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.

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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.

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!

Preventing Wrong-Way Traffic Accidents

wrong-way traffic accident prevention

It’s every driver’s worst nightmare – a car headed in the wrong direction. When wrong-way accidents occur, the results are often devastating as most collisions occur head first, with little or no warning, and at high rates of speed. Over the last year, the state has experienced a rash of wrong-way accidents, including three consecutive accidents that occurred last May in or around the Phoenix area. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, most of these accidents involve drivers who are impaired by either drugs or alcohol.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, driving the wrong-way or on the wrong side of the road, factored into 3.1 percent of all fatal crashes within the U.S (NHTSA, 2009). While that may not sound like a very big number, compared to the 1.3 million involved in other types of accidents, but it’s shocking enough to warrant attention. Especially when you consider all of the traffic control signage and medians that are in place on state highways preventing just that.

In an effort to remedy the problem, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has begun testing radar-based systems aimed at detecting wrong way drivers, in three separate locations throughout Phoenix. The systems are designed to alert highway patrol officers when a wrong way driver enters a freeway. The system also alerts other drivers through the use of freeway message boards. The test is part of a larger effect by ADOT to reduce, if not eliminate, wrong-way crashes.

In addition to the electronic system, ADOT is also considering lowering “wrong way” signs to eye level for easier viewing, as well as increasing the amount of raised pavement marking that are currently installed on select off-ramps. The markings are invisible in the correct direction of traffic, but reflect a bright red light if viewed by a wrong-way driver. While the survey ends next month, the electronic signage which is currently installed at the following locations, is expected to remain.

  • The northbound exit at Interstate 17 at Carefree Highway
  • The eastbound Interstate 10 at Ray Road
  • The northbound Loop 101, off-ramp, at Thunderbird Road

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