Safety Matters: Back to School and the Road to Zero

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Back to School and the Road to Zero

September means “back to school” around Connecticut. Although school continues to look a little different for many, what remains the same is the danger students face getting to and from school on our roadways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines children as age 14 and younger. In 2017, the most recent year reported, NHTSA statistics revealed the following:

  • Of the 37,133 motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States, 1,147 (3%) were children.
  • Of the 5,977 pedestrian traffic fatalities in 2017, 214 (4%) were children.
  • Of the 783 pedalcyclist traffic fatalities in 2017, 53 (7%) were children.

This number means an average of three children per day are killed on our nation’s roadways. The Road to Zero Coalition, which is managed by the National Safety Council, has made a commitment to bring traffic fatalities down to zero by 2050. This is a challenging but important commitment, as no one should have to die simply traveling our roads. Children are especially vulnerable during the school year as they are walking and biking to school, often during times of little daylight.

There are many ways in which you can make your community safer for children and for all roadway users. Resources from organizations like the Safe Routes Partnership and Walk Safe can help you to create safe systems in your community. These organizations focus on getting children safely to and from school, but their ideas ultimately result in greater safety for all users. Communities can also start a walking school bus which provides safety while encouraging physical activity. This also helps reduce the number of vehicles on the road during school drop-off and pick-up hours. If you are interested in additional ways to make your community safer for children, watch this Road to Zero webinar.

For more information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at melissa.evans@uconn.edu.

Resources:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/

Road to Zero August 2021 newsletter, https://www.nsc.org/road/resources/road-to-zero/road-to-zero-newsletter

Watch for Me CT, https://watchformect.org/

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Signal Spotlight: Improving the Resiliency of Traffic Signal Infrastructure

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Signal Spotlight: Improving the Resiliency of Traffic Signal Infrastructure

Among the other trials 2021 has brought to public works departments, it has been a particularly active year for hurricanes and tropical storms. Connecticut has had a number of damaging storm events over the last 10 years, with storms Elsa, Isaias, Dorian, Jose, Sandy and Irene causing significant damage to public infrastructure and private property. Widespread power outages impacted businesses and delayed the state’s return to normal operations. Many Connecticut municipalities are taking steps toward greater infrastructure resiliency, including continuity of traffic signal operations during power outages.

Dark intersections pose an immediate safety concern for the traveling public. In a New York State Department of Transportation study by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2009, researchers found that 77% of all dark signal-related collisions reported were right angle collisions, and there were twice as many collisions involving injuries at those locations than collisions with no injuries reported. Dark intersections can also cause delay for emergency responders at locations that typically provide emergency pre-emption of the signal operations and may contribute to congestion in areas with significant traffic volumes. Having a plan in place for power outages and other emergencies is essential to providing good basic service.

Stop signs are one option for providing control at a dark intersection. This requires the municipality to have a stock of temporary stop signs on hand and manpower to install the signs at the outage location(s) and collect them when the signal is back to normal operation. The MUTCD requires that the signal must flash all red upon startup where temporary stop signs are installed to avoid confusion, and the temporary stop signs must be removed before returning the signal to stop-and-go operation.

Providing backup power is another option in a power outage. There are several considerations when determining if and when to provide backup power at signalized intersections:

Type

Portable or permanent generators are one option for providing power during short-term outages. For gas-powered portable generators, a lockable access port may be installed on the outside of the cabinet. These generators are transported to the intersection during the outage and plugged into the cabinet.  Permanent generator installations typically run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and can automatically switch to generator power in the event of an outage. Florida and Utah have guidelines for operating traffic signals on generator power. Costs can range from about $1,200 to install an external generator panel to in excess of $20,000 for a CNG system.

Also known as battery backup systems, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) with battery storage is another option for powering a traffic signal during a power outage. These systems typically cost approximately $3,000 to $5,000 plus installation.

Safety

Safety is always top priority, and it is important for personnel to wear appropriate personal protective equipment and to set up a proper work zone while installing temporary stop signs or generators at a dark intersection. While using generators, care must be taken to ensure they do not run out of fuel or pose an electrocution risk to anyone who may touch the equipment. In the case of a battery backup system, storing large batteries in a cabinet at the intersection can pose a hazard in the event the cabinet is struck by a vehicle and battery acid is released into the environment.

