ROADS REPORT

Article December 28, 2000
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Safety stand down

The Arizona DOT (ADOT) held a statewide “Safety Stand Down” in May to emphasize safety for employees working along Arizona highways and for motorists who drive through work zones. The “Safety Stand Down” was geared to inform employees of techniques, precautions and awareness of potential hazards when working along the highway. More than 2,800 ADOT employees statewide participated in the safety program.

The death of Ken Mattox, a roadway maintenance employee, along the Beeline Highway and the dedication of an ADOT memorial in 1998 has elevated safety awareness among employees, according to Bill Higgins, deputy state engineer. The names of 28 ADOT employees who lost their lives in the line of duty are inscribed on the ADOT memorial at the Sunset Point Rest Area.

“Safety training and awareness is an investment in our greatest asset—people,” said Mary Peters, ADOT director. “The ‘Safety Stand Down’ represents our commitment to provide a safer working environment for employees and a safer traveling experience for drivers.”

Employees are being taught to identify hazards and use a variety of safety measures when working along Arizona highways. The training includes instruction on the use of ADOT equipment and techniques for setting up work zones. The training also covers human factors in driving and warning signs that can indicate impaired, drowsy or aggressive drivers.

New use for old rubber

According to Kansas State University Highway Research, about one-third of all highway fatalities each year happen when cars hit stationary objects. Many such fatalities could be averted if crash cushions were placed at trees, poles and guard rails. However, the cost is prohibitive using existing cushioning methods, the university said.

Two Kansas State University researchers have been taking a second look at an idea that bounced around 20 years ago: converting used tires into protective barriers. Their recent study was underwritten by the Mid-America Transportation Center, which provided a $20,000 grant, and the Kansas DOT, which provided a $10,000 grant.

The preliminary results show it would be feasible to use old scrap tires for this purpose, said civil engineering professor Mustaque Hossain. By conservative estimates, the state has from 4.7 million to 5.5 million scrap tires, and adds about 3 million tires a year. The engineering researchers have recommended to the Kansas DOT that the next stages of tire research—impact studies using a dummy vehicle—be completed and then crash tests using full-scale crash cushion prototypes made of tires be performed. Such tests would be carried out at Mid-America Transportation Center facilities at the University of Nebraska.

Sun habits exposed

Almost 70% of construction field workers spend more than six hours per day in the sun between May and September, according to a survey conducted by Job-Site Supervisor, a construction field management newsletter.

Of the 1,850 surveys mailed, responses were compiled from 316 surveys representing all types of contracting companies. Of those who responded, 55% work for general contractors, 40% work for subcontractors and 5% work for another type of construction company.

Protecting skin from the sun is a key factor in preventing sun damage. From the 460 responses in this protection category, survey results show personal protection equipment (PPE), such as UV clothing and UV sunglasses, is popular among field workers—45% reported that field workers use some form of PPE to protect themselves from the sun. However, not as many are slathering on sunscreen. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said field workers use sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun, 19% do not protect themselves from the sun, 5% limit their time in the sun, 1% receive yearly cancer screenings and 2% protect themselves in another way.

Half of the construction companies surveyed hold safety talks about the sun’s harmful effects, while 21% do nothing to warn workers about sun damage. Nineteen percent of companies provide sun-exposure literature for workers, 8% rely on personal protective equipment instructions and 2% inform workers about sun exposure through other means, such as company or insurance newsletters.

Speeding double standard

The TV show Inside Edition conducted an investigation on the driving behavior of those who sit on the bench and pass sentence on the driving skills of others—traffic court judges.

In February, they measured the speed of certain judges that had a reputation for being tough on speeders in Baltimore, Indianapolis and San Diego. Using radar and the services of a radar expert, the Inside Edition crew tracked certain judges and recorded their driving habits.

Many of the judges drove just like the people that end up in their courts, according to the National Motorists Association News. One of the judges was clocked by the crew at 73 mph in a 55 mph speed zone. The Inside Edition crew noted that he didn’t even use his directionals. Another judge was seen in traffic going 83 mph.

When questioned about their speeding habits, the judges claimed that if they were caught speeding, they would accept the charges and pay the ticket. Bo Dietl, a former New York City police detective, claimed that in 16 years of police work, he never observed an officer giving even one ticket to a judge, according to the report.

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