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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-14-004    Date:  May/June 2014
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-14-004
Issue No: Vol. 77 No. 6
Date: May/June 2014


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

FHWA Celebrates Groundbreaking of Houston Bike/Pedestrian Trails

Acting Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez recently participated in the groundbreaking for the Houston Regional Bike/Ped Connections to Transit project. The $30 million effort, which includes funding from a $15 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant and $800,000 in other Federal funds, will improve mobility and provide visitors to the downtown area with safer shared-use paths, sidewalks, and walkways. Acting Deputy Secretary Mendez was joined at the event by Texas Representatives Gene Green and Sheila Jackson Lee, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and other State and local officials.

USDOT Acting Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez (second from left) joined Texas State and local officials for the groundbreaking of the Houston Regional Bike/Ped Connections to Transit project.
USDOT Acting Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez (second from left) joined Texas State and local officials for the groundbreaking of the Houston Regional Bike/Ped Connections to Transit project.

The project includes 11 miles (18 kilometers) of sidewalks, 10 miles (16 kilometers) of onstreet bikeways, 7 miles (11 kilometers) of paths, and 6 miles (10 kilometers) of pedestrian enhancements. These upgrades will eliminate major gaps in primary offstreet bicycle and pedestrian routes and better connect people to employment centers and bus and rail transportation. The city also will install new directional signs and improve pedestrian amenities by installing benches, bike racks, waste receptacles, lighting, and landscaping. The project also involves construction of an electric shuttle path between two campuses of the University of Houston. The city expects to complete the project by January 2015.

The highly competitive TIGER grant program offers one of the only Federal funding possibilities for multimodal projects that often are not suitable for funding from other Federal sources. USDOT has received applications requesting more than $114.2 billion for transportation projects across the country. In total, the Department has provided more than $3.6 billion in TIGER funds to 270 projects spanning all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

USDOT Ranks #8 in Best Places to Work

USDOT moved up one spot from the previous year in the rankings for Best Places to Work among large government agencies in 2013, according to the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. The move continues a dramatic improvement since 2009, when the department received its lowest score in the last 10 years and fell to the bottom of the large agency rankings. Within USDOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) achieved its highest ranking to date among agency subcomponents at number 5 out of 300.

For more information about the Partnership for Public Service and the rankings for Best Places to Work in the Federal Government®, visit www.bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/about.

FHWA Offers Incentives for Adopting Innovations

A new FHWA program offers resources to State Transportation Innovation Councils (STICs) to support their efforts to mainstream innovations for highway programs, including those under the Every Day Counts initiative.

STICs, led by the highway agency head and FHWA division administrator in each State, have been instrumental in bringing together transportation stakeholders to identify and implement Every Day Counts innovations. The stakeholders include members from local agencies, regulatory agencies, Local and Tribal Technical Assistance Programs, metropolitan planning organizations, and industry.

FHWA’s STIC Incentive Program offers technical assistance and funds--up to $100,000 per STIC per year--to offset the costs of standardizing innovative practices in a State transportation agency or other public sector STIC stakeholder. The incentive funds are applied toward the 80-percent Federal share required to fund these transportation projects. The remaining non-Federal match must come from project sponsors or other allowable funding sources.

STIC incentives can be used for a variety of activities, including developing technical guidance and standards, implementing changes in system processes, organizing peer exchanges, delivering training, and offsetting the costs of deploying innovations. The application process involves submitting a short document to the State FHWA division office with a description of the proposed work, amount of funds requested, project schedule, other committed funding sources, and the public entity responsible for administering the project.

To submit an application, contact information is available at https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/foisp/keyFieldFederalAidDivisions.do.

Public Information and Information Exchange

2013 National Roadway Safety Awards

Since 1998, FHWA has joined with the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF) biennially to recognize innovative, efficient roadway safety projects and programs that sharply reduce highway deaths across the country. At the 2013 National Roadway Safety Awards ceremony in Washington, DC, FHWA and RSF presented 11 awards and 1 honorable mention. Recipients included State and local departments of transportation, a State department of public safety, university programs, and a private firm.

The 2013 National Roadway Safety Award winners pose with RSF Executive Director Gregory M. Cohen (far left) and then USDOT Deputy Secretary John D. Porcari (center, in yellow tie).
The 2013 National Roadway Safety Award winners pose with RSF Executive Director Gregory M. Cohen (far left) and then USDOT Deputy Secretary John D. Porcari (center, in yellow tie).

A panel of judges evaluates the applicants on innovation, effectiveness, and efficient use of resources. Awards are presented in three categories: infrastructure improvements; operational improvements; and program planning, development, and evaluation. The 2013 award-winning projects included a range of safety initiatives such as high-friction pavement treatments on horizontal curves, inexpensive nighttime inspection kits to improve rural signage, and automated infrared cameras to inspect commercial vehicle brake systems.