Maintenance

Maintenance considerations for generators include maintaining a supply of fuel for portable generators and regularly testing generators to ensure that they and any automatic switching equipment are operating correctly. Battery backup systems may be installed in the controller cabinet, but battery fumes and leaking acid may corrode the sensitive electronics in a controller cabinet. It is common for this equipment to be installed in a separate cabinet, typically on the same concrete pad as the controller cabinet. A remote battery monitoring system may be considered to ensure that the equipment will operate correctly in the event of a power outage.

Location

Considerations for installing generator and/or battery backup power at signalized intersections generally include:

  • Railroad pre-emption
  • Emergency vehicle pre-emption
  • System master controllers
  • Highway ramps and single point urban interchanges
  • Unique intersection geometry
  • Multiple left or right turn lanes in the same direction
  • History of signal malfunction due to power quality or reliability issues
  • Intersections on high volume roads
  • High-speed approaches
  • Signal repair response time

Some states, like Maryland, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, have state-specific guidelines for the installation of UPS devices. Other states, like Georgia, require battery backup to be installed at all locations with railroad pre-emption and make all other determinations on a case-by-case basis. The Connecticut Department of Transportation does not currently allow UPS systems at stateowned traffic signals, though municipalities may install them on town-owned signals.

More information on planning for infrastructure resilience may be found in FHWA Publication FHWA-HOP-15-024 – Transportation System Resilience to Extreme Weather and Climate Change.

If you have traffic signal systems questions, please contact:
Theresa Schwartz, P.E., P.T.O.E. – Traffic Signal Circuit Rider
theresa.schwartz@uconn.edu.

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Signal Spotlight: The Role of Traffic Signals in Traffic Incident Management

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Signal Spotlight: The Role of Traffic Signals in Traffic Incident Management

What Is Traffic Incident Management (TIM)?

A traffic incident is a non-recurring event that creates a reduction in highway capacity and/or an increase in demand. Incidents can include traffic crashes, disabled vehicles, spilled cargo, highway maintenance or construction, non-emergency planned events, emergencies and major weather events.

In Best Practices in Traffic Incident Management published in September of 2010, FHWA defines Traffic Incident Management (TIM) as “a planned and coordinated multidisciplinary process to detect, respond to, and clear traffic incidents so that traffic flow may be restored as safely and quickly as possible.” As such, Traffic Incident Management requires extensive coordination between many stakeholders including law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency medical services (EMS), transportation agencies, towing and recovery personnel, and communications specialists.

According to the National Traffic Incident Management Coalition (NTIMC), which was established in 2004, the National Unified Goal for traffic incident management is:

  • Responder safety;
  • Safe, quick clearance; and
  • Prompt, reliable, interoperable communications.

Why Is TIM Important?

Traffic incidents account for approximately 25% of non-recurring congestion on America’s roadways. This congestion has economic impacts to road users in the form of increased fuel costs and vehicle emissions. These costs are often compounded when additional crashes occur.

Secondary crashes, or crashes that occur as a result of distraction or congestion from a prior incident, are responsible for 18% of all fatal traffic crashes in the United States according to FHWA. Incident scenes place first responders in a vulnerable position on an active roadway. The National Traffic Incident Management Coalition (NTIMC) has found that traffic crashes and struck-by incidents are leading causes of on-duty injuries and deaths for law enforcement, firefighters, and towing and recovery personnel.

Traffic incidents follow a typical timeline, beginning when the incident occurs and ending when traffic flow returns to normal. The NTIMC has found that after an incident has cleared, four minutes of travel delay are created for every minute a freeway travel lane was blocked during the peak period. The longer the incident, the greater the cost and risk of injury or death to responders.

The Role of Traffic Signals in TIM

As you can see in the diagram above, providing traffic management and motorist information plays an important role throughout the timeline of a traffic incident. While traffic signal timings on a detour route may not significantly impact the overall duration for shorter incidents, a longer-lasting incident with significant impact may be shortened by implementing optimized traffic signal timing along the detour route.

