested, other drugs are often found in combination with alcohol, which makes it difficult to isolate their separate effects.
“Despite the difficulty of isolating the specific effects of marijuana impairment on crash risk, the evidence is growing that legalizing its use increases crashes,” Harkey says.
Manipulating a cellphone was a contributing factor in more than
800 crash deaths on U.S. roads during 2017 amid a marked increase in the
percentage of drivers observed interacting with cellphones, new IIHS research
indicates. The estimated number of deaths, however, still represents a fraction
of the overall crash death toll.
Virginia drivers observed in a
2018 IIHS roadside survey were 57 percent more likely to be manipulating a
cellphone than drivers in a 2014 survey. The percentage of drivers observed manipulating
a phone rose from 2.3 percent in 2014 to 3.4 percent in 2018.
At the same time, drivers were
less likely to be seen simply holding a cellphone or talking on a hand-held
phone than in the prior survey. The finding is consistent with research indicating
that drivers are talking on hand-held phones less and fiddling with them more
often than in recent years.
In 2018, 3.7 percent of drivers
in Northern Virginia were observed talking on a hand-held cellphone, compared
with 4.1 percent of drivers in 2014, while 2.8 percent of drivers in 2018 were
seen holding a cellphone, compared with 4.9 percent in the prior survey.
The problem of distracted
driving, especially cellphone use, continues to raise concerns. A 2018 national
survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 64 percent of
respondents consider distracted driving a much bigger problem today than it was
three years ago.
Estimating crash risk
About 37,000 people died in
motor vehicle crashes in 2017, the most recent year of data available. Assuming
the prevalence of phone manipulation nationwide rose as it did in Northern
Virginia to 3.4 percent, and assuming, based on the latest research, that fatal
crash risk is 66 percent higher when manipulating a phone, then more than 800
of the estimated crash deaths in 2017 could be attributed to phone
This estimate is based on work by IIHS and other researchers
describing how the estimated risk and prevalence of phone use can be combined
to estimate the number of crash deaths that could be attributed to phone use in
a given year (see Status Report special issue: phoning while driving, Feb. 27,
2010). The 66 percent increase in fatal crash risk associated with manipulating
a cellphone relative to driving when other secondary behaviors were present is
a finding of a 2018 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
“The latest data suggest
that drivers are using their phones in riskier ways,” says David Kidd, who
co-authored the study and is a senior research scientist with HLDI. “The
observed shift in phone use is concerning because studies consistently link
manipulating a cellphone while driving to increased crash risk.”
Cellphone use affects how
drivers scan and process information from the roadway. Drivers generally take
their eyes off the road to dial, send texts and browse the web on a hand-held
phone — all activities that fall under the rubric of manipulating the phone.
Drivers engaged in cellphone conversations tend to concentrate their gaze
toward the center of the roadway, but their attention still may be diverted
from driving and make it difficult for them to process what they are looking
Tracking trends in distraction
Procedures for the 2018 update followed those used in 2014 (see “Distracting
behaviors are common at red lights, less so at roundabouts,”
March 31, 2015). IIHS stationed observers at 12 locations across four Northern
Virginia communities, on straight stretches of roads, at signalized
intersections and at roundabouts in March 2018. Observers noted nearly 12,000
drivers in the 2018 survey and more than 14,000 drivers in 2014 during the
morning, afternoon or early evening on weekdays. Researchers noted if drivers
were engaging in one or more of 12 visible secondary behaviors while moving or
stopped at red lights.
About 23 percent of drivers
were engaged in one or more distracting activities:
Talking on hand-held cellphone
cellphone (excludes looking at phone in mount)
Simply holding hand-held
cellphone (i.e. not obviously manipulating or talking)
Wearing Bluetooth earpiece or
headset with mic
Wearing headphones or ear buds
Manipulating in-vehicle system
(touching radio, climate control, touchscreen display or other controls;
excludes operating stalks or buttons on steering wheel)
Manipulating or holding mobile
electronic device other than cellphone
Talking or singing
Eating or drinking
Other (reaching for object,
reading print material, adjusting sun visor, putting on glasses, holding
“When people talk about
distracted driving, most often cellphones are the focus, but drivers are
distracted by other secondary behaviors more often than cellphones,” Kidd
points out. “Things as simple as drinking coffee or talking to your kids
can take your attention away from the road.”
About 14 percent of drivers
were engaged in nonphone-related secondary behaviors in 2014 and 2018, which
exceeded the proportion of drivers seen using phones in both years. Relative to
2014, drivers were more likely to be observed manipulating an in-vehicle
system, grooming themselves, or manipulating or holding an electronic device
other than a phone after researchers adjusted for community, perceived driver
gender and age, time of day and roadway situation.
