First published by ADOT.
Work zone risks for highway crews and you: the danger is real
ADOT marking National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 26-30)
PHOENIX – Most of us couldn’t imagine being on the job with speeding cars and trucks just feet away zooming past our desk, cubicle or other place of business.
But every day, highway construction and maintenance crews across Arizona face just such potentially dangerous scenarios, especially when many drivers don’t slow down or pay attention in work zones. Sadly, drivers and passengers are even more likely to be killed or seriously injured in work zone crashes.
The Arizona Department of Transportation has joined other safety agencies across the country in promoting National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 26-30) to focus attention on the need for drivers to stay alert, recognize they’re entering an area where construction or other workers could be at risk and to embrace life saving actions that include slowing down.
A number of ADOT’s electronic signs along state highways and freeways are displaying safety messages this week, including “Safe Drivers, Safe Workers, Safe Work Zones” and “Give ‘Em A Brake, Stay Alert in Work Zones.”
A check of law enforcement agency reports shows that since 2016 more than 60 people have died in work zone-related crashes along all roads in Arizona, including local streets and state highways. An ADOT employee, Frank Dorizio, lost his life last year when he was struck by a vehicle while setting up a work zone sign along Interstate 10 near Casa Grande.
National statistics over time have shown that 4 out of 5 victims of work zone crashes were drivers or their passengers. Arizona work zone crash statistics from law enforcement reports over the past five years include the following:
- 2016: 7 fatalities, 28 serious injuries
- 2017: 18 fatalities, 31 serious injuries
- 2018: 17 fatalities, 23 serious injuries
- 2019: 15 fatalities, 22 serious injuries
- 2020: 9 fatalities, 23 serious injuries **
- ** – preliminary – all 2020 crash reports not yet analyzed.
“We partner with our contractors to deploy safe work zone measures within our projects,” said ADOT Central District Administrator Randy Everett. “That includes temporary concrete barrier walls to protect construction crews. However, you can’t prevent all exposures to traffic, especially when short-term maintenance work such as pavement repair is happening. We need drivers to stay alert for workers and equipment. We want everyone to arrive safely home.”
The theme for this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week is “Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives.” The annual safety event has been held across the country since 2000.
McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.
Greenbelt, MD — Law enforcement officers are expected to keep an extra sharp watch for commercial and passenger vehicle drivers engaging in unsafe behaviors July 12-18 during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual Operation Safe Driver Week.
Officers will be looking for drivers who are texting, following too closely, not wearing seat belts or maneuvering in otherwise unsafe manners, while placing added emphasis on speeding.
A May 12 CVSA press release cites recent findings from the Governors Highway Safety Association showing that state highway officials nationwide “are seeing a severe spike in speeding” as traffic volume has decreased as a result of quarantines and stay-at-home orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council show that, in March, the rate of motor vehicle deaths in the United States was 14% higher than in March 2019 despite fewer drivers being on the road.
CMV and passenger vehicle drivers in North America received nearly 47,000 citations and around 88,000 warnings during last year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, per data collected from law enforcement personnel. Citations and warnings related to speeding were most common, with CMV drivers receiving 1,454 citations and 2,126 warnings, and passenger vehicle drivers receiving 16,102 citations and 21,001 warnings.
“It’s essential that this enforcement initiative, which focuses on identifying and deterring unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, go on as scheduled,” CVSA President John Samis said in the release. “As passenger vehicle drivers are limiting their travel to necessary trips and many [CMV] drivers are busy transporting vital goods to stores, it’s more important than ever to monitor our roadways for safe transport.”
Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking input on a proposed rule that would ban states from issuing commercial driver’s licenses to operators with existing drug or alcohol violations, in an effort to eliminate a “regulatory loophole.”
The proposed rule, published in the April 28 Federal Register, also would prohibit state driver’s licensing agencies from renewing, upgrading and transferring CDLs for those operators.
FMCSA contends that although its online Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse – fully implemented in January – provides real-time national data on commercial motor vehicle drivers who have failed drug and alcohol tests, most states remain unaware that the violations have occurred.