TIM operations are managed using a structured Incident Command framework that is often led by law enforcement officials with support from various other stakeholders including fire and rescue personnel, emergency medical services (EMS), transportation agencies, towing and recovery personnel, and communications specialists. As noted in the Simplified Guide to the Incident Command System

for Transportation Professionals, Command considers the following three priorities:

  • Life Safety – protecting emergency responders, any incident victim, and the general public.
  • Incident Stability – Minimizing an incident’s impact on the surrounding area, maximize response efforts, and ensure efficiencies in using resources.
  • Property Conservation – Minimizing damage to property while still achieving established incident response objectives.

The role of transportation professionals in TIM includes modifying traffic signal timings to reduce congestion, providing information to Incident Command using data available through a Traffic Management Center, and advising motorists using variable message boards, highway advisory radio and internet resources like online mapping and social media.

Modifying the signal timings at intersections along a detour route allows agencies to give priority to a specified movement to increase throughput by increasing the green times on those approaches. This may be effective for “flushing” traffic from a freeway or allowing faster evacuation from an affected area. Information on using signal timings for evacuation operations may be found in the FHWA publication Using Highways During Evacuation Operations for Events with Advance Notice.

Transportation professionals operate Traffic Management Centers (TMCs) in metropolitan areas, monitoring real-time traffic conditions to help identify incidents quickly and assess the impact of traffic signal timing changes. Providing this information requires communications to a central operations center, central software, detection to measure traffic volumes, and cameras for detection and monitoring of events. Municipalities operating the same central software can improve regional operations by sharing data between agencies.

TIM Efforts in Connecticut

Traffic Incident Management is currently one of seven emphasis areas within the Connecticut Strategic Highway Safety Plan. At a regional level, the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) oversees the Greater Hartford TIM Coalition that includes both public and private stakeholders. Recent activities undertaken by the coalition include development of a TIM Field Pocket Guide for use by practitioners in the field, updates to the Greater Hartford Region Unified Response Manual, and updates to regional diversion plans for freeway incidents. The Greater Hartford TIM Coalition also publishes several newsletters each year which may be accessed from the Coalition’s website.

In collaboration with CTDOT and the Greater Hartford TIM Coalition, the T2 Center will be hosting TIM Training on September 29th and September 30th with Aidan Neely of CTDOT as the instructor. To register, visit the Workshop Calendar on the T2 Center website.

If you have traffic signal systems questions, please contact:
Theresa Schwartz, P.E., P.T.O.E. – Traffic Signal Circuit Rider
theresa.schwartz@uconn.edu.

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Safety Matters: Speed Management Tools and Tips

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Speed Management Tools and Tips

Speeding is one of the most common concerns faced by local agencies. It seems that people are always in a hurry, possibly distracted and not paying attention to posted speed limits. Regardless of whether it’s in a rural neighborhood or an urban downtown, speeding has become the “norm.” Unfortunately speeding can be deadly.The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) cites speeding as a factor in 26 percent of all fatalities.

So how do we solve this issue? Many people think enforcement is the only solution. Enforcement can certainly help, but most police departments have limited resources and can’t have an officer on every street all the time. However, there are several tools and tips available to slow people down and make our roads safer for everyone.

Although it would be great if we could control every driver’s behavior behind the wheel, we just can’t. What we can do is affect their behavior by providing them environmental guidance on how they should be driving. This could be in the form of additional signage on a roadway, the use of speed feedback signs as a reinforcement of the speed limit or in restriping a road so speeding feels less comfortable. Connecticut has also recently passed legislation to address speeds in pedestrian zones and allow municipalities to set local speed limits. For more information on that legislation, register to attend the T2 Center’s September Coffee and Conversation here.

Many local agencies also employ more extensive measures to reduce speeds by making physical changes to a roadway. This may include installation of devices such as speed humps/tables/cushions, chicanes, road diets and roundabouts. Many of these can be installed on a temporary basis to evaluate their effectiveness. Several communities in Connecticut have installed these types of devices, examples of which can be found on the T2 Center’s website. Also, there are several tools available to help you decide which measures might work in your community. FHWA has a website dedicated to speed management which includes useful tools including a traffic calming e-primer, https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/speedmgt/.