RSF Executive Director Gregory M. Cohen served as master of ceremonies and then USDOT Deputy Secretary John D. Porcari delivered the keynote address, highlighting the importance of the award winners’ efforts in saving lives on the Nation’s roadways. Executives and high-level representatives from a number of roadway safety organizations attended to honor the award recipients.

USDOT Releases Advanced ePrimer on Intelligent Transportation Systems

USDOT has released the ITS ePrimer, an advanced, Web-based textbook on intelligent transportation systems (ITS). This electronic resource provides transportation professionals, educators, students, and others with a series of Web modules describing key ITS topics with a multimodal perspective.

Photo. A tractor trailer and car are stopped at a suburban intersection controlled by a traffic signal. Yellow circles have been superimposed on the photo surrounding the truck, the car, the traffic signal, and the crosswalk signal to indicate that connected vehicle technology facilitates communication among these various elements in the roadway environment.
The ITS ePrimer includes modules on developing and deploying ITS technologies for freight and commercial vehicle operations that can help reduce the frequency of crashes between tractor trailers and smaller vehicles.

The ITS ePrimer replaces the Intelligent Transportation Primer published in 2000 in collaboration with the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America). Public and private agencies and educational institutions used the primer to provide information to practicing professionals and students on ITS planning, design, deployment, and operations. However, significant technological advances, as well as innovations in educational technology and delivery, led to a complete overhaul of the original primer. The Web-based version offers an innovative way of delivering complex information, enabling interactive content via video and Web links, easy access by the audience, and timely updates and additions.

The ePrimer includes 14 chapters, or modules, exploring various aspects of ITS. Each chapter was written by authors actively engaged in the development and deployment of ITS, providing the primer with varied and broad transportation perspectives. Topic areas include traffic operations, public transportation, rural and regional applications, and emerging issues. Each module includes multimedia samples.

A team that included USDOT’s Intelligent Transporta-tion Systems Joint Program Office, FHWA, Federal Transit Administration, ITE, and ITS America led the development of the ITS ePrimer.

For more information, visit www.pcb.its.dot.gov/ePrimer.aspx.

NHTSA Announces Safety Guidelines for Older Drivers and Passengers

In support of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a new strategic plan that will serve as a roadmap to help ensure the safety of the Nation’s growing population of older drivers and passengers. Since 2003, the population of older adults, defined as age 65 and older, increased by 20 percent, and the number of licensed older drivers grew by 21 percent to reach 35 million in 2011.

NHTSA’s highway safety guidelines for older drivers are based on best practices around the country and include countermeasures that can be implemented to improve the safety of older drivers, including at-risk motorists. The guidelines encourage State highway safety offices to work closely with driver licensing officials, State departments of transportation, medical providers, and aging services providers, among others.

 According to NHTSA, 5,560 people over the age of 65 died, and 214,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2012. Those figures represent a 3-percent increase in the number of fatalities and a 16-percent increase in the number of injuries from the previous year. The data also show that older adults are at greater risk of dying or sustaining serious injuries, even in low-severity crashes. To address these concerns, NHTSA is focusing on vehicle safety, improved data collection, and driver behavior.

To view NHTSA’s Traffic Safety for Older People--5-Year Plan, visit www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nti/older_drivers/pdf/Older_People_811873.pdf.


TRB’s Critical Issues in Transportation: 2013 Now Available

Cover of TRB’s Critical Issues in Transportation: 2013. The Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) Executive Committee periodically identifies a set of critical issues in transportation to focus attention on the likely impacts on the Nation’s economy and quality of life. Discussion of these issues is intended to facilitate debate and to encourage research leading to resolutions.

Previous editions of Critical Issues in Transportation have highlighted many of the issues that threaten the performance of the U.S. transportation system. In recent years, the committee has added the need to respond to natural disasters, highlighted how transportation has become increasingly linked to broader issues in society and the economy, and drawn attention to the role that transportation plays in energy and environmental issues.

Critical Issues in Transportation: 2013 is designed to stimulate awareness and debate and to focus research on (1) improving the perfor-mance and resiliency of the transportation system, (2) reducing transportation-related injuries and fatalities, and (3) mitigating unsustainable environmental impacts.

To order free copies of Critical Issues in Transportation: 2013, please contact Russell Houston, TRB’s assistant executive director, at RHouston@nas.edu or 202–334–3252. Please include the number of copies of the publication you need, your intended audience, and your postal mailing address.


