Traffic fatalities in Arizona reached a 3-year low in 2019

Crashes involving distracted drivers fall 11.8%

PHOENIX – Traffic crash fatalities on Arizona roadways in 2019 fell to their lowest total in three years, according to the Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report published Tuesday, June 30.

Total traffic crash fatalities was one of several key measurements that decreased in 2019 from 2018. The 2019 report also tallied fewer pedestrian fatalities, alcohol-related fatalities, fatalities of those not wearing seat belts and distracted drivers involved in crashes compared to the previous year.

The Arizona Department of Transportation produces the annual Motor Vehicle Crash Facts Report, which is a compilation of traffic crash reports provided by law enforcement agencies around the state. The report reflects crash data for all Arizona roadways, including city streets, county roads, reservation roads and state highways.

While the total number of fatalities decreased, the total number of crashes in Arizona rose by 1.6% from 2018 to 2019. In the same timespan, Arizona saw the total number of licensed drivers increase by 1.3% to 5.38 million.

Reducing crashes, fatalities and injuries can’t be solved by state agencies alone because 68% of crashes occur on roads other than state highways. In fact, real change must begin in the driver’s seat because driver behavior is a factor in more than 90% of collisions. Some of those behaviors saw better results in 2019 than recent years, but there are still too many preventable crashes, fatalities and injuries occurring on Arizona’s roads.

The report shows that at least 10,491 drivers involved in collisions during 2019 engaged in “distracted driving behavior.” This is an 11.8% decrease from 2018, when the figure was 11,898. In April 2019, when Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2318, it became illegal for drivers to talk or text on a cellphone while driving unless the device is in a hands-free mode.

Arizona continues to see fewer deaths related to drinking and driving and not wearing seat belts. Alcohol-related fatalities decreased for the third straight year, falling 21% since 2017, and the 256 fatalities in 2019 is the lowest total since 2010. The number of people killed not wearing seat belts fell for the fifth year in a row – from 258 in 2015 to 211 in 2019 – but unbuckled occupants still account for about a fifth of all traffic fatalities.

Pedestrian fatalities fell to their lowest total since 2016, with 220 in 2019. Most pedestrian fatalities occur on surface streets in urban areas, and pedestrians should cross streets only at marked crosswalks where drivers expect to see them.

Crashes involving bicyclists and motorcycles continued a years-long downward trend. The 1,275 total crashes involving bicyclists in 2019 are the fewest since at least 1991 – crashes involving bikes peaked in 2012 with 2,146. Crashes involving motorcycles declined for the third straight year and reached their lowest total (2,676) since 2004. Yet, despite the decrease in crashes for these categories, each saw a year-over-year increase in bicyclists and motorcycle operators and passengers killed in vehicle collisions.

The full 2019 Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report is available at azdot.gov/CrashFacts.

 

COVID-19 pandemic: DOT to provide more than 15 million cloth facial coverings to essential workers

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Photo: andresr/iStockphoto

Washington — The Department of Transportation has announced it will distribute about 15.5 million cloth facial coverings to transportation workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Previous guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified transportation workers as essential and among those in “critical infrastructure” occupations.

“Transportation workers are on the front lines of keeping our transportation systems operational during this public health emergency and their well-being and safety is paramount,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in a May 28 press release.

Distribution of facial coverings by industry is as follows:

  • Mass transit and passenger rail: 4.8 million
  • Aviation: 3.8 million
  • Maritime: 2.4 million
  • Freight rail: 2.2 million
  • Highway and motor carrier: 2.1 million
  • Pipeline systems: 258,000

FEMA secured the facial coverings, which are expected to be distributed via the U.S. Postal Service “over the coming weeks.”

DOT weighs in on CBD products: Workers in safety-sensitive jobs should be cautious

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Photo: StephM2506/iStockphoto

Washington — CBD products may have higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC – the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – than the Department of Transportation allows in a non-controlled substance, the agency cautions in a Feb. 18 policy and compliance notice, adding that CBD use is not a “legitimate medical explanation” for a safety-sensitive employee who tests positive for marijuana.

The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 – also known as the Farm Bill – altered the definition of “marijuana” under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Hemp-derived products with a THC concentration of 0.3% or less are no longer considered controlled substances.