Drivers in 2018 were less
likely to be talking or singing while driving alone, smoking, or wearing
headphones or earbuds. The prevalence of eating or drinking, talking or singing
with a passenger present, wearing a Bluetooth device, or engaging in some other
visible secondary behavior wasn’t significantly different between 2014 and
“We didn’t find evidence
of an increase in distracted driving overall between the 2014 and 2018 roadside
surveys,” Kidd says. “For cellphone-related distraction in general,
we expect a continued shift in the way people interact with the devices as the
The percentage of crash deaths
related to distraction in recent years has hovered at about 8–10 percent of all
crash deaths, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
show. During the past three years, distraction-affected crash deaths have
trended downward. The number of fatalities in distraction-affected crashes fell
9.3 percent from 3,490 in 2016 to 3,166 in 2017, representing 8.5 percent of
total fatalities for the year. In 2015, 3,526 people were killed in
Fatality data likely
underestimate the number of deaths caused by distracted drivers. Despite
efforts to determine cellphone use by drivers in crashes, such data continue to
be difficult to collect as they largely depend on people truthfully telling law
enforcement officers what they were doing or voluntarily handing over their
phones for inspection.
In large cities every day, bustling sidewalks practically overflow with
pedestrians rushing to their various destinations, while in small towns and
other low-population areas, you may see only a few people waiting to cross a
street at a time. Regardless of the setting, pedestrians are always at risk for
injury. Any public area can pose dangers to pedestrians, including traffic
accidents, construction sites, inclement weather, and infrastructure defects.
The chance of an accident occurring in high-traffic intersections and roadways
where motor vehicles are operated can be more a question of “when” than “if.”
The difference between being well-advised and not can save your life if a
crisis or an emergency should occur.
Please review the following points to help you act safely
and responsibly as a pedestrian:
ALWAYS be on the lookout for pedestrians,
especially at intersections and in areas of high traffic, such as city centers,
near playgrounds and in school zones.
Remember that pedestrians are the most
vulnerable road users and are much more likely to suffer serious injury or
death in a crash than someone in a vehicle.
Pedestrians, along with
bicyclists, motorcyclists and moped riders, can be more difficult to see
because of their size. Give them extra room especially when visibility is
limited, such as at night, or in bad weather.
Never attempt to pass a vehicle that has stopped
to allow a pedestrian to cross.
If you see a pedestrian
with a white cane or guide dog, avoid honking the horn or revving the engine.
These noises are distracting and cover important audible cues used by the
blind. Also avoid blocking designated crosswalks. This makes it especially
difficult for a visually impaired or blind person to cross the street.
Use crosswalks or paths whenever possible. Look
both ways twice and make eye contact with drivers.
Avoid distracted walking. Don’t let your devices
prevent you from paying attention to your surroundings.
Wear clothing that makes it easier to be seen.
Bright colors are best during the day, while reflective clothing should be worn
This once-a-year showcase is a unique opportunity to meet the greater TraffiCalm team face to face and to see how we are engineering solutions to address industry problems. Come experience how our products are addressing pedestrian safety, slowing drivers, and calming dangerous driving behavior. With flexibility and design (such as solar integration) Every road can benefit from what we have developed, we’d love to show you how! On display will be our driver feedback signs, LED illuminated, flashing street signs (stop, warning, yield, pedestrian crossing, etc.), our wrong way mitigation solution, and so much more!
ATSSA’s Annual Convention & Traffic Expo is the premier event for nearly 3,500 roadway safety professionals and transportation officials from across the USA and around the globe. The convention brings together business leaders, government officials, manufacturers, corporate roadway department personnel and all manner of people involved in nearly every aspect of roadway safety.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida could outlaw drivers from putting on makeup, holding a cellphone, reading or performing other distracting activities under a bill unanimously approved by a Senate committee.
Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee approved the measure after
heart-wrenching testimony from parents whose children that have been killed in
accidents caused by districted drivers.
Wilton Simpson said distracted driving has become an epidemic in Florida, and
not just involving cars hitting other cars.
hiking, jogging – all of those things – we’ve had record numbers of deaths in
this state by distracted driving,” Simpson said.
Right now, it is
illegal to text and drive in Florida, but drivers can only be ticketed if they
are first pulled over for another reason. Simpson’s bill would make distracted
driving a primary offense, meaning law enforcement wouldn’t need another reason
to ticket a driver. If enacted, Florida would ease into the law by creating a
three-month period where law enforcement would only give warnings. After Dec.
1, police would be able to issue tickets.
cellphone use would be allowed, and drivers would be able to check their phones
as long as their cars aren’t moving, such as at a stop light or while idling in
a parking lot.
officers would also have to record the race and ethnicity of ticketed drivers
and an annual report would have to be given to the governor, House speaker and
Senate president. Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy asked for that provision to be
included due to concerns that a distracted driving ban could be used for racial
Several parents who
lost children in accidents urged the committee to approve the bill. Debbie
Wanninkhof said her 25-year-old son, Patrick, died in an accident caused by a
driver using a cellphone.
“We need to
wake up to the danger of wireless communication device addicts,” she said.
“Cellphone use … is an addiction for many. You hear the stimulus of a
ping and you immediately grab the phone and you respond instantly. It happens
over and over again, and just like a drug addiction, it can be deadly.”
The Senate bill has been unanimously approved in its first two of four committee stops. A similar House bill hasn’t been heard in committee yet, but House sponsor Rep. Jackie Toledo said House Speaker Jose Oliva has promised it will get a hearing.
