Safety

Fewer Accidents due to BlackBerry Outage

Abu Dhabi's English language news publication, The National, reports that the three-day BlackBerry service disruption has coincided with a 20% decline in traffic accidents in Dubai and a 40% decline in Abu Dhabi. 

     "'Absolutely nothing has happened in the past week in terms of killings on the road and we're really glad about that,' Brig Gen Al Harethi said. 'People are slowly starting to realise the dangers of using their phone while driving. The roads became much safer when BlackBerry stopped working.'"

 

 

Friday Seminar - Venky Shankar on Performance Oriented Modeling

This Friday's TRANSOC seminar features Dr. Venky Shankar, Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University and Visiting Scholar, UC Berkeley, on "Towards a Statistical Basis for Performance Oriented Modeling of Highways - a Safety Perspective."

 

This talk will discuss a strategic approach to the development of a consistent modeling basis for the statistical analysis of highway safety. Barriers to the development of consistent bases will be discussed with respect to the statistical, computational and data considerations. This work is being performed as part of Dr. Shankar's sabbatical visit to UC Berkeley.

 

The Seminar is Friday, October 21, 4:00-5:00, 406 Davis Hall.

Ampelmännchen turns 50.

Berlin 2007: Ampelmann

50 years ago today, the most iconic traffic light for pedestrian crossings debuted in German Democratic RepublicAmpelmännchen or "Little Traffic Light Man." On this day in 1961, traffic psychologist Karl Peglau introduced the novel design to improve predestrian safety

 

In several studies, he concluded that many of the 10,000 traffic deaths between 1955 and 1960 could be attributed to one thing: Pedestrians had to follow the same traffic lights as cars. When it was foggy, the red-yellow-green lights did not offer sufficient orientation for visually impaired pedestrians. According to Peglau, they provided the opposite, and were a safety risk. He estimated the economic damages of this problem in the GDR reached up to 155 million deutsche marks in 1959.

"Clearly distinguishable guiding signals" were meant to address this. A friendly red man with thick, outstretched arms would prompt pedestrians to stop, and a lively green man in mid-stride would denote the appropriate time to walk. Peglau provided personal characteristics in order to "appropriately provoke the desired pedestrian behavior through emotion," giving them pug noses, fingers, ears and mouths.

 

After the Reunification of German, the iconic Ampelmännchen was quickly introduced to West Berlin and continues to be a symbol of the unified city. 

Get Down with Bicycle Safety

Avid readers know that this week was International Walk to School Day in the USA, part of the Safe Routes to Schools program. Bicycle safety has always been an important component of safe routes to schools, even way back in the 80s. Here's is an old school jam from an after school special circa 1989. You dig?

Word. Though safe bicycling is still important, even for adults. Listen to this rhyme king tell you all about the need for proper illumination. 

Stay safe out there. 

International Walk to School Day and Safe Routes

going to school

Today International Walk to School Day in the USA. Did you know that? You probably did. Everyday can be walk to school day through the work of the Safe Routes to School program, a multidisciplinary coalition with members from transportation, public health, and housing. Their report, Getting Students Active through Safe Routes to School: Policies and Action Steps for Education Policymakers and Professionals, contains information about how schools can implementa a safe routes program and things to consider. The TransForm report, Bringing Safe Routes to Scale, which focuses on the Bay Area. SafeTREC researchers Jill Cooper and Tracy McMillan published a report last year that evaluated 10 low income schools

 

Petaluma Going Yellow for Left Turns

left turn signal

Yesterday the Press Democrat reported on Petaluma replacing the "left on green" signals with flashing yellow lights

The city will replace all or some of the protected-permissive signals at 26 intersections throughout town, while allowing a few to remain as is.

Some will include a signal new to California and what may be a first for Sonoma County — the flashing yellow left-turn arrow.

Petaluma Boulevard North at Magnolia Avenue/Payran Street had a “higher than expected collision experience involving left-turning vehicles,” Zimmer said.

In all four directions, the protected-permissive signals will be replaced with protected left-turn phasing, meaning left-turn drivers will see a progression of green, yellow and red arrows.

Then, once the intersection is cleared, a flashing yellow arrow will light, alerting drivers that they may proceed with caution with a left turn when oncoming traffic is clear.

The 2009 MUTCD includes languange about flahsing yellows for left turns (4D.17-4D.20). The topic is also discussed in NCHRP Report 493: Evaluation of Traffic Signal Displays for Protected/Permissive Left-Turn Control. While Petaluma is the first city in California to implement this sort of signal, it has been catching on across the nation. Next year, two different research projects investigating the impacts of flashing yellows on protected left turns should be completed. One is Evaluation of Flashing Yellow Arrows (FYA) for Protected/Permissive Left Turn (PPLT) Control from Bradley University for the Illinois DOT. The other is Field Study of Driver Behavior at Flashing Yellow Arrow vs Green Ball Permitted Left-Turn Indications by CTS of the University of Minnesota for the ITS JPO of RITA

 (Hat tip to @thedotreport)

 

Raising Speed Limits: Impact on Safety?