Tennessee Launches Yellow DOT Program

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) recently launched the Yellow DOT Program, which is designed to assist first responders in identifying vital medical information about senior drivers. The program features yellow stickers that are attached to the bottom left side of a vehicle’s rear window and yellow envelopes that are placed in glove compartments and contain a photo, medical history, and prescription drug information.

This illustration from a brochure about Tennessee’s Yellow DOT program shows drivers where to place the sticker that alerts emergency responders to look in the vehicle’s glove compartment for information on the driver’s medical history and prescription drug list.
This illustration from a brochure about Tennessee’s Yellow DOT program shows drivers where to place the sticker that alerts emergency responders to look in the vehicle’s glove compartment for information on the driver’s medical history and prescription drug list.

The program will enable emergency personnel to make the most of what’s known as the “golden hour,” the first hour after an injury or medical emergency during which medical treatment can increase a patient’s chances for survival dramatically. The Yellow DOT sticker lets first responders know to check the glove compartment for the information packet.

The program went into effect in January 2014. In addition to personalizing the treatment of victims at a crash scene, the program enables drivers to have a voice in their treatment--even if incapacitated--and improves communication between field personnel and hospital emergency staff. Although the program is geared toward senior drivers, it can benefit anyone with medical issues. There is no cost associated with signing up for the program.

For more information and a list of locations to sign up for the program, visit www.tdot.state.tn.us/yellowdot.


NACTO Releases Urban Street Design Guide

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) recently released its Urban Street Design Guide. The guide is intended to be “a blueprint for designing 21st-century streets,” which not only serve to move traffic but also meet the need for urban public spaces, environmental controls, and more.

Artist’s rendering. This artist rendering shows a street where several onstreet parking spaces have been converted into seating areas with tables and chairs separated from the street by planters.
NACTO’s Urban Street Design Guide includes artist’s renderings to illustrate various features to improve the pedestrian-friendliness of streets, such as conversion of parking spaces into a parklet, as shown here.

The guide is available in two formats: a free-to-use, interactive Web site and a print document available for purchase. It covers a wide range of topics such as shared streets, intersection design, and parklets--public seating platforms that convert curbside parking into community spaces that may incorporate seating, greenery, or bike racks.

For most topics, NACTO offers three levels of guidance: critical, recommended, and optional. Critical elements are those without which a treatment cannot be implemented. Recommended features provide significant added value, while optional design elements may vary by location and add value depending on the situation. Clear visuals and photos of examples from communities around the country help make street design accessible to city leaders, planners, designers, engineers, and the public.

The online and print editions of the guide cover the same material. However, the interactive Web version offers additional photographs, notes, and case studies.

The Urban Street Design Guide is available at http://nacto.org/usdg.


Colorado DUI Laws Include Marijuana-Impaired Driving

With marijuana now legal for recreational as well as medical use throughout Colorado, the Colorado Depart-ment of Transportation (CDOT) has launched a “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign to educate motorists about the dangers of driving under the influence of the drug.

The campaign message acknowledges that although marijuana is now legal in Colorado, driving impaired by marijuana is not. CDOT has distributed posters to marijuana dispensaries and provided a marijuana and driving fact sheet to rental car agencies and law enforcement. The effort also includes TV commercials broadcast during programs primarily viewed by the target audience.

To define a target audience and message for the campaign, CDOT conducted phone surveys and focus groups. The research showed that males between the ages of 18 and 34 used marijuana the most and that frequent users drive high on average 17 times a month. Frequent users were less likely to think they could get a DUI after consuming marijuana. These results highlighted the need to target males ages 18 to 34 with the message, “Drive High, Get a DUI.”

According to the Colorado Judicial Branch, there were 23,519 DUI and driving while ability impaired (DWAI) convictions in 2012 throughout the State. Evaluators note that marijuana was involved in 1,045 cases--about 4 percent. Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2000.

As it has with alcohol, Colorado has established an impairment level for marijuana, which is five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol--the active psychoactive component of marijuana--per milliliter of whole blood. CDOT is working alongside the marijuana industry and other State and local agencies to develop policies and education efforts to inform marijuana users about the dangers of driving while impaired. Other laws prohibit the use or display of marijuana on public roadways.

Colorado law enforcement officers are trained in the detection of impairment due to alcohol and drugs. Many are specially trained drug recognition experts who learn to detect physical signs of drug impairment. These officers are viewed as one of the most effective law enforcement resources in efforts to reduce drugged driving.

Logo. Shown is a diamond shape with the words "Drive High Get a DUI" overprinting it.
Colorado’s "Drive High, Get a DUI" campaign includes public awareness videos and posters aimed at reducing driving under the influence of marijuana.

For more information, visit www.DriveHighDUI.com.





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