Preventing Debris-Related Crashes: How to Safely Secure Objects to Your Vehicle

Do you feel uneasy when you’re driving behind a minivan towing a trailer of garage sale finds or a pickup truck hauling a suspiciously shaky mattress?

You know, something like this:

You have good reason to be nervous.

A 2016 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study determined more than 200,000 debris-related crashes were reported between 2011 and 2014. These incidents were responsible for nearly 40,000 injuries and over 500 deaths.  Continue reading “Preventing Debris-Related Crashes: How to Safely Secure Objects to Your Vehicle”

Navigating Ohio’s Roundabouts

Once found nearly exclusively in Europe, today there are more than 5,000 roundabouts on our nation’s roadways. The first roundabouts were built in the United States over a century ago. Once scarce, their numbers have doubled in the last decade, with hundreds more in the planning stages.

What is a roundabout?

A modern roundabout is a circular intersection where drivers travel counterclockwise around a center island. It replaces traffic lights or stop signs at the intersection. Unlike old-fashioned traffic circles, where incoming traffic had the right of way, in a modern roundabout, drivers must yield to traffic already in the roundabout, then proceed into the intersection and exit at their desired street. Roundabouts are designed to improve traffic flow, reduce accidents, and save energy.

How to drive in a roundabout

Roundabouts are designed to make intersections safer and more efficient for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. There are two types of roundabouts: Single-lane roundabouts and multi-lane roundabouts.

Driving roundabouts safely
Driving through a single-lane roundabout. Click to enlarge.
(Photo courtesy of Ohio Department of Transportation.)

Important tips for driving roundabouts:

  • Yield to drivers in the roundabout
  • Stay in your lane; do not change lanes
  • Do not stop in the roundabout
    (If you’re in a roundabout when an emergency vehicle also enters, exit the roundabout first, and then pull over.)
  • Avoid driving next to oversized vehicles

Driving in single-lane roundabouts

Roundabouts are marked with a yellow “roundabout ahead” sign with an advisory speed limit for the roundabout. Slow down as you approach the roundabout, and watch for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Continue toward the roundabout and look to your left as you near the yield sign and dashed yield line on the road at the entrance to the roundabout. Yield to traffic already in the roundabout. Once you see a gap in traffic, enter the circle and proceed to your exit. If there is no traffic in the roundabout, you may enter without yielding. Look for pedestrians and use your turn signal before you exit.

Driving multi-lane roundabouts

In a multi-lane roundabout, you will see two signs as you approach the intersection: The yellow “roundabout ahead” sign and a black-and-white “lane choice” sign. You will need to choose a lane prior to entering the roundabout.

You choose your lane in a multi-lane roundabout the same way you would in a traditional multi-lane intersection. To go straight or right, get in the right lane. To go straight or left, get in the left lane. Drivers can also make U-turns from the left lane.

Driving through multi-lane roundabouts
Driving through a multi-lane roundabout. 
(Photos courtesy of Washington State Department of Transportation.)

 


Sources

What is a Roundabout?” Pages – Roundabouts in District 3. Ohio Department of Transportation. Web. Accessed 9 Sept. 2015.

WSDOT – How to Drive a Roundabout.” WSDOT – Safety. Washington State Department of Transportation. Web. Accessed 4 Sept. 2015.

Ohio School Bus Safety

Being stuck behind a school bus while rushing to work can be frustrating, but school bus safety is more important than shaving a few minutes off your commute time.

From 2004 to 2013, there were 1,344 people killed in school-transportation-related crashes—an average of 134 fatalities per year. Bus drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers on the road, all must obey bus safety rules. In Ohio, drivers must stop at least 10 feet away from a stopped school bus to allow passengers to safely enter or exit the bus.

Flashing yellow lights mean a school bus is going to stop.Watch the lights

Amber lights

Amber (yellow) flashing lights at the top of the bus indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Although you are not required to stop when the amber lights are flashing, you should be prepared to stop as soon as the bus comes to a full stop.

You must stop for a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing.Red lights/Stop Arm

When the bus stops, red lights on the top of the bus will begin flashing, signaling drivers that children are entering or exiting the bus and may be crossing the street. In addition, a stop arm with flashing red lights extends out on the left side of the bus. Stop and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before starting to drive again. 

When to stop for a school bus in Ohio

On a road with fewer than four lanes, all traffic approaching a stopped school bus from either direction must stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus and remain stopped until the bus begins to move or the bus driver signals motorists to proceed.

On a road with fewer than four lanes, all traffic approaching a stopped school bus from either direction must stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus.

If the bus is stopped on a street with four or more lanes, only traffic proceeding in the same direction as the bust must stop.

If the bus is stopped on a street with four or more lanes, only traffic proceeding in the same direction as the bust must stop.

School Bus Safety Tips

  • Never pass a school bus on the right
  • All school buses must stop before crossing railroad tracks
  • Never pass a bus at a railroad crossing
  • Be aware of school zone signals and always obey the posted speed limits
  • Leave a little early so you are not rushed as you travel

Failure to stop for a school bus adds 2 points to your license in Ohio and is punishable by fines up to $500. You must appear in court and the judge has the discretion to suspend your driver’s license for up to one year. A driver who injures a pedestrian while failing to comply with school bus safety laws can face both criminal charges and civil liability. Those liabilities can include the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

 

Sources:

National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2015, June). School transportation-related crashes: 2004–2013 data. (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 170). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Ohio Department of Public Safety. Bureau of Motor Vehicles. (2015, June). Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4511.75 – Stopping for stopped school bus