An important and often overlooked tool is being a good example on the road. When driving, obey the speed limit on all roads. It can be easy to drive slowly in our neighborhood but then speed elsewhere in town. By paying attention to how we drive everywhere, we can set the pace for other drivers and help slow speeds in our community.

For more information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at melissa.evans@uconn.edu.

Resources:

Federal Highway Administration, https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/speedmgt/

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Signal Spotlight: New Haven’s Edgewood Cycle Track

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Signal Spotlight: New Haven’s Edgewood Cycle Track

In a city where 20% of residents commute via walking or biking, safe routes to schools and places of work are essential. Four kindergarten-through-eighth-grade schools are situated along the Edgewood Avenue corridor, which connects the Westville neighborhoods to the job centers in the Elm City’s central business district. Edgewood Avenue was designed to be a local road but has become a main thoroughfare consisting of two-way boulevard sections and one-way sections between the Westville neighborhood and the city center. Nine signalized intersections along the corridor lack pedestrian accommodation, and there are no existing accommodations for bicyclists.

The City of New Haven initiated a project to construct a 2.5-mile cycle track along the Edgewood Avenue Corridor that is the first protected cycle track of its kind in Connecticut. The City applied for and received $1.2 Million in Community Connectivity Grant funds from the CTDOT to install the two-way, parking-protected cycle track. The cycle track will begin at Forest Road in Westville and continue to Park Street in downtown New Haven and is designed to provide safe access for all users along the route, including pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. Construction is underway and is expected to be completed in 2021.

The cycle track is protected from vehicular traffic with paint and reflective bollards and uses a parking lane as a buffer to allow for safer routes to local schools, employment centers and Edgewood Park. The additional paint and bollards are expected to calm traffic along the corridor, improving safety and reducing emissions by reducing vehicular speeds.

Traffic Signal Innovations

The Edgewood Cycle Track project includes eleven signalized intersections and incorporates several innovative traffic signal technologies, including an adaptive system, bicycle detection, and connected vehicle technology. The intersection of Winthrop at Edgewood was a two-way stop-controlled intersection and will be converted to a signalized intersection as part of the project. At the west end of the corridor, there are four newer 2070-type controllers installed seven or eight years ago. The remaining signals have older NEMA controllers that are 20 to 25 years old.

At the intersections with older controllers, GridSmart video detection cameras will be connected to the central system via existing telephone lines. At the newer intersections with Econolite 2070 controllers, the video detection is connected via fiber. Upgrades at the signalized intersections include new conduit for the wiring to the bicycle and pedestrian signal heads as well as upgrades to the sidewalks and physical infrastructure to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

RSUs (RoadSide Units) transmit SPaT (signal phasing and timing) information that drivers and bicyclists can see using a GPS-enabled app. The City contracted with Traffic Systems, Inc. to offer the free mobile app for users to download. At the signals connected to the central system, SPaT data will be broadcast to drivers and bicyclists. At isolated intersections, the GPS feature will allow bicyclists to be alerted to the presence of approaching vehicles. The RSUs come with five years of wireless service, so the phone lines at the intersections with RSUs will be disconnected to save the city taxpayers money.

In addition to vehicle detection, the GridSmart cameras installed at the intersections will be used for bicycle detection. When riding a bicycle down a corridor, there is typically what Doug Hausladen, the City’s Transportation, Traffic and Parking Director, calls an “effort curve.” If a bicyclist is forced to stop at a signalized intersection, it takes great effort for them to go from zero to one mile per hour, but once the bicyclist is traveling at a steady speed, bicycling is generally quite easy. With SPaT information, bicyclists may adjust their speed to avoid stopping and smooth out their effort curve.

At the intersection of Edgewood Avenue at Route 10 (Ella T Grasso Boulevard), exclusive bicycle phasing will be provided. To prevent conflicts between bicycle movements and left- and right-turning vehicular movements, the bicycles traveling along the Edgewood Avenue cycle track will have a protected signal phase during which all motor vehicles are stopped.

