June 2018 Newsletter: Turn Lane is Not a Merge Lane and Merge Lane is Not a Turn Lane


It Really Does Matter: Do the Right Thing When Making a Left Turn

Our Driving Concern Senior Program Manager Lisa Robinson speaks to issues and concerns all employers face when trying to make their workforce safe on the road.

Q: Do you remember the rules of the road as they apply to turn lanes and merge lanes?

A: Collisions can be avoided if drivers follow the rules, understand the differences and use these lanes correctly. To avoid falling into bad driving habits or becoming complacent behind the wheel, it is a good idea to review some of the basics from time to time as part of your consistent and ongoing safety efforts.

Start with turn lanes. Someone pulls out of a fast-food restaurant. Traffic is heavy so they pull into the turn lane while waiting to get into the correct lane. We all have seen this happen – and maybe done this ourselves. Know this: A turn lane is not a merge lane, and a merge lane is not a turn lane.

These are not interchangeable and the rules regarding use of these lanes are specific.

A center left-turn lane is a single lane in the middle of the road used for cars turning left from either direction. Drivers may use this type of lane to enter the main road from a side street or driveway – but only in select states.

A center left-turn lane allows cars to turn left without disrupting the flow of traffic. Specific laws about center left-turn lane use vary by state, but there are some general rules that apply everywhere. Watch/share: Pulling into a Center Turn Lane & Turning Left.

Explain how the “Zipper Merge” works to keep traffic flowing, and share this driving tips demonstration video. Side benefit: Incidents of road rage can be reduced if drivers relearn the best offense is a solid defensive driving strategy.

Watch: In 2017, a road rage incident turned into a brawl in Pawnee County.

Use New Tool to Demonstrate How BAC Levels Can Remain Elevated

Most people think they are good to drive a few hours after they have consumed drinks. Our new training tool demonstrates how your blood alcohol level can remain elevated long after you have stopped drinking.

While engaged in this exercise, you will meet RuthAnn, who joins friends for drinks on Thursday night. They gather to celebrate the coming of an end to another work week. Her BAC remains elevated when she departs the house on Friday morning.

Try this with employees at your workplace: It’s a matter of time …

In 2016, alcohol-related crashes resulted from 189 fatalities statewide, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. Of the 189 fatalities, 150 were drivers, 29 were passengers and 10 were pedestrians.

Impaired driving occurs when a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle has been compromised by alcohol or drugs. Research indicates concentration, judgment and reaction time can be affected after one drink.

Change driver behavior with our creative resources and your ongoing educational efforts. Play this looping file on your video monitors: A Creative Way to Deliver Traffic Safety: Video Tool.

Safety Pro Drives Home Point on Roadside Emergency Preparedness

One way to drive traffic safety at your workplace is to highlight stories that connect with your employees. They all drive personal vehicles, company vehicles and/or rental vehicles. They all can relate to this tale shared by Betsey Kulakowski, training manager with the Oklahoma Safety Council:

Betsey woke to a beautiful day recently – sun shining, birds singing. “It couldn’t be any better,” is what she was thinking.

And she was right.

Betsey was on I-44 traveling to work when her day took an unexpected turn. Her back tire blew out. She was in the middle lane. She had to make some quick decisions. Fortunately, she was able to signal and get safely to the shoulder.

The safety professional in her immediately seized on the irony of the situation: “In a few weeks, I’m going to be doing a webinar on preventative maintenance and being prepared for roadside emergencies,” she thought.

Betsey exited her vehicle and realized she was living a worst-case scenario. While her flat tire was away from traffic, she was still in a danger zone considering morning rush traffic was whizzing by at 60-mph or more. She looked for the spare tire and jack in the back of her SUV and discovered two things:

  • “I can’t get my jack free from the holder that keeps it safely in place”
  • “My spare seems low on air, too”

Because she subscribes to a roadside assistance program and her husband was 10 minutes away, she was able to quickly enlist help. Her husband arrived, freed the jack from its holder and went to work. But while she was waiting, a trooper with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol stopped. The trooper reminded Betsey she could call star-55 for help.

