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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 73 · No. 6 > Along the Road

May/June 2010
Vol. 73 · No. 6

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-10-004

Along the Road

Along the Road is the place to look for information about current and upcoming activities, developments, trends, and items of general interest to the highway community. This information comes from U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) sources unless otherwise indicated. Your suggestions and input are welcome. Let's meet along the road.

Management and Administration

ITS Strategic Plan Sets Stage for Next 5 Years

USDOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration recently released a 5-year intelligent transportation systems (ITS) strategic research plan for 2010-2014. The plan explores the potentially transformative capabilities of wireless technology to make surface transportation safer, smarter, and greener, and ultimately enhance livability for Americans.

ITS Strategic Research Plan 2010-2014 Cover

At the core of the research plan is a program called IntelliDriveSM, a multimodal initiative that uses wireless communications to provide connectivity between vehicles, between vehicles and roadway infrastructure, and among vehicles, infrastructure, and wireless consumer devices. Researchers will examine how to deliver warnings to motorists to enhance overall safety and minimize driver distraction. The research plan also provides funding for technology transfer and training for ITS professionals.

To view the strategic plan, visit www.its.dot.gov/strat_plan.

FHWA Revises Rules to Make Highways Safer

In December 2009, USDOT released a comprehensive update to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) since 1971, the MUTCD is the national standard for all traffic control devices, including signs, pavement markings, signals, and any other devices used to regulate, warn, or guide traffic. Ensuring uniformity of traffic control devices across the Nation -- from their messages and placement to their sizes, shapes, and colors -- helps to reduce crashes and traffic congestion. This is the first comprehensive update to the manual since 2003.

The following are among the new provisions in the 2009 edition:

  • Replacing highway signs with brighter, larger, and more legible ones that are easier to understand at freeway speeds. States should begin using the newer signs as existing ones wear out.
  • Changing the formula used to calculate crosswalk times to give walkers more time.
  • Identifying electronic toll collection requirements on signs using the color purple -- the first time purple has been sanctioned for use on highway signs.

Most changes are a result of extensive research; however, several changes stem from recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board. States must adopt the 2009 MUTCD as their legal State standard for traffic control devices within 2 years.

For more information, visit http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov.

Technical News

New Resources Cover FWD Calibration Procedures

Falling weight deflectometers (FWDs), used to conduct structural testing for pavement, require careful calibration to ensure their effectiveness in the field. In 2009, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) published new guidelines for calibrating FWDs: AASHTO R 32-09, Standard Recommended Practice for Calibrating the Load Cell and Deflection Sensors for a Falling Weight Deflectometer. The new guidelines are the result of years of enhancements made to the calibration procedures by FHWA's Long Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) program in collaboration with State highway agencies. Researchers now can use the new guidelines at all FWD calibration centers across the country for projects supported by the LTPP program and other pavement-related research. To help transportation professionals learn the new FWD calibration procedure, FHWA recently produced a report and video on the topic.

A new FHWA report and video explain how to calibrate FWDs, such as the one shown here.
A new FHWA report and video explain how to calibrate FWDs, such as the one shown here.

The report, FWD Calibration Center and Operational Improvements: Redevelopment of the Calibration Protocol and Equipment (FHWA-HRT-07-040), provides information on how the new FWD calibration procedure was developed and how to calibrate an FWD according to the new procedure. The report compares the old and new procedures and explains the updates and improvements, and is available at www.pooledfund.org by searching under study number TPF-5(039).

The related video, "Calibrating the Falling Weight Deflectometer," demonstrates the new procedure, explains the preparations needed to perform a successful calibration, and describes how calibration improves the quality of back-calculated data and the impact on overlay design. The video is available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/pavement/ltpp/index.cfm.

For more information, contact Jane Jiang, FHWA highway research engineer, at 202-493-3149 or jane.jiang@dot.gov.

Improved Software Helps Build Better Concrete Pavements

FHWA recently released an updated version of its High Performance Concrete Paving (HIPERPAV®) software called HIPERPAV III. First developed in 1996 and then updated with the release of HIPERPAV II in 2005, the free software is a simulation tool for determining the early age (that is, during the first 72 hours following placement) behavior of portland cement concrete pavement. Available for download at www.hiperpav.com, the software was designed for use by State and local highway agencies, contractors, suppliers, researchers, and academia.