CTtransit operates the 246 Route along Edgewood Avenue, and it is also a priority route for emergency vehicles. Emergency vehicle pre-emption equipment will be installed to give transit and emergency vehicles the right of way along Edgewood Avenue.

Design Challenges

The design process for the traffic signals was completed in-house by the City and took two years, with several rounds of CTDOT comments and design revisions. One of the major design challenges faced by the City’s engineers was working within the limited structural capacity of the existing traffic signal supports. Ideally, the bicycle signal heads would be placed at the far side of the intersection on the mast arm. The City hired a structural engineering consultant to examine the adequacy of each of the existing structures to support the weight of the additional equipment. The consultant found that the pedestrian and bicycle signals could not safely be added to the 30-year-old mast arm supports.

City engineers were forced to change the design to provide side-mounted bicycle signals on aluminum pedestals to achieve far-side placement of pedestrian signal indications. In 2015, the City submitted 36 individual submissions for each signalized intersection and responded to four rounds of comments. In the end, the traffic signals were not perfect FHWA model designs, but the City was entrepreneurial and came up with an acceptable solution that accommodates all users at the intersection. In addition to coordination with FHWA in the design of the bicycle signals, the City got interim approval to paint what are nicknamed “elephant tracks,” the wide green painted stripes used to guide bicyclists through an intersection.

The roadway and traffic signal improvements were originally to be bid as one project, but ultimately the project was divided up to prevent the traffic signal portion of the project from holding up construction on the other components of the cycle track.

Future Opportunities

Vulnerable road users are killed on New Haven’s streets every year, including twelve in the year 2020, but the City is working hard to reduce that number. In 2009, the City conducted a planning study to identify gaps in the bicycle network and to identify short-, medium- and long-range improvements that would make travel safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. The City continues to use the plan to guide investment in infrastructure for vulnerable road users with the goal of having a citywide network of protected bicycle routes.

If you have traffic signal systems questions, please contact:
Theresa Schwartz, P.E., P.T.O.E. – Traffic Signal Circuit Rider
theresa.schwartz@uconn.edu.

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Signal Spotlight: Bicyclists at Signalized Intersections

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Signal Spotlight: Bicyclists at Signalized Intersections

As towns develop multimodal transportation plans, signalized intersections should be considered. According to the 2021 Traffic Safety Facts published annually by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 27% of bicyclist fatalities and 55% of bicyclist injuries occur at intersections. Signalized intersections are typically designed to accommodate motorized vehicles and pedestrians, but accommodations for bicyclists are rare. There are several ways signalized intersections can be designed to facilitate bicycle travel.

Bike Boxes
According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), a bike box is a “designated area at the head of a traffic lane at a signalized intersection that provides bicyclists with a safe and visible way to get ahead of queuing traffic during the red signal phase.”

A bike box is typically painted with an image of a bicyclist in white, sometimes with a green background, and places the rider in a conspicuous place in the intersection where drivers can see him or her.


Bicycle Detection
When intersections experience high vehicular volumes or speeds, they can sometimes be difficult for even experienced bicyclists to navigate. Bicyclists typically move slower than motorized vehicles and take longer to clear an intersection. Bicycle detection can be used to indicate when there is demand from a bicyclist to enter the intersection or to extend the green time on an approach to accommodate the slower speed of a bicycle. Vehicular loop detectors are calibrated to detect larger vehicles and do not always detect the presence of a motorcycle or bicycle, so bicyclists are detected using separate detectors.

Bicycle detectors are typically indicated using pavement markings, as discussed and illustrated in Part 9 of the MUTCD, to indicate the optimal position for the bicyclist to actuate the signal. Sometimes sign R10-22 is used to supplement these markings. Push buttons that bicyclists can press without dismounting are used in some cases, including some bike trail crossings in Connecticut where Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB’s) are provided.

Bicycle Signal Faces
The current 2009 edition of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) requires that traffic signal indications are arrow or circular. The MUTCD further states in Section 4D.07-F that, optionally, an 8” circular indication may be used for “a signal face installed for the sole purpose of controlling a bikeway or a bicycle movement.” Though they are not included in the current version of the MUTCD, bicycle-shaped indications are allowed under  Interim Approval IA-16.

