April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is mobilizing law enforcement officers nationwide to look out for drivers texting or using their phone behind the wheel. The ‘U Drive. U Text. U Pay.’ high-visibility enforcement campaign, now in its fifth year.

In 2016, new NHTSA data shows that at least 3,450 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, including those who were texting and driving. Key statistical findings in NHTSA’s new 2016 Distracted Driving Research Note and Teen Distracted Driver Fact Sheet include:

To prevent tragedies due to distracted driving, motorists are urged to:

  • Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive.
  • Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
  • Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.
  • Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against unsafe drivers.

All pedestrians and bicyclists should focus on their surroundings and not on their electronic devices.  Learn more here.

Five Seconds are the average time your eyes are off the road while texting.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration recognizes April 9-13 as National Work Zone Awareness Week. 

This year’s theme: "Work Zone Safety: Everybody's Responsibility’ is part of a concerted effort at the state level to educate drivers about the need to drive safely around road work zones.  The Federal Highway Administration’s Work Zone Management Program is also working all year round to provide transportation practitioners with assistance for planning, designing, and implementing safer work zones.    

Nearly 800 people were killed and tens of thousands injured in road work zones in 2016.  Most of these fatalities were drivers and passengers. Approximately 15-20% of road work zone crashes involve non-motorists – pedestrians and bicyclists. 

In all cases, these crashes are unacceptable and preventable. The national significance of this important safety message is one for all of us at the USDOT, which is why U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao is reminding all the USDOT agencies that tomorrow Wednesday, April 11 is “Go Orange Day”. USDOT staff, roadway safety professionals and advocates across the country are encouraged to wear orange to show support for work zone safety!

Please help us support this important safety message by using the hashtags #Orange4Safety and #OrangeForSafety

National Work Zone Awareness Week Safety Poster

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recognizes April as National Safe Digging Month. Although excavation damage is the leading cause of serious pipeline incidents, it is easily preventable with one call (or click) to 8-1-1. Established in 2002, 8-1-1 is a national, toll-free one-call notification center system that has become the most effective way to combat excavation damage. It does this by connecting callers with a local one-call center which dispatches a locator to mark any underground utilities in your yard that could be damaged during digging projects. Practicing safe digging can prevent injury, pipeline damage and even death.

Before any digging or excavation project, please follow these important safety steps:

  • Call or click 8-1-1 at least 48-72 hours before any digging project.
  • Be sure to wait for desired locations to be marked before digging.
  • Once the excavation or digging site has been clearly marked, proceed to dig with caution to avoid injury or exposure to hazardous materials.

In recognition of National Safe Digging Month, PHMSA will continue to raise awareness about the importance of utilizing 8-1-1 through its annual poster and video contest for Elementary, Middle and High School students (applications are currently available). PHMSA stakeholders will also participate in outreach events nationwide promoting the importance of calling 8-1-1. Finally, PHMSA and other safe digging advocates will tweet about pipeline safety and damage prevention using #NSDM. Please be sure to visit www.phmsa.dot.gov or http://www.call811.com for more information about safe digging.

National Safe Digging Month consumer home project statistics

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is exploring the use of automation technologies in transit bus operations. These technologies enable systems in which at least one element of vehicle control (e.g. steering or speed control) occurs without direct driver input. This could enable driver assistance features like lane-keeping, precision docking and Automated Emergency Braking. In the future, we may see more flexible and dynamic transit services through fully automated buses.

To help Facilitate automation in bus transit and mitigate the challenges, FTA has developed a Strategic Transit Automation Research Plan that identifies a research agenda and outlines a strategy leveraging the strengths of the public sector, private sector, and academia. The plan emphasizes the following interrelated work areas.

Enabling Research

To accelerate the entry of manufacturers, suppliers, and transit providers into automation by building common understanding of and solutions for foundational challenges.

Integrated Demonstrations

To grow industry and expand knowledge base by demonstrating market-ready technologies in real-world settings. These demonstrations also develop, test, demonstrate, and evaluate new automation capabilities.

Strategic Partnerships

To improve quality of research by others and disseminate findings to the broad community, expanding participation of providers and suppliers.

For more information, visit https://www.transit.dot.gov/automation-research

Bus Graphic with highlighted automation features

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States nationwide are saving time and improving how they manage projects with “e-Construction,” an innovation supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) under its “Every Day Counts” program.

e-Construction is the creation, review, approval, distribution and storage of highway construction documents in a paperless environment. These processes include electronic submission of all documentation, electronic document routing and approval (including e-signatures), and real-time management of documents in a secure digital environment accessible through mobile devices and web-based platforms.

This new paperless approach makes it possible to collect twice as much data compared to older, paper-based methods. For example, Maryland deployed its first online bidding pilots last year and is using e-Construction so inspectors and employees responsible for project oversight across all modes can do more work on mobile devices. By making project documentation faster, cheaper and better, e-Construction isn’t just good government – it’s good business.

More than 45 state DOTs and numerous local agencies are making e-Construction a staple of their day-to-day operations.  Learn more at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/econstruction/peer_exchange/matrix_state.pdf.

Construction workder using mobile device on job site

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