Improvements in HIPERPAV III make the software even more robust and user friendly, including enhanced temperature predictions for the heat of hydration. With the new moisture modeling features, users can more realistically compare the effect of various curing strategies and environmental conditions, resulting in improved predictions of critical stresses, material strengths, and drying shrinkage. Other new features include a batch mode that enables users to analyze several strategies at once, a quick-compare tool that can be used to view the differences between up to four strategies simultaneously, and a sensitivity comparisons tool that helps users discern differences in the effects of environmental, design, materials, and construction variables on strength gain, stress development, and cracking risk.

For more information or to obtain a copy on CD, contact Fred Faridazar, highway research engineer with FHWA's Office of Infrastructure Research and Development, at 202-493-3076 or fred.faridazar@dot.gov.

Here, WSDOT installed a guardrail that measures 31 inches (79 centimeters) high.
Here, WSDOT installed a guardrail that measures 31 inches (79 centimeters) high.

Washington State Studies Guardrail Height

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recently evaluated whether a clear correlation exists between guardrail height and penetration of the guardrail by vehicles. Specifically, WSDOT reviewed datasets available for Washington State and explored whether guardrails with heights of 27 inches (68.6 centimeters) and lower experience more through, over, or under penetrations than those measuring 28 inches (71.1 centimeters) and higher.

WSDOT researchers used a total of 10.25 years of collision data from 1999 through the first quarter of 2009. The data included 1,806 collisions recorded by the WSDOT Transportation Data Office. Overall, the researchers found no clear trends or indicators that the studied guardrail heights reduce or increase the number of collisions. WSDOT explains its methodology and detailed findings in the report Through, Over, or Under Guardrail Penetration by Guardrail Height (WA-RD 742.1).

For more information or to download the report, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/reports/fullreports/742.1.pdf.

WSDOT

Public Information and Information Exchange

Now Available: Screening Tool for Senior Drivers

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has developed a free online screening tool designed to measure the physical and mental abilities shown to be the strongest predictors of crash risk among older drivers. Roadwise ReviewTM Online: A Tool to Help Seniors Drive Safely Longer provides feedback to users about their ability to continue driving safely.

Developed by AAA and transportation safety researchers, the Roadwise Review tool gives seniors and their family members an opportunity to assess an older driver's eight necessary functional abilities: leg strength and general mobility, head/neck flexibility, high-contrast visual acuity, low-contrast visual acuity, working memory, visualization of missing information, visual search, and visual information processing speed. The tool leads the user through a series of screening exercises, such as a timed walking evaluation that measures general mobility. The software then uses an integrated data system that provides users with confidential feedback about screening results.

Roadwise Review is based on research sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Institute on Aging that indicates individuals who exceed measured levels of decline in key safe driving predictors are 2-5 times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle crash.

To access the screening tool, visit www.seniordrivers.org or www.aaaseniors.com.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Transportation TV Covers Industry Highlights

In 2009, AASHTO launched "Transportation TV" as part of a national marketing campaign to generate dialogue on the importance of preserving and modernizing the Nation's transportation system. Transportation TV provides online video content about the industry.

Shown here is a screen capture from Roadwise Review, an online self-assessment tool that helps older drivers assess abilities deemed critical to safe driving.
Shown here is a screen capture from Roadwise Review, an online self-assessment tool that helps older drivers assess abilities deemed critical to safe driving.

As of early 2010, the site had logged more than 24,000 page visits to view nearly 100 videos posted on the site. The Web site features weekly newscasts on current transportation issues and special reports on topics such as the Car Allowance Rebate System (also known as "Cash for Clunkers") and the 2009 National Roadway Safety Awards.

Available exclusively at www.transportationtv.org, Transportation TV offers six distinct channels: Transportation TV News, The Briefing Room, View from the Hill, View from the Administration, Transportation TV State to State, and Transportation 101. Together, these channels offer State and national news, insights, and analysis from transportation decisionmakers, members of Congress, and State DOTs.

For more information, visit www.transportationtv.org.

AASHTO

FHWA, Oklahoma State University Study Motorcycle Crashes

Despite years of steady improvement in highway safety and historically low numbers of roadway fatalities, motorcycle riders remain one of the highest risk groups on U.S. roadways. Nearly 5,300 motorcycle riders died in roadway crashes in 2008, accounting for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, and 96,000 were injured. As one approach to improving safety, researchers at FHWA and the Oklahoma State University are conducting a new study to improve the highway community's understanding of the causes of motorcycle crashes.