This interim approval outlines the meaning of steady green, steady yellow and steady red bicycle indications; the allowable size, layout, placement and mounting height of the faces; and the allowable timing of the intervals associated with the bicycle faces. Under the Interim Approval, if an agency chooses to implement bicycle signal faces, they shall only be used where bicycles moving on a green or yellow signal indication in a bicycle signal face are not in conflict with any simultaneous motor vehicle movements, including right turns on red. Additionally, sign R10-10b is required for use with any bicycle signal face that is intended to control bicycles only, to reduce driver confusion.

Be sure to check next month’s Connecticut Crossroads for a Connecticut case study on bicycle signals from the City of New Haven.

If you have traffic signal systems questions, please contact:
Theresa Schwartz, P.E., P.T.O.E. – Traffic Signal Circuit Rider
(860) 486-4535 or theresa.schwartz@uconn.edu.

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Safety Matters: All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Safety

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All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Safety

All-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, are a popular mode of recreation across the country and here in Connecticut. Similar to other recreational activities, following safety procedures can keep a fun outing from turning into a tragedy. In 2019, according to the US Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), 259 people nationwide died in ATV crashes. That same year in Connecticut, there were four fatal ATV crashes and an additional twenty-nine injury crashes. So far in 2021, there have already been three reported serious injury or fatal ATV crashes in Connecticut. These crashes and the resulting injuries and deaths are preventable.

The ATV Safety Institute’s website has valuable information for parents of children who want to ride ATVS and for adults who want to ride as well. Learning how to properly handle the vehicle, the safety precautions one should take prior to and while riding it, and knowing the relevant state laws about ATVs are essential tools to keep the activity safe and fun.

As the summer approaches, outdoor recreation, including ATV riding, will increase. Proper training, following the above Golden Rules as well as the state laws, and keeping safety the number one priority will help ensure that all ATV riders and passengers make it home.

For more information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at melissa.evans@uconn.edu.

Resources:

https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/motorcycles-and-atvs

https://atvsafety.org/

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Safety Matters: The Safe System Approach: How to Achieve Zero Deaths

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The Safe System Approach: How to Achieve Zero Deaths

Everyone is familiar with the terms “Towards Zero Deaths,” “Road to Zero,” “Vision Zero” – but what do those terms really mean? They all imagine a world where our family, friends and neighbors don’t have to die on the roadways. In 2019 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that there were over 36,000 traffic fatalities and over 6,200 pedestrian fatalities across the country. Here in Connecticut, the preliminary estimate for 2020 fatalities is 308. Although it may seem daunting to reduce those numbers to zero, it can be done. One of the ways we can accomplish this is by implementing the Safe System Approach.

The Safe System Approach has six basic principles as its foundation. It starts with the simple belief that death and serious injury on our roadways is unacceptable and that humans will make mistakes. These are statements that I think we can all agree on. Nobody should die or be seriously injured simply trying to get to work or school or home to their family. Humans are fallible and often make poor decisions; driving while distracted, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding and reckless driving can all lead to a serious or fatal crash. The reason crashes result in serious injuries or death is because humans are vulnerable, which is the third principle of the Safe System Approach. People have a limited ability to withstand and survive the impacts of a severe crash.

The fourth principle of the Safe System Approach recognizes that responsibility for safety is shared by many. Vehicle manufacturers, law enforcement, those who plan, design, build and maintain the roadways, emergency service personnel and the users of the system – each plays an important part in safety, but none of them can achieve it alone. Principle five is that safety is proactive. In order to achieve zero deaths and reduce serious injuries, we cannot wait for crashes to occur before we figure out why and how we could have avoided them. There are many tools available to help identify risk factors and mitigate them before a crash occurs.

Finally, the last principle of the Safe System Approach is that redundancy is crucial. This means that all the elements of a safe system work together but if there is a weakness in one, the others may be enhanced to compensate for that weakness. An example would be if a driver speeds (weakness), the roadway is designed in such a way that would reduce that driver’s potential for a serious crash (compensation).

