Blue and Silver Alerts on Overhead Message Signs

Blue and Silver Alerts

Trying to stay safe while traveling Arizona’s highways is crucial, but being kept up-to-date on emergency alert information could potentially allow you to assist in the speedy apprehension of a violent criminal who killed or seriously injured local, state or federal law enforcement officers, or find a missing senior citizen.

Overhead message boards – electronic signs suspended above rushing traffic and provided by Arizona’s Department of Transportation (ADOT) – can help you do just that.

In addition to pertinent commute times, travel alerts and safety messages, the digital signs will also inform drivers of Blue and Silver Alerts. Similar to AMBER Alerts (for missing children), Blue and Silver Alerts are issued by law enforcement officials, who are seeking the public’s help.

Silver Alerts will be issued following the report of a missing person who is 65 or older, whereas, Blue Alerts will be issued following an attack on a law enforcement officer if the suspect has fled the scene of the offense according to ADOT. Several other conditions must be met before either of these alerts are issued. These are discussed in further detail below.

While these alert systems may not be new, we felt the need to reiterate their importance, especially given the fact that many drivers, like myself, may not be aware of these specific alert messages or how to appropriately respond. These alerts were initiated based on the overwhelmingly positive results of the AMBER Alert.

For a Silver Alert, the message will read “Silver Alert – Dial 511 For More Info.” If available, vehicle information will also be displayed. Again, these alerts are only issued for missing persons 65 years of age or older, and who is believed to be in danger because of health issues or a mental or physical disability. A Silver Alert can also be issued if the circumstances of the missing person are considered suspect.

For a Blue Alert, the message board will read “Blue Alert/License Plant #/Vehicle Description,” followed by a second rotating message “Dial 511 For More Info.” These alerts are issued following an attack on a law enforcement officer if the suspect has fled the scene of the offense. The suspect must also be deemed a threat to the public or other law enforcement officers by law enforcement officials.

Message boards are used regionally, not statewide, and will also display the appropriate message until the person is found or a time limit of three hours has been reached.

When you are traveling on Arizona’s busy highways, make sure to buckle-up, and stay alert 100% of the time. And if you notice a Blue or Silver Alert message, keep in mind the difference you can make on assisting our community’s most important public servants, or most vulnerable citizens.

The Importance of Staying Alert in Construction Zones

staying alert in construction zones

We all have somewhere to be by a certain time when we are on the road. We intend to leave early, but it doesn’t always work out that way. On top of this, we may be fumbling with the radio, or looking for directions on our phone to our end destination.  With these factors, we find ourselves in a bit of a hurry and distracted. This can be dangerous to not only you, but others on the road. Aside from other drivers, constructions workers are at their office daily, which happens to be on the road, and are at a major risk for distracted or rushed drivers.  The following tips can help minimize these risks and ensure that you and others, including construction workers, remain safe while on Arizona’s roadways.

KEEP ALL CELLULAR DEVICES PUT AWAY

Pokémon Go is a huge hit right now, but as ADOT states, behind the wheel is no place to be throwing out your pokéball. Phones are a major distraction on the road, and construction sights decrease driving speed significantly in a short amount of time. In order to avoid an accident, keep your eyes on the road at all times, and remain a safe distance behind the cars in front of you in case of unexpected stops.

MOVE OVER OR SLOW DOWN

A new law in Arizona requires that vehicles with flashing lights have the right of way. Drivers must either change lanes or if not safe to do so, slow to a crawl. This is crucial not only with emergency and broken down vehicles, but also construction zones. In order to ensure smooth sailing, drivers must be aware of their surroundings at all times.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

Entering a construction zone when you are in a rush to get somewhere is never fun. Watch your local new station, listen to your favorite radio station, or access AZ511 for information on highway conditions before you head out. Rushing through a construction zone can put people’s lives at risk as well as result in a major fine by local law enforcement.

Your Guide to the Best Block Party

block party

There’s nothing quite like summer. The food, the parties, the pool and lakes, and the long nights. Even on days where temperatures hover above 110-degrees, you’ll find us Arizonians outside, soaking up the sun (with lots of H20 of course). Summertime is one of the best times of years for getting outside and spending time with friends.

Why not use this time to have a summer block party? Hosting a summer block party can be a great way to get the whole neighborhood together for some summertime fun. If you’re thinking about planning a summer block party, or already have one in the works, these tips will guarantee an amazing and safe event.