In response to inquiries about whether safety-sensitive employees (e.g., pilots, school bus drivers, truck drivers, transit vehicle operators, aircraft maintenance personnel, train engineers and ship captains) can use CBD products, DOT notes that although it requires testing for marijuana and not CBD, many CBD products have misleading labels.

“The products could contain higher levels of THC than what the product label states,” the notice states. “The Food and Drug Administration does not currently certify the levels of THC in CBD products, so there is no federal oversight to ensure that the labels are accurate.”

Employees who claim to use only CBD products can test positive for marijuana and run afoul of DOT’s drug-testing regulations.

“[Because] the use of CBD products could lead to a positive drug test result, [DOT]-regulated safety-sensitive employees should exercise caution when considering whether to use CBD products,” the notice states.

COVID-19 Guidelines for ADOT Construction Sites

Construction sites are a busy place full of people including ADOT, consultants, prime contractor, subcontractors, and vendor employees; and utilities and other agencies. Field teams should maintain constant communication with these multiple entities and be vigilant for obviously sick employees in the field. Any employees reporting to work sick should be sent home.

Positive Test

In the event an individual goes home with COVID-19 symptoms and later tests positive and is linked to a field office or construction site, the individual is strongly encouraged to self-report a positive COVID-19 result for current pandemic public health reasons. This notification should be to either the Prime Contractor’s Safety Supervisor or the ADOT Resident Engineer as applicable. Once the confirmed case is reported, the following measures should be taken:

  • All companies working on the site should be informed of the situation without specifically naming the sick individual.
  • A thorough disinfecting (not just cleaning) of all common and high touch spaces should be completed at the job site
  • Any employees working in the immediate area with the sick employee, should continue to self-monitor for symptoms and continue practicing good hygiene and social distancing protocols.

Typical Notification Message Point may include:

“Someone in our workplace has tested positive for COVID-19, and you have been identified as working in closed contact according to the CDC definition.” The key to notifying employees is doing it quickly to minimize the risk of spreading the disease. Notification should ideally be done by phone or chat. If that is not possible, an email with the heading “Important Action Required” in the heading should be used.

Negative Test

In the event an employee goes home with COVID-19 symptoms and later tests negative, the individual is strongly encouraged to self-report the negative result and the employee will be allowed to return to work upon following the guidance from their healthcare professional or the employee has no symptoms for the prior 72-hour period. For more detailed resources regarding COVID-19, visit AZ Department of Health Services at https://www.azdhs.gov/ or the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

COVID-19 pandemic: Rest stops must remain open, trucking stakeholders contend

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Photo: tekinturkdogan/iStockphoto

Washington — Transportation officials and a trucking industry group are calling for highway rest stops to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic to help ensure the safety and well-being of commercial motor vehicle drivers, especially those transporting items intended to assist in relief efforts.

In a March 17 letter sent to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear asks that the federal government keep rest stops open. On March 23, Federal Highway Administration Administrator Nicole Nason sounded a similar call in a letter to American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials President Patrick McKenna.

“Closing rest areas where professional drivers can rest may risk the safe and timely delivery of medical supplies, food and other essential goods,” Nason writes. “As we all work to stem the tide of this outbreak, let us also continue to facilitate the safe, efficient and seamless transport of critical supplies across the nation.”

The requests came as multiple states decided to close their rest stops. On March 16, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation shuttered 35 interstate rest stops, including parking access. Two days later, however, in response to pushback from industry stakeholders, the department announced 13 of its facilities would reopen.

During the pandemic, ATA is tracking state declarations concerning various trucking issues, including parking and rest stop availability. As of April 1, three states – Illinois, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania – had enacted partial closures of rest stops. ATA notes that although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lacks preemptive authority over states that elect to close rest stops, the agency is “working closely with the states to ensure adequate truck parking and facilities are available.”

According to a March 17 report from Transportation Nation, FMCSA acting administrator Jim Mullen sent a letter that same day to NATSO (formerly known as the National Association of Truck Stop Operators) President and CEO Lisa Mullings, demanding that rest stops remain open.

“As the nation continues to come to grips with the realities of COVID-19, I am writing to let you know that [FMCSA] recognizes the integral role that travel centers and truck stops play in the nation’s supply chain,” Mullen writes. “All of your members must heed the [Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention] guidelines and follow state and local restrictions. In the coming weeks and months, it will be critical that these businesses remain open, 24 hours per day, providing America’s truck drivers with fuel, food, showers, repair services and opportunities to rest.”