In conjunction with these principles are the five elements of a safe system. These are directly related to the principles but target the specific areas listed below.

  • Safe Road Users – Users are all those who drive, walk, cycle, ride mass transit or use an alternative mode. Educating them and encouraging them to do so safely reduces the potential for crashes.
  • Safe Vehicles – Advancements in vehicle technology assist drivers to reduce crashes and protect drivers if a crash occurs.
  • Safe Speeds – Humans are no match for high-speed crashes. This is especially true for pedestrians and cyclists. Reduction in speed directly correlates to less severe crashes and fewer fatalities.
  • Safe Roads – Roads designed and built to account for human error result in fewer crashes and when they do occur, they are less severe.
  • Post-Crash Care – Emergency personnel responding quickly and efficiently reduces the possibility of a crash resulting in a fatality. This element also includes traffic incident management and crash investigation.

These principles and related elements of a Safe System Approach create a holistic approach of addressing safety by making it everyone’s responsibility and not placing the burden on one part of the system. Many of us are already implementing certain elements of this approach, but all of us should be using the Safe System Approach in order to get every one of Connecticut’s road users to their destination safely.

For more information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at melissa.evans@uconn.edu.

Resources:

https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813021

https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/zerodeaths/zero_deaths_vision.cfm

https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/zerodeaths/docs/safety_systems_pres_rv012621.pptx

https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/newsletter/safetycompass/2020/fall/#s2

https://www.ctcrash.uconn.edu/

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Signal Spotlight: Traffic Signals 101

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Signal Spotlight: Traffic Signals 101

On April 22, 2021 and April 23, 2021, participants from fifteen municipalities and the Connecticut Department of Transportation gathered for Signals 101, held at Firehouse 1 in Monroe. This class was the introductory workshop for Level One of the Connecticut Traffic Signal Technician Certificate Program. Though class sizes were limited due to social distancing restrictions, we were able to accommodate the participants over two days.

A total of 31 participants discussed the “anatomy” of a traffic signal, including the major components inside and outside the signal cabinet. Joe Balskus, PE, PTOE explained the history of traffic signals and the various models of traffic signal controllers, as well as other aspects of signal systems. Mark Zampini of the CT DOT Traffic Signal Lab loaned a controller cabinet to the program, allowing for a hands-on demonstration of the electronic equipment and features within the cabinet.

One of the most rewarding aspects of offering this new certificate program is seeing professionals from across the state come together to share their knowledge and experience. Lee Brow, from the Town of East Hartford, was recently promoted into the Alarms Division of the Fire Department where his duties will include providing maintenance to the town’s traffic signals. With a background as an FAA certified Airframe and Power plant Mechanic he knew the basics of electronics. He told me, “The Signals 101 workshop gave me a base to start to build from. I now have a basic idea of what’s going on inside the cabinet and how to start the troubleshooting process. The workshop has taken the intimidation factor down for me and I am excited to receive more training and education on traffic control devices.”

Dale Wadowski, of the Bristol Police Department, has maintained the city’s signals for a number of years. This was the first time he had the opportunity to attend formal classroom instruction of this kind and was happy to discuss his experiences with others. Stephen Frycz, Traffic Signal Supervisor for the City of Stamford, serves on the advisory committee for the Traffic Signal Circuit Rider program and was among the more experienced technicians participating in the workshop. Throughout the two days, he and other veterans in the field compared notes on the parts and equipment their municipalities are using and how they have solved various issues in the field. CT DOT engineers and technicians of varying levels of experience were also in attendance, sharing insights from their knowledge of the State’s infrastructure and traffic signals projects.

The schedule for the three remaining workshops is provided below:

Traffic Signal Operations and Reading Signal Plans

5/25/2021 – South Windsor

5/26/2021 – Farmington

Operational Safety and Basic Electricity

6/22/2021 – Southbury

6/23/2021 – Wethersfield

Traffic Signal Construction

Fall Date(s) TBD

Completion of all four workshops is required to earn the Traffic Signal Technician Certificate. Classes may also be taken individually, if desired. To sign up, visit the T2 Center’s website where registration is now open for all scheduled sessions. We look forward to hosting these future workshops and seeing our first graduates from Level One of the program!