The Logistics

Enlist Some Help

Before you begin, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of your friends, family or the neighbors you DO know. Block parties are not a one person show. Assign each person a job, such as getting the permit (if applicable), sending out invitations, creating a food signup sheet, etc. Sign Up Genius is a great resource.

Invitations

Invite all your friends, family, and neighbors to your block party using this awesome invitation idea (found on Pinterest). You’ll need cute desert size paper plates, a stapler or glue, a hole puncher, and some rubber bands. Once you’re done creating your invitations, simply hang them on the doors of people you wish to invite.

Name Tags

Since you might be meeting some new neighbors during this event (which is part of the point), you’ll want to provide name tags for all the attendees to wear. Blank name tags will suffice but make sure to provide enough markers to go around. Set up a table with plenty of name tags and markers.

Safety First

Because outdoor events don’t offer the same controlled environment as indoor events, it’s important to take everyone’s safety into consideration, when planning your block party. Block off the street with plenty of barricades and set up ample lighting (don’t just rely on street lights).

Summer Block Party Food Ideas

Potlucks

One of the easiest, and most cost effective, summer block party food ideas is a potluck! Ask each of your attendees to bring main dishes, desserts, sides, etc. so you have food for everyone. If planning a barbeque, ask each attendee to bring a package of hot dogs, or hamburgers along with buns.

Barbeque

Nothing says summer like a barbeque. Have a few neighbors or close friends bring grills (you’ll need more than one or two) and then set up an eating area around them. Don’t have access to full-size grills? Consider picking up a few portable grills. You can find portable grills that take either charcoal or propane.

Food Set Up

Set up various food stations such as: condiments and snacks, main courses, and deserts. Depending on your theme, you can use clean, plastic sand pails with shovels to put chips and candy in. These also work great for utensils. An inflatable pool is perfect for displaying your beverage offerings.

Party Décor and Game Ideas

Hang a Banner

Start the party off right by hanging a banner welcoming everyone to the block party. Be sure to hang it somewhere will everyone will see it. If you don’t have a banner, grab a chalkboard and some chalk, and use your imagination. Set one or two chalkboards up at the entrance to your street.

Decorations

The next step is to ensure you decorate with style. You can make simple beach ball garland using a little paint, Styrofoam balls, and string. Get the tutorial here (found on Pinterest). You can also decorate with plastic tablecloths from the dollar store. Don’t forget to make a DIY photo booth with props.

Games

Tic Tac Toe Frisbee is always a favorite. Simply draw a Tic Tac board on the sidewalk or street using chalk and use Frisbees marked with an X or O. You can also create a jumbo Jenga game using 54 2 by 4s cut into 10.5” pieces. Be sure to sand the sides to avoid splinters. Also consider having a raffle with summer themed prizes.

Know Road Conditions Before You Go with These Four Methods

road conditions

Know road conditions before you go.

We’ve all been there! Running late to work, to pick up the kids, or for an appointment. The last thing we need, or want, is to be stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. But, unfortunately, bumper to bumper traffic is often the end result of our rushing. Knowing current road conditions, including traffic congestion caused by road work or accidents, can help you get to your destination on time. Here are four convenient ways to do just that.

Phone: You will be able to receive current traffic and airport information, special event and parking information, traffic times on highly used roadways, road conditions, and weather forecasts, simply by dialing 511 from a landline or mobile phone. 511 is also updated with specific public safety alerts, including AMBER and Silver alerts, as they occur. 511 also provides border wait times. The Arizona 511 traveler line can be accessed from outside the state by dialing 1-888-411-ROAD (7623).

Web: The road conditions you can check in real time, by following this link, include: crash/incident, delay/road work, road closures, information/activity, and weather. You can even receive a customized weekend report detailing any known, non-accident related, closures. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an ADOT app, at least not yet. However, if an app is what you’re looking for, AZ Traffic brings images from the Arizona Department of Transportation cameras to your iPhone.

Apps: One app that has people talking about it is Waze. Waze provides users with real-time traffic information and road alerts. The app also helps you navigate your way to the cheapest gas station on your route. As you drive along, the app will periodically notify you via pop-ups of incidents on the road ahead within a preset radius or along your chosen route, if you’ve set a destination. Road closures due to extensive construction are also accurately represented.

Twitter: Twitter users can get free traffic updates by following the Arizona Dot (@ArizonaDOT) feed. Arizona Dot provides updates throughout the state. The ADOT Twitter account does more; however, than just dish out trip information and tips, as the people behind it also interact personally with its followers. Questions commonly asked and answered on the feed include: “How does I-10 look between Phoenix and Tucson?” How are my Arizona vehicle registration fees calculated?;” and more.

