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.

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.

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.

4 Ways to Avoid a Speeding Ticket

According to the National Motorists Association, more than 41 million drivers throughout the United States are ticketed each year for speed related incidents alone.

And that’s not even the best part. $6,232,000,000 – is the average amount of revenue the U.S. receives from speeding tickets alone yearly! This means the average ticket costs $152.00.

When it comes to receiving a traffic ticket – which just so happens to be the bane of any driver’s existence – the long-accepted rule of thumb has been to pay it no matter what it costs.

The reality of this situation, however, is that there are ways to ensure you don’t get ticketed in the first place. The best of which is to obey the rules of the road – many are posted in plain sight!

  1. Adhere to the Speed Limit

How fast can you go over the posted speed limit before you can reasonably expect to see flashing lights in your rearview mirror? The answer to this question is quite possibly one of life’s greatest mysteries.

If you were to Google this question you would see many vague answers. However, some websites will provide you with the answer of 5 to 10 mph, which is considered by many a speeding “cushion.”

No, this doesn’t mean you should go out right now and test this “cushion”. If anything, you should at all costs adhere to the road’s posted speed limit, as each city and state’s cushioning amount varies.

Although they’re a bummer – especially for those that have a need for speed – speed limits are posted for a reason. Just some of the factors considered include the roadway’s condition and traffic amount as well as an area’s environmental conditions.

  1. Pay Attention to the Road

Distracted driving is a growing – not to mention, dangerous – epidemic that has been sweeping the nation. Even taking your hands off the wheel is a distraction, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Driving while distracted – talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, drinking, putting on make-up – doesn’t only endanger your life; it also endangers the safety of everyone around you including other drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

Did you know that sending or reading a text message causes a driver’s eyes to stray from the road for 4.6 seconds, which if they’re driving at a speed of 65 mph, is the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field blind?

Considering that texting and driving is, by far, the most dangerous form of distracted driving there is; it has been banned in 44 states; talking while driving has also been banned in 12 states.  It pays to pay attention to the road; trust me!

  1. Slow Down in Construction and School Zones

Speeding – even if you’re doing the normal speed limit – while in a school or construction zone is one of the easiest things you can do to earn yourself a ticket and a hefty one at that.

Unless you’re a novice driver, it shouldn’t surprise you that in zones marked specifically for school or construction, you’re undoubtedly going to notice a reduced speed limit – regardless of whether children or workers are present or not.

The only difference is that should you get caught speeding (doing one mile over in this case is considered speeding) when children or workers are present you’ll be looking at a ticket worth double the price of a normal speeding ticket.

You should assume, as long as barricades or signs are still present, that these reduced speed limits are still in effect. Lower speeds in these zones are there not to annoy you but to protect everyone nearby.

  1. Be a Courteous Driver

Whether a driver is tailgating, improperly changing lanes, or failing to yield at a stop sign – you know you’re guilty of at least one of these – today’s drivers don’t always drive as they should.

Want to hear the worst part? All of these maneuvers are reckless, which means you could be putting your safety and that of someone else’s at risk. Equally important is the fact that police officers monitor this type of driving very closely.

Although not exactly a surprise, driving maneuvers such as these often lead to aggressive driving and road rage. While it is true that you can’t control what other drivers are doing; you can control how you’re driving.

Have Road Rage? Learn How to Suppress It…

{Source: Wikipedia}

{Source: Wikipedia}

I’ve never really understood it – I’m really a sweetheart by nature – but unfortunately Arizona’s traffic just really makes my skin crawl.

But, I’m not alone!

I’m sure many of you are thinking the same thing.  Why does an entire highway – one with 4 or more lanes, I might add – have to literally slow to a crawl because of lookie-loos’?

Sometimes’ for no apparent reason whatsoever!

With more and more drivers on the road, than in the past decade or so, our highways have been becoming increasingly crowded.  So much so that many of our commute times have nearly doubled.

When we sit inside our vehicles – frustrated with traffic – we’re sometimes just not as polite as we should be.

It’s when traffic is bumper to bumper, a driver is speeding, or we feel rushed that we tend to tailgate, make impolite gestures, change lanes without signaling (I for one see this a LOT), and/or honk the horn at the car in front of us, etc.

Sound familiar?

According to a recent study – completed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – 60 percent of the drivers surveyed consider this type of driving a threat to their health and safety.

And, there’s a name for it – AGGRESSIVE DRIVING.

Aggressive driving is defined by “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” {Source: NHTSA}

Aggressive driving can escalate into road rage which puts all drivers at risk due to the increased risk of a car accident.

Those that experience road rage, according to WebMD, may be facing increased stress, tension, fatigue, or anger in their daily lives.

For the purpose of this blog, we’re going to discuss some of the techniques you can do to remain a courteous and defensive driver, by suppressing road rage.

Together, we can make our highways a safer place, for all drivers.  If you would like more information on how we at Action Barricade can help please call 602-288-6350.

Take Deep Calming Breathes

By practicing the art, of taking deep calming breathes, you can help reduce your anxiety and stress.  In fact, according to The American Institute of Stress, deep breathing will increase the amount of blood in your blood as well as release tension.

Focusing on your breathing for 20 to 30 minutes per day (what a coincidence that you just happen to spend this time in your vehicle) makes it easy for you to remain focused on staying calm and relaxed without needing to take your eyes off the road.

Listen to Music

Listening to music is, in fact, one of the things I personally do to remain calm when I’m stuck in traffic.  You can also listen to audio-books.  I do, however, recommend avoid any violent music or audio-books (just to be safe).

Organize Your Schedule

One of the best ideas I ran across during my research, was the idea of organizing (or reorganizing if need be) our schedules, in order to avoid the stress that comes with feeling rushed.

Managing your time wisely, planning for traffic, or leaving early allows you to feel a more relaxed because you won’t really be in such a rush.

Count to 10

Counting to 10, or 20, or whatever number it takes to accept that your trip is going to take an undetermined amount of time longer due to traffic.  Counting is basically one of the many cognitive-behavioral intervention tools you can do to alleviate some of your everyday stress.