Motorway Three

Today the state of Maine raised its speed limit from 65 to 75 mph. Across the Atlantic, today it was also announced that the British government wants to raise the speed limit to 80 mph. Proponents argue that increasing the speed limit will propmote economic growth through reducing congestion, which was touched upon in the TTI report "Speed Harmonization and Peak-period Shoulder Use to Manage Urban Freeway Congestion." Opponents are concerned about the implications on traffic safety. Purdue's Fred Mannering wrote about the relationship between safet and speed in his 2009 article, "An empirical analysis of driver perceptions of the relationship between speed limits and safety." In the report, "Long-Term Speed Compliance and Safety Impacts of Rational Speed Limits," researchers from University of Virginia and VTRC found that increased speed limits along with coordinated education and enforcement can be safe.

 

MTA shuts down for Hurricane Irene - can you use transit for evacuation?

7th Avenue Station

As the East Coast braces for Hurricane Irene, New York MTA announced a system shutdown on noon Saturday. This after Mayor Bloomberg ordered mandatory evacuations. Given that 41% of New Yorkers rely on tranist as their primary mode, this makes evacuation interesting. There has been research on using transit for emergency evacuations. Such as this case study from Alabama, Transit Evacuation Planning: Two Case Studies by Turner et al., and Transit-Based Emergency Evacuation Simulation Modeling by Naghawi and Wolshon. 

Our thoughts are with you all on the East Coast this weekend. Good luck and stay safe. 

 

 

Bay Area Infrastructure Report Card: Do we pass?

yay for sunroofs

This week the ASCE's Report Card 2011: Bay Area Infrastructure was released. It's been six years since the last report card was issued, but as Infrastructure USA puts it, there's a lot to be concerned about:

Since the last update of the American Society of Civil Engineer (ASCE)’s Bay Area Infrastructure Report Card in 2005, we have seen several major infrastructure failures: the gas line explosion in San Bruno, California with major loss of life in 2010; wastewater discharges from Marin County into the San Francisco Bay; and a collapse of the Interstate Route 35 Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota with significant loss of life in 2007. All of these are classic examples of aging infrastructure allowed to perform without sufficiently funded monitoring, rehabilitation, and replacement programs. The 2011 Bay Area Infrastructure Report Card for the San Francisco ASCE Section aims at bringing awareness to, and quantifying the need for, funding to upgrade our area’s essential infrastructure to acceptable levels.

The ASCE San Francisco Section’s Infrastructure Report Card Committee’s reevaluation of the various infrastructure categories in 2011 resulted in an overall grade of “C”, with some of the categories being as desperately low as a “D+”. The Committee has determined that in order to bring all categories up to a grade of “B”, which was deemed the minimum acceptable level, we will need additional annual funding of $2.83 billion.

Of course, given the current economy and the state of the California budget, these improvements might be a long way off. Hopefully there won't be any more disasters in mean time. 

Complete Streets

 From the Fall 2009 Tech Transfer Newsletter

Websites

  • National Complete Streets Coalition
    The National Complete Streets Coalition is comprised of planning organizations, advocacy groups, consultants, and local governments interested in the implementation of the Complete Streets concept nationwide. They provide information and news about Complete Streets initiatives, as well as resources to help people host their own community workshops about Complete Streets. The website also tracks pertinent federal policies including American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) projects and funds.
  • Complete Streets in California
    California Department of Transportation - Division of Transportation Planning
    The main portal for information about Caltrans' Complete Streets projects and guidelines, including implementation of Deputy Directive 64.
  • Complete Streets: Talking Points
    Planning for Healthy Spaces - Public Health Law and Policy
    A brief introduction to the Complete Streets model and how different aspects of the plan can improve the health and safety of different user groups, such as pedestrians or bicyclists.

Reports, Articles and Conference Proceedings

  • Complete Streets: We Can Get There from Here
    John LaPlante and Barbara McCann, ITE Journal, v.78, n.5, May 2008, pp. 24-28
    Provides an introduction and overview of the Complete Streets movement, as well as some points to consider before implementing changes in your location.
  • Retrofitting Urban Arterials into Complete Streets [PDF, 0.3 M]
    John LaPlante, 3rd Urban Street Symposium: Uptown, Downtown, or Small Town: Designing Urban Streets That Work, 2007
    Examines different issues related to retrofitting existing arterials into Complete Streets, addressing the tension inherent between the need for traffic capacity and speed and making streets safe for bicyclists and pedestrians as well.
  • Brave New Nonmotorized World
    Jay Walljasper, Planning, v. 74, n.11, December 2008, pp. 20-23
    Provides an analysis of how bicycling and pedestrian retrofits and improvements in European cities provide case studies and examples for similar projects in American cities.
  • Planning Complete Streets for an Aging America [PDF, 33.2 M]
    Jana Lynot et al., AARP Public Policy Institute, 2009
    Discusses how the Complete Streets agenda impacts and benefits mobility for the aging population. Interdisciplinary research examines how the Complete Streets program will affect older drivers and pedestrians, examining design recommendations to improve safety for travelers of any age.

Organizations

Here are other organizations that are interested in and working toward implementing Complete Streets nationwide.

 

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