Required by a provision in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, the motorcycle crash causation study will be the Federal Government's first major indepth analysis of motorcycle safety in nearly three decades. Researchers will evaluate data from hundreds of motorcycle crashes to identify common factors, such as road configurations, environmental conditions, and rider experience. The study will look at how these factors might be affected by countermeasures that, if implemented, could prevent or reduce the severity of motorcycle crashes.

Missouri Increases Number of Rest Areas and Truck Parking Spaces

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) continues to add to the State's inventory of rest areas and parking facilities, even while other States close theirs. In addition, the number of parking spaces for trucks increased from 587 to 853 between 2002 and 2009, a 45 percent jump. MoDOT cites safety for commercial motor vehicle drivers and the public as motivation for increasing the number of rest areas and availability of truck parking.

According to one MoDOT official, "MoDOT understands that for professional drivers to perform at their best, good rest is important. Truck drivers work long days and deserve places along our roadways to park, relax, and feel safe."

Two welcome centers and more converted truck parking areas will create an additional 146 spaces in 2010. According to MoDOT, the increase in parking spaces is vital for truck drivers who, under Federal law, must leave the road and rest once they record a 10- to 11-hour workday.

MoDOT

EPA Updates Mobile Source Emissions Model

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released the final version of its Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) model. MOVES2010 is a tool to help estimate air pollution from cars, trucks, and other mobile sources. The model also can calculate the emissions reduction benefits from a range of mobile source control strategies, such as inspection and maintenance programs and local fuel standards.

MOVES2010 replaces EPA's previous model for mobile source emissions, MOBILE6.2. According to EPA, MOVES2010 is a significant improvement over its predecessor for estimating greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. EPA will publish a Federal Register notice of availability in the near future to approve MOVES2010 for meeting official State implementation plans and transportation conformity requirements. EPA intends to provide a 2-year grace period for using MOVES2010 for purposes of transportation conformity.

FHWA and EPA are planning a series of Web conferences and hands-on training sessions focused on MOVES2010. To be notified about upcoming training, sign up for the EPA-MOBILENEWS listserv at www.epa.gov/otaq/models/mobilelist.htm.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/otaq/models/moves/index.htm.

Measuring Progress in Linking Planning and the Environment

FHWA's Planning and Environment Linkages program developed a resource to assist transportation agencies in creating programs to evaluate success in integrating transportation planning and environmental analysis. The document, A Guide to Measuring Progress in Linking Transportation Planning and Environmental Analysis, helps agencies address complex social, economic, and environmental challenges early in the planning process and minimize impacts on natural and cultural resources.

An integrated approach to transportation planning recognizes the ongoing need for State and local governments to link their transportation planning with the planning processes of natural and cultural resource agencies. This approach enables planners and the public to consider the costs and benefits of decisions in a comprehensive manner.

Traditionally, transportation agencies measured performance based only on system conditions or operations, such as accessibility, mobility, safety, and operational efficiency. To date, many agencies have underutilized measures to track successes on other goals, such as integrated transportation planning and environmental streamlining and stewardship.

For more information or to download the guide, visit http://environment.fhwa.dot.gov/integ/meas_progress.asp.

Now Available: Safety Materials in Spanish

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) now offers Spanish language pedestrian and bicycling safety materials -- downloadable resources and classroom curriculum -- to teach Hispanic adults safe behaviors to prevent traffic-related fatalities and injuries when walking and bicycling. Hispanic immigrants often rely on walking and bicycling as their primary means of transportation, but some are unfamiliar with U.S. traffic signs, signals, and practices, putting them at higher risk of being involved in crashes.

For adults in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, NHTSA developed a pedestrian and bicycling safety curriculum for teachers. Designed with the understanding that ESL teachers use real-life applications to teach adults, this curriculum, in English, includes two modules on the basic principles of pedestrian and bicycle safety. Each module includes a teacher's guide and student workbook for an intermediate-level student.

NHTSA's downloadable materials include posters, brochures, and radio public service announcements. NHTSA intends for local, State, and national traffic safety advocates to use the materials to help educate Hispanic immigrants on pedestrian and bicycle safety in the United States.

For more information and to download the materials, visit www.nhtsa.gov/links/ped_bike_sp.html. For printed copies, send a fax to 301-386-2194 with your name, address, phone number, and preferred number of copies (up to 25 maximum for each). For additional information, contact paula.bawer@dot.gov.

NHTSA

NHTSA offers pedestrian safety materials in Spanish, such as this poster that advises pedestrians to be alert and follow the signals.
NHTSA offers pedestrian safety materials in Spanish, such as this poster that advises pedestrians to be alert and follow the signals.
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