Holiday Road Trip Safety Tips

Holiday Road Trip Safety Tips

The holidays are a time for celebrating with friends and family. However, the hectic pace of the holidays can also present several increased risks, such as: overcrowded roadways, adverse weather conditions, and limited daylight. Not to mention, drivers navigating unfamiliar terrain, as they make their way over the river and through the woods.

Then…there’s the fact that more than 90 percent of all those traveling for the holiday, will do so by personal automobile, according to AAA. This is an increase of 1.4 percent over last year. Why the increase? Low gas prices, of course! The national average price for a gallon of gasoline is expected to fall below $2.00 per gallon by Christmas Day.

To help ensure you and your loved ones stay safe during this year’s holiday season – Christmas and New Years – we’ve assembled some Holiday Road Trip Safety Tips that we hope will prevent distracted, risky driving while you’re on the go. We’ve also included suggestions for keeping clear of barricaded roadways and time consuming traffic incidents.

Our Top 6 Holiday Road Trip Safety Tips

#1. Make Sure Your Car’s Ready for Winter Travel

Please don’t go anywhere in your car, unless you’ve thoroughly ensured it’s ready for winter travel, as far too many cars go off the road every winter due to driver negligence. The lights, oil, tires, belts and hoses, brake and power steering fluid, antifreeze, battery, and snow chains should all be given the green flag by a professional mechanic before hitting the open road.

#2. Don’t Get Stranded on the Side of the Road

If you will be traveling quite a distance this holiday season, it is very important that you keep your smart phone fully charged, and loaded with helpful travel apps (e.g. Google Maps, Waze, Gasbuddy, Hotel Tonight, iExit Interstate Exit Guide, and more are all great apps). It would be wise to have a phone charger in your car; in the event you need to recharge your phone as it is a necessary component of winter travel.

#3. Pack an Emergency Road Side Assistance Kit

You should never leave home without an emergency road side assistance kit – especially in the winter. These are so simple to put together. Make sure you have items such as a flash light, flare, gloves, extra blankets, jumper cables, an emergency cell phone, and food/water. Prepare your kit as if you could be stranded for a few days as it’s always better to have more than to risk running out.

#4. Don’t Leave Your Pets in the Car

You’re probably already aware of the risks posed by warm weather and leaving your pets in hot cars, but did you know that cold weather can be equally dangerous to your beloved pet’s health. If Fido is joining you on your journey, don’t leave them in your car, not only for a moment. Just like people, pet’s are at risk of hypothermia, frost bite, and even death in extreme conditions. Don’t risk their health; bring them inside.

#5. Tell Someone Where You’re Going

One rule of thumb when traveling, no matter the weather, is to always tell someone where you’re headed. Include your chosen route. A quick text before you start driving, to a close friend or relative, is all it takes to let someone know what way you’re headed. If something were to happen, at least your contact will have an idea of where you were headed. This information could mean all the difference in the world. Just don’t advertise it.

#6. Stay Focused

Traveling in cold, icy, and/or snowy conditions are dangerous. That’s why it’s vital that you stay focused on the road. This means NO texting and driving, eating and driving, or looking becoming distracted by the kids and driving. If you find it necessary to do any of these, safely exit the road. Staying focused on the road ahead could save your life. If you get tired while driving, always pull off the road to take a power nap, or grab some coffee: black.

Other Holiday Road Trip Safety Tips

  • Buckle up! Even if you’re just running to the store for some last minute eggnog, remember to ALWAYS buckle up. Not only is it the law; you life also depends on it.
  • Don’t drink and drive! Does your celebration include drinking? Designate a designated driver before the fun begins. Remind others to do the same. If necessary, take the keys of all holiday guests, thus ensuring everyone’s safety.
  • Plan your route in advance! When planning your route, it’s a good idea to check traffic and weather reports in advance. While technology is great, it’s recommended to always carry a backup; so don’t forget to bring along a paper map.
  • Follow the rules of the road! Refrain from speeding, swerving in and out of lanes, or cutting other drivers off. Remember excess traffic may mean you’ll have to travel below posted speed limits. Don’t respond to aggressive drivers.

From your friends at Action Barricade Company LLC., we want to wish you a very happy and safe holiday!

Family Road Trip Survival Guide

family road trip

I love road trips! Just thinking of the many memories I’ve created, and will continue to create with my loved ones in tow, sends shivers of excitement down my spine. Road tripping, is my family’s preferred way of travel, as we enjoy venturing to area’s unknown and meeting new people along the way.