“It was a nice reminder that they aren’t just out there catching bad guys,” she said. “They’re keeping us safe.”

In the end, Betsey’s husband discovered her spare tire was, indeed, flat. He took it to the nearest gas station to have it refilled.

“Who thinks to check their spare?” Betsey said.

Eventually, she made it to work – albeit a little late – but with a few safety lessons learned. She will be sharing more on emergency roadside preparedness in a free webinar Aug. 15. Stay tuned for registration details.

Free Resource Can Help Prevent Back-Over Incidents on Job Sites

In the U.S., more than 200 people die every year after they have been backed over by a vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Use our updated Backing Over Prevention talking points to avoid costly incidents involving your employees.

During your next safety huddle, share two of the most effective ways technology is helping drivers avoid back-over collisions:

  • Cameras: Provide drivers with a view of the rear and/or other blind spots
  • Proximity detection systems: These use radar and ultrasonic waves to bounce a signal off an object, and a dashboard warning system then alerts the vehicle operator of a potential risk

One point to make: Cameras and detection systems are most effective when warning signals can be heard and when used with an internal traffic control plan. These types of plans control movement of equipment, workers and vehicles on job sites to minimize the number of times workers and vehicles cross paths.

Spotters can assist in avoiding backing over objects or people, too, by ensuring safe communications and that safety procedures are followed at a worksite.

Keep in mind: Today’s vehicle safety technologies are meant to assist drivers, not replace them. You are still your vehicle’s best safety feature.

Find this free resource here: Backing Over Prevention.

Summer Travel Reminder: Why It’s Important to Buckle Up in the Back Seat

Rear-seat passengers are three times more likely to die in a crash if they are unbelted, according to research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2016, NHTSA found:

  • 900 unrestrained rear-seat occupants age 8 and older died in motor vehicle crashes
  • More than 450 likely would have survived had they buckled up

Summer is a time when many of your employees will use vacation time and travel. To prepare them for riding in vehicles they may not be accustomed to – cabs or ride-sharing vehicles – introduce the “Make it Click” traffic safety campaign produced by Uber and the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The campaign is a call to action reminding drivers and passengers of the importance of wearing seat belts, even when taking a cab or using a ride-share service.

“Increasing belt use – particularly in the backseat – is one of the most persistent challenges for states,” GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said in a news release.

Among adults who admit to not always using safety belts in the back seat, four out of five surveyed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety say short trips or traveling by taxi or ride-hailing service are times they don’t bother to use the belt.
IIHS also found:

  • Adults (35 to 54) were the least likely to always buckle up in the back seat
  • Women were more likely than men to buckle up in the back seat
  • Adults who attended college were more likely to buckle up in the back seat than those with less education

Watch: Doesn’t Matter How Far: Just Belt Up!
Share: Seat Belts Save Lives

Size Matters: Avoid Big Issues That Could Result from Bigger Tires

Last August, USA Today published a list of the most popular cars and trucks in every state. In Oklahoma, a certain brand of pickup truck topped the list. What happens when the new owner of that pickup elects to install bigger tires? And how does the answer to that question impact road safety?

The circumference of a tire is larger on bigger tires. That means:

  1. The distance around the tire is longer
  2. With each revolution, you travel farther than with a smaller tire
  3. Your actual speed is higher than your speedometer reads
  4. It’s time to recalibrate your speedometer

Point your staff to this tool so they can run their own tire size and speed check.

A citation for speeding can cost hundreds of dollars, and that does not count court costs or factor in missed work time. Driving too fast increases the force of impact in crashes. In 2016, there were a total of 8,109 unsafe speed crashes in Oklahoma and 168 fatal unsafe speed crashes, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.

Most people do not realize when they change the tire size on their vehicle it has an impact on the speed — or the measurement of the speed — at which they are traveling.