ROADS REPORT

Article December 28, 2000
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The good, the bad and the ugly

As the holidays are upon us, consider this tip from the nation’s travel experts: All roads are not created equal. Some highways tend to be a long string of potholes, while others are as manicured as a suburban lawn, according to a survey of U.S. truckers who, as a group, log nearly 200 billion highway miles annually.

Arkansas’ I-40 and I-30 are the worst roads in the nation, according to a third of the 1,115 truckers surveyed for Overdrive’s 10th annual "Best Roads/Worst Roads" survey. Truckers also identified Arkansas highways as worst overall. Next on the truckers’ worst-road list were I-10 in Louisiana; I-5 and I-10 tied in California; I-80 and I-78 in Pennsylvania; and I-94 in Illinois.

On the upside, the truckers acknowledged states that had made investments to their highway systems. The most improved list included: I-80/I-81 in Pennsylvania; I-20 in Louisiana; I-80 in Ohio; I-70 in Kansas; and I-94 in Illinois. Ironically, I-40 in Tennessee—Arkansas’ neighbor to the east—is the best road in the nation, according to the survey. Winning second best was I-75 in Florida, and third was I-75 in Georgia.

Of course, good maintenance isn’t everything. Truckers also held forth on the states with the worst drivers—California and Georgia tied for first, followed by New Jersey, then Illinois. The best rest stops are in Virginia, Georgia and a tie between Indiana and Pennsylvania, and the best scenery can be found in Wyoming, Pennsylvania then Oregon, according to the survey.

Giving back

Two transportation construction executives donated $100,000 to a national foundation to start the first-ever, national college scholarship program for the children of highway workers killed in the line of duty.

Stan Lanford, president and CEO of Lanford Brothers Co., and his brother, Jack, president and CEO, Adams Construction Co., recently announced the contribution to the ARTBA Transportation Development Foundation that will start two programs: The ARTBA-TDF Highway Worker Memorial Scholarship will award $2,500 annual grants to young scholars attending two- and four-year colleges and universities across the U.S., and a Transportation Construction Industry Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C., which will recognize men and women who have contributed to the transportation construction industry or advanced its goals in a significant manner.

Watching for drunk drivers

As you prepare to ring in the new millennium, you may be among the many who will drive to their New Year’s Eve destinations. But with all the celebrating that’s expected to accompany the special night, watching for signs of drivers who have had too much of the bubbly could save your life.

"There’s a misconception that if you drive on New Year’s Eve, you’re turning yourself into a helpless victim," said Phil Moser, a regional manager with Advanced Driver Training Services Inc. (ADTS). In reality, there are ways to spot and avoid drunk drivers on the road, said the company, which provides safety training for corporate drivers.

Most people are familiar with the obvious indications, like speeding, drifting across lanes and erratic braking. "But there are other telltale signs that should alert you that a driver might be drunk—and specific tactics you can use to stay out of harm’s way," said Moser, a former police officer and current ADTS instructor. If you’re planning to drive on New Year’s Eve, keep these tips in mind. Watch for high beams, and while many people might be tempted to flash a high-beaming car, it could distract the driver. Also, look for other headlight problems. Drunk drivers often travel with their headlights off or their parking lights on. Some turn on an interior light to adjust the heat or radio, then forget to turn the light off. If you spot these signs in an oncoming car, move to the right-hand lane as quickly and safely as possible. Never pass a driver you suspect is drunk. Keep your distance at intersections, putting at least three car lengths between you and the other driver.

Stop the madness

Road rage claimed a victim in a placid Alabama suburb recently when one woman pulled out a .38-caliber pistol and shot another woman in the head.

It began with a 25-mile drive from downtown Birmingham on I-65 with the two drivers jockeying for position during the rush hour commute. Witnesses indicated Gena Foster had cut off Shirley Henson and the two tailgated each other for miles with Foster, alternately getting ahead and slamming on the brakes. When both got off at what police said was their normal exit, Foster got out of her car and ran toward Henson’s Toyota 4Runner, which was stopped several feet behind her Pontiac Grand Prix. Moments later, Foster lay dying from a gunshot to the head.

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