So how do you prepare for a family road trip? We each have our own way to ensure we’re ready, whether it’s a detailed packing list, or downloading your favorite songs and apps. Below you’ll find a collection of tips that can help you survive any road trip.

Plan Your Route Ahead of Time

You know your destination, but you have no idea what the best route is to take to avoid delay, or which pit stops you should make. You’ll save yourself, and your passengers, a lot of time and stress if you map out what route you plan on taking well in advance of your departure date.

Equally important, is to share your traveling dates and route with close family members or friends, just in case. One website that can help you plan your route as well as calculate costs, time, and distance is Roadtrippers. It’s also available as an iOS app.

Avoid Getting Hangry

Your energy is zapped, your stomach is rumbling, and you find yourself getting increasingly agitated – and to make matters worse the next exit is miles away. Your hunger has officially led to anger. Avoid getting hangry altogether by packing enough food to last you the entire road trip.

To avoid relying on junk food (which only zaps your energy that much quicker), pack healthier foods and drinks, even if it means bringing a cooler. You’ll thank us later. Some great options include energy bars, cheese sticks, nuts, and coffee as well as juice.

Pre-Charge All of Your Gadgets

Smartphones, tablets, e-book readers, portable DVD players; oh my! Dare we admit we can’t survive a road trip without these technologies? Probably not – and that’s okay. These technologies can, no doubt, make any family road trip more enjoyable; when they’re fully charged.

There’s nothing worse than getting an hour into an eight-hour trip and having one of the kid’s iPads run out of juice – let the backseat tug-of-war ensue. If you want to survive your road trip, make sure to fully charge all of your gadgets ahead of time, and bring plenty of extra batteries/chargers.

Download the Right Apps

A few must-have apps include Waze, which helps you navigate around traffic, and construction jams; iExit, which allows you to discover stop worthy restaurants and hotels, and other popular venues; and of course GasBuddy, which finds the cheapest gas. Available on both iOS and Android.

Err…On the Side of Caution

Opt for safety above all things – remember you’re hauling precious cargo! No matter how tight your schedule may be, it’s important to take plenty of breaks, stopping at scenic rest stops. Refrain from following too close to another driver, cutting them off, or honking your horn.

You never know what type of car troubles you’ll encounter on the road. That’s why it’s a smart idea to never leave home without a fully packed emergency road side kit. A road side kit should include the following tools and supplies:

  • Flash light(s)
  • Jumper cables
  • A first-aid kit
  • A bottle of fix-a-flat
  • Fire extinguisher (trust me)
  • Road flares or hazard triangles
  • A change of clothes, blankets, and food

Happy traveling from your friend’s at Action Barricade!

3 Ways to Handle Road Closures and Delays

road closures

Here are three proven ways to help yourself shorten your ride should you encounter road closures, barricades due to road construction, local events, accidents (which always seem to go hand-in-hand with lookie-loos) and other traffic delays.

#1: Check for Road Conditions Ahead of Time

If the road you normally travel on is closed due to road construction, natural disasters, or local events, you typically won’t know it until you’ve already begun your commute. But there are ways to check the status of a roadway and predict the possible delays before getting behind the wheel of your car.

Apps such as Waze (available on iOS and Android) let you check the status of a specific highway or street via information they receive from fellow users as well as the Arizona Department of Transportation. Putting a call into 511 will also inform you of any traffic delays due to accidents, construction, events, etc.

#2: Get a Heads-Up While in Commute

Few things are more frustrating than coming to a complete halt on your way home from a long day at work and being helpless to do anything about it until an exit appears or traffic clears. This is where those smartphones of ours can really come in handy.

Using the same sources listed in Tip #1, you can use your smartphone to check the status of the road ahead of you, while you’re driving. Simply place your phone in a hands-free mount and be alerted by fellow drivers before you approach police, accidents, road closures or those dreaded traffic jams.

#3: Put Plan B (or C) into Action to Get Ahead

In dire situations, when the roadway before you promises hour-plus delays, consider putting a plan b (or c) into action. I can’t stress the importance of this tip enough – as it really pays to plan alternative routes. These routes will allow you to take another road or highway to arrive home with your sanity intact.

Take for example: my go-to choice when traveling along Loop 101 is to jump onto the frontage road until I see traffic moving smoothly again. Some of the best ways to know if your alternative plan will shorten your ride is to travel them yourself, ask friends and family, and use smartphone apps.