“Consequently, there is no federal requirement that SDLAs take any action on the license of drivers subject to that prohibition,” FMCSA states. “As a result, a driver can continue to hold a valid [commercial learner’s permit] or CDL, even while prohibited from operating a CMV under FMCSA’s drug and alcohol regulations.”
Provisions of the clearinghouse require employers and medical review officers to report information about drivers who test positive for drugs or alcohol, or who refuse to comply with testing. Substance misuse professionals must report information about drivers who participate in the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.
The proposal outlines two possible methods for determining the process by which SDLAs would access driver-specific information from the clearinghouse:
- Require SDLAs to initiate a mandatory downgrade of the CLP and CDL driving privilege. Drivers would be required to complete the [return-to-duty] process and comply with any state-established procedures for reinstatement of the CMV driving privilege.
- Provide SDLAs with optional notice of a driver’s prohibited status from the clearinghouse. The states would decide whether and how they would use the information under state law and policy to prevent a driver from operating a CMV.
Under the second alternative, SDLAs could choose to receive “push notifications” from the clearinghouse when drivers licensed in their state are prohibited from operating CMVs because of violations of drug or alcohol regulations.
Comments on the proposed rule are due June 29.
Itasca, IL — Concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic are creating distractions for many commercial drivers, putting the safety of these essential employees – and others – at risk, Brian Fielkow, CEO of Houston-based Jetco Delivery, said during an April 17 webinar hosted by the National Safety Council.
“Let’s face it, none of us are running right now with perfect clarity like we would’ve been a month or two ago,” Fielkow said during the webinar, which focused on safety in the transportation industry amid the pandemic. “[Transportation workers] are concerned about their health. They’re concerned about their family’s health. Maybe there are family members in poor health that they can’t visit.”
Other concerns include worries about layoffs, leaving home while under stay-at-home orders from respective governors and being assigned routes to COVID-19 hot spots.
“If you think the cellphone is a distraction – and it is – consider the impact of COVID,” Fielkow said. “That’s important because you have to approach your employees as if they’re distracted.”
Leaders and managers need to acknowledge worker concerns and “adjust your style to understand and manage distraction,” he said. “Lead with a firm commitment to safety, but with empathy, too. COVID-19 requires us to change how we lead.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on March 18 expanded a national emergency declaration, granting temporary exemption from federal hours-of-service regulations to commercial motor drivers transporting items intended to help in the COVID-19 relief effort. Fielkow is concerned about the exemption.
“Fatigue doesn’t care if we’re in a crisis or if we’re in normal times,” he said. “I’d be very, very careful about disregarding the hours-of-service rules, even if you’re hauling COVID-related materials, because fatigue is fatigue. Let’s be sure that we’re focused on safety above compliance.”
During this crisis, drivers might need more frequent breaks and more say over assigned routes. “Don’t force work,” Fielkow said. “If an employee is not comfortable with a particular assignment, you can’t force it.”
Fielkow also encouraged employers and managers to check in frequently with drivers about any concerns or questions they might have.
“We’ve done that in our company a couple of times and we’ve gotten great questions,” he said. “Those questions led to discussions and conversations, then an understanding that we can be safe and we can operate with a clear head in the COVID-19 era.”
Fielkow described a situation in which a trusted, reliable employee was having performance issues and making mistakes.
“It may be that they’re distracted,” he said. “What you’ve got to do is diffuse that distraction, stay firm on the safety issues, but put the rule books and discipline forms away. Let’s coach. Let’s call time-out. If we start inundating people with every (safety) rule out there, we’re going to lose our peoples’ minds. We’ve got to narrow the focus to what’s most important.”
Employers must understand that their clients and vendors are most likely following the same best practices when it comes to safety and health as well. To do so, Fielkow said having those conversations can advance the topic.
“You’ve got to be a resource that gathers resources,” he said, noting many industry associations are offering free COVID-19-related resources that can be downloaded and shared with clients and vendors.
Jorge Chavez, a Jetco Delivery driver with more than 15 years of experience, discussed his work delivering essential supplies to grocery stores and other businesses during this time.
“For us as professionals, we have to be extra vigilant and alert – checking our mirrors, increasing our following distance, because people could be scared,” Chavez said. “They could be distracted.”