A day before Mullen sent his letter, Mullings issued a statement confirming that member facilities remain open.

“Truck drivers are depending on truck stops and travel centers as they deliver food and life-saving supplies,” Mullings said in a March 16 press release. “As the nation confronts the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s travel centers and truck stops are committed to remaining open and serving America’s drivers.”

FMCSA on March 18 issued an expanded national emergency declaration granting temporary exemption from federal hours-of-service regulations to CMV drivers transporting items intended to assist in COVID-19 relief efforts.

DOT Guidance on Compliance with DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations

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DOT Guidance on Compliance with Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations [1]

March 23, 2020

 

This guidance document provides clarity to DOT-regulated employers, employees, and service agents on conducting DOT drug-and-alcohol testing given concerns about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).  We, as a Nation, are facing an unprecedented public health emergency that is straining medical resources and altering aspects of American life, including the workplace. The Nation’s transportation industries, which are not immune to the impacts and disruptions resulting from the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, are playing a vital role in mitigating the effects of COVID-19.

DOT is committed to maintaining public safety while providing maximum flexibility to allow transportation industries to conduct their operations safely and efficiently during this period of national emergency. Read More»

FMCSA CDL Waiver

Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency –
For States, CDL Holders, CLP Holders, and Interstate Drivers Operating

Commercial Motor Vehicles

March 24, 2020

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Grant of waiver.

SUMMARY: FMCSA grants, until June 30, 2020, a waiver from certain regulations applicable to interstate and intrastate commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders and to other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The Agency has initiated this action in response to the President’s declaration of a national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b) related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

DATES: This waiver is effective March 20, 2020 and expires on June 30, 2020. Read More»

Public comment begins March 20 for ADOT’s Tentative Five-Year Construction Program

Proposed 2021-2025 focus: preservation of the state highway system

PHOENIX – Drivers rely on Arizona’s highway system for their daily commutes, weekend travel, and the delivery of goods and services to their communities. Keeping that system in good repair and functioning well is all part of the Arizona Department of Transportation’s focus during the next five years.

The plan is part of the proposed annual update to ADOT’s lineup of all statewide projects. The 2021-2025 Tentative Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program allocates funding for preservation, modernization and expansion projects.

The public comment period for the 2021-2025 Tentative Five-Year Program begins Friday, March 20, and ends at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 2. The State Transportation Board will make its final decision in June about what will be in the updated Five-Year Program.

The complete report will be available on Friday, March 20, at azdot.gov for review and comment. ADOT welcomes feedback via an online form that will also be available Friday, March 20, at azdot.gov/tentative5year, by email at fiveyearconstructionprogram@azdot.gov(link sends e-mail) and by phone at 855.712.8530.

The 2021-2025 Tentative Five-Year Program proposes an average of approximately $310 million per year for preservation of bridges and roadways throughout the state highway system. This moves ADOT even closer to its goal of allocating $320 million per year for system preservation. Preservation projects include repaving highways, filling potholes, extending the life cycle of existing pavement, and repairing or reconstructing bridges. Approximately 67 percent of all funding allocated to Greater Arizona will be directed to preservation projects from fiscal year 2021 to fiscal year 2025.

Register Now for the Clearinghouse and Be Ready for January 6

Purchase Query PlanThe FMCSA CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will be fully operational on January 6, 2020. Starting on this date, employers, including owner-operators, will need to be registered to:

  • Conduct queries to access a driver’s Clearinghouse record, after obtaining the driver’s consent. Beginning January 6, you will be required to conduct a full query in the Clearinghouse before hiring any CDL driver.
  • Designate a consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA), if you work with one, which enables your C/TPA to access the Clearinghouse on your behalf. This is a requirement of all owner-operators.
  • Purchase a query plan, which must be in place before you, or your designated C/TPA, can conduct queries.
  • Report violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program.

You can prepare for January 6 by registering for the Clearinghouse today. (If you have an FMCSA Portal account, ensure you have the correct Portal user role in place.)

FMCSA Updates SMS Website

FMCSA has updated the CSA SMS Website with the November 29, 2019 results.

Complete SMS results are available to enforcement users and motor carriers that are logged into the SMS. Logged-in enforcement users can view all carrier safety data, while logged-in motor carriers can only view their own data. If you are a motor carrier and do not have login credentials, please click here for more information on how to obtain your PIN.