More children have been hit by cars while waiting for a school bus, this time in Florida and Pennsylvania. That makes six accidents at school bus stops in three days across the country.
According to station WTSP, five children and two adults were all hit by a car while waiting at a school bus stop in Tampa. Three of the children were 6 years old, one was 9 and the other was 12. The adults were both in their early 30s. All the people hit by the car were hospitalized AND two children remained in the hospital, according to WTSP. Investigators say the 47-year-old Tampa man driving the car that hit the group did not seem impaired at the time of the incident.
Also, a 7-year-old child was found on the ground with fatal injuries by a school bus driver at a bus stop in Pennsylvania. Tyrone Area School District Superintendent Cathy Harlow said on Facebook that the apparent hit-and-run happened before school. She also said, “the bus driver on route arrived at the stop discovering the situation, contacted 911 and remained at the scene until first-responders arrived.” State police
are still looking for the driver, according to NBC 10.
An 11-year-old and a 13-year-old were hit in Louisville, Kentucky around 6:30 a.m. The two young brothers were hit by an unknown driver while crossing a busy intersection. Kentucky police are still looking for the driver.
Two other incidents happened in Florida and Mississippi. Twin boys and their big sister were hit by a car while boarding a school bus in Indiana. A fourth child was struck as well. Xzavier and
Mason Ingle, both 6, and Alivia Stahl, 9, were pronounced dead at the scene of
the crash in Fulton County. The fourth child, 11-year-old Maverik Lowe, was
airlifted to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne with life-threatening injuries.
Sgt. Tony Slocum of the Indiana State Police said that the Tippecanoe Valley School corporation students were hit by a pick-up truck even though the bus was stopped with its lights flashing and its “STOP” arm extended. The pickup truck’s driver, 24-year-old Alyssa Shepherd, was arrested at her job just after 4 p.m., Indiana State Police said in a news release. Shepherd remained at the scene after the crash and cooperated with investigators. Her blood test did not indicate that alcohol or drugs played a factor, according to Gannett. Shepherd was charged with multiple felony counts of reckless homicide and one misdemeanor count of passing a school bus when an arm signal device is extended, causing bodily injury, court records show.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were about 1,300 people killed in school transportation-related accidents between 2006 and 2015. About 100 of those victims were classified as school-age pedestrians. 64 percent
of the children killed were stuck by a bus or a vehicle serving as a bus, while
36 percent were hit by other vehicles, the administration said.
these were your children or family members? It’s up to each one of us to ensure
our children make it to school and back safely. Remove distractions from your driving
and pay attention to what’s happening all around you. These kids are victims because
drivers are putting on makeup, holding a cellphone, reading or performing
other distracting activities. None of these reasons is worth a life.
After two years of marked
increases, the number of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. is holding steady with
nearly 6,000 pedestrians killed in
2017, according to estimates from the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Most crashes involving pedestrians occur at non-intersections. Crossing
Most of us cross streets every day. We are all pedestrians
at one time or another, and we take for granted that we can cross without
incident because, most of the time, we do. But sometimes we aren’t so
Nationally, each year about 6,000 pedestrians die and 70,000
are injured in traffic accidents. Young children and the elderly are more
likely to be killed or injured in a pedestrian crash than any other group.
While it’s easy to blame drivers, they are not always responsible for these
accidents. All too often, pedestrians are the cause of accidents.
These senseless tragedies don’t have to happen. Review this
advice for safe street crossing to avoid potential injuries—and even death.
Always follow these steps when crossing a street:
Before crossing, stop at the curb, edge of the
road or corner before proceeding.
Look left-right-left and over
your shoulder for turning vehicles. If it’s clear, begin crossing.
Continue to check for traffic while crossing.
At intersections with traffic lights and pedestrian signals, it’s important to follow the signals carefully. Locate and press the crosswalk button, wait until you see the WALK signal and follow the rules for crossing. Always stow your cellphone when crossing the street and keep your head up.
A flashing DON’T WALK signal indicates you shouldn’t start to cross the street. However, if you are in the middle of the street and the DON’T WALK signal starts flashing, continue walking; you have time to complete the crossing.
If you see a steady DON’T WALK signal, don’t begin to cross the street! Wait for the next WALK signal. The WALK signal and the green traffic light indicate that it’s your turn to cross the street, but they do not mean it is safe to cross. The WALK signal and the green light mean: Look both ways, and then if it’s safe, go. Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you as you cross.
At night, wear light colors and walk where the streetlights will illuminate you.
Be sure to stop before the crosswalk. This is a no-car zone.
When the light turns green, go slow, check your surroundings and proceed with caution. Make eye contact with pedestrians to ensure it’s safe to continue through the intersection.
At night, reduce your ground-speed. Always turn on your headlights when visibility is low and use your turn signal to let others know where you’re heading.
Pavement Markings Are Your Road Map to Safely Crossing
While they won’t protect pedestrians from oncoming traffic,
crosswalks do serve to guide pedestrians across the street. Motorists are
reminded to look for and to yield to pedestrians in the road when they see the
bright, white lines of a crosswalk.