To ensure his own safety, Chavez said staying connected with news about the pandemic, along with federal and local safety guidance updates, has been critical.
“I’m also reading all emails from my company, making sure we’re on the same page,” he said.
The FMCSA Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) Website has been updated with the April 24, 2020 snapshot from the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). The term “snapshot” refers to data captured from the MCMIS database as it appears on a particular date.
Request Reports Today
You may request a prospective driver’s latest PSP data at: https://www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov.
PSP records include a 5-year crash and 3-year inspection history for commercial drivers. Account holders may access a PSP record during the hiring process after the driver’s consent has been properly obtained.
Starting today, April 1, 2020, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) 2020 North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria is now in effect. The 2020 out-of-service criteria replaces and supersedes all previous versions.
The North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria (OOSC) is the pass-fail criteria for roadside safety inspections. The purpose of the criteria is to identify critical safety violations. Those violations render the driver, vehicle and/or motor carrier out of service until the condition(s) or violation(s) are corrected or repaired. Read More»
In 2016, 44 percent of drivers in fatal car crashes (with known results) tested positive for drugs, according to the recent report entitled “Drug-Impaired Driving: Marijuana and Opioids Raise Critical Issues for States” by the Governors Highway Safety Association. This is up from 28 percent in 2006. See a graphic from the report below for more information about drugged driving and marijuana and opioids.
“Drug-Impaired Driving: Marijuana and Opioids Raise Critical Issues for States” by the Governors Highway Safety Association
More “Drugged Driving” Facts
What is drug-impaired driving? Driving under the influence of over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, marijuana, or illegal drugs.
How common is drug-impaired driving? In 2017, 12.8 million people (ages 16 and older) drove after using illicit drugs. (2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables)
Why is drug-impaired driving dangerous? Over-the-counter (OTC) medications and drugs affect the brain and can alter perception, mental processes, attention, balance, coordination, reaction time and other abilities required for safe driving. Even small amounts of some drugs can have a serious effect on driving ability.
A recent national survey showed 22.5% of nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or OTC drugs that can impair driving. (Drug-Impaired Driving: A Guide for States, April 2017. NHTSA 2014 Drug-Impaired Driving Survey)
What substances are used the most when driving? After alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly used drug. (Source: National Institute of Drug Abuse)
What happens when you use drugs and drive? Marijuana can decrease a person’s ability to drive a car. It slows reaction time, impairs a driver’s concentration and attention, and reduces hand-eye coordination. It is dangerous to drive after mixing alcohol and marijuana. Driving after using prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicine, such as cough suppressants, antihistamines, sleeping aids, and anti-anxiety medications may impair driving ability.
Check out the graphic below from the National Institute on Drug Abuse about the effects different drugs can have on driving (click to enlarge).
Is it legal? Even in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, driving while under the influence of marijuana is still illegal. Unfortunately, too many people are misinformed. A study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) found that a third of all teens believe it is legal to drive under the influence of marijuana. In addition 27 percent of parents believed it was legal.
Not only is driving while high illegal, it’s also very dangerous. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the effects of marijuana can include: altered senses and sense of time, slow reaction time, anxiety, hallucinations and more.
TIP: Parents—tell your teen not to drive after using marijuana or other drugs, and don’t get in a car with a driver who has used marijuana or other drugs!
Remember: Marijuana and many medications act on parts of the brain that can impair driving ability. Many prescription drugs have warning labels against the operation of machinery and driving motor vehicles, for a certain period of time after use. You are more likely to be injured or in an accident while driving while under the influence of marijuana or prescription drugs.
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PHOENIX – Two years after launching a first-of-its-kind truck safety training program for drivers and companies in Mexico, the Arizona Department of Transportation has added refresher instruction for those who have been through the program.
ADOT launched the International Border Inspection Qualification in 2017 by sending trained officers from commercial ports of entry into Mexico to provide instruction, in Spanish, on safety regulations. The goals: reducing violations that can lead to delays for truckers from Mexico and making state highways safer by allowing ADOT officers to focus on vehicles needing the most attention.