Do you have a traffic signal-related question? Would you like to share a signal project you’ve been working on? If so, email Theresa.schwartz@uconn.edu and your town may be featured in a future Signal Spotlight!

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Sustainable CT: Fostering Cleaner and More Diverse Transportation

Sustainable CT: Foster Cleaner and More Diverse Transportation

What do the City of New Britain’s Beehive Bridge, shared parking in the Town of Killingly, and the Town of North Stonington’s walkability audit all have in common?  They are all thoughtful local initiatives that earned recognition in Sustainable CT.

Sustainable CT is a statewide initiative that inspires and supports communities in becoming more efficient, resilient and inclusive. It also recognizes those communities  for their sustainability achievements. Using a broad definition of sustainability, the program provides a menu of coordinated actions across thirteen sustainable impact areas, ranging from inclusive community building to clean and diverse transportation.  

Sustainable CT’s menu of actions build local economies, social justice and respect the finite capacity of the environment. Here is a list of those actions that fall within Sustainable CT’s transportation category, with an inspiring municipal success story accompanying each.

  • Action 6.1: Implement Complete Streets — The City of New Britain’s Beehive Bridge is a $7.5 million project completed in the Fall of 2019 to renovate its Main Street overpass over Route 72 and thereby reconnect the two sides of downtown New Britain. Complete Streets improvements for this project include: placemaking efforts through the addition of large, historically inspired sculptures; creating architectural pedestrian enclosures; widening sidewalks on both sides of the overpass; adding bicycle lanes; and adding two pocket parks on the East Main Street side of the bridge. The project also improved pedestrian access to the downtown New Britain CTfastrak Station. 
  • Action 6.2: Promote Effective Parking Management — The Town of Killingly implemented a parking allowance permitting contiguous parcels to share parking and or utilize public parking options within 200 ft of the property. This allows more space to be left as pervious surface for green space or future development.   
  • Action 6.3: Encourage Smart Commuting — The Town of Greenwich has implemented several incentives and amenities to encourage municipal employees to engage in alternative commuting strategies. Aligned with the Transportation Leaders Program, the Town designated an on-site point of contact for employee commute inquiries, made alternative commute information available, and provided municipal vehicles for offsite meetings and deliveries to employees who do not commute by personal vehicle. Additionally, the Town provided a designated bicycle parking area, pre-tax payroll deductions for employee commuting costs, and shuttle services for employees.
  • Action 6.4: Support Zero Emission Vehicle Deployment — The City of Hartford provides several electric vehicle charging stations in public locations. The city’s zoning regulations mandate that all new development provide for electric vehicle charging stations designed in accordance with 4.20.7.B, with varying requirements for percentage of total parking spaces with Level 1 or Level 2 charging stations for different building types. 
  • Action 6.5: Promote Public Transit and Other Mobility Strategies — The Town of North Stonington conducted a walk audit in the greater village area. Residents walked 4 routes that included community hallmarks such as schools, the library, a farm stand, and the recreation center. The audit sparked conversation about the walkability of the town and will inform decisions around community walkability moving forward.
  • Action 6.6: Manage Municipal Fleets — The Town of East Hartford implemented a municipal fleet management strategy that will enforce an anti-idling policy, modernize the town fleet by retiring aged vehicles, and improve equipment specifications focusing on reducing emissions, fuel efficiency and more durable/sustainable replacements. Other strategies include ensuring vehicles are operating in the most fuel efficient manner, implementing a fleet vehicle replacement plan that adheres to upgraded efficiency standards, and right-sizing town fleet with the intention of using the least amount of equipment possible. 

For additional inspiration, visit Sustainable CT’s searchable database of transportation initiatives and other local sustainability projects.  There, you can view the progress of the one-hundred twenty-one municipalities that have registered for the program, representing 83% of the state’s population. Collectively, sixty-one municipalities, over 36% of the state’s communities, have earned Sustainable CT certification since 2018. Certification lasts for 3 years.

Sustainable CT is managed by the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University and independently funded, with strong support from its three founding funders: the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Common Sense Fund, and the Smart Seed Fund.  

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