June 26, 2017
This is one of the biggest pet peeves the Iowa DOT hears from drivers. This pet peeve can also be dangerous. Driving slower than the speed limit or the flow of traffic in the left lane can cause rear-end collisions because approaching drivers are not expecting slower speeds in the “passing” lane.
So what makes the left lane the “passing” lane? The use of highway lanes is governed by Iowa Code section 321.297(2)
Here’s something I bet you didn’t know – it’s National Martini Day.
In true James Bond fashion, a good Martini is shaken, not stirred. A good driver is always sober. In the United States, statistics show someone dies in a crash involving a drunk driver every 51 minutes.
In 2016, 405 people died on Iowa highways. Of those, 120 died due to the bad choices made by an impaired driver. Think about it, we could cut Iowa traffic deaths by nearly 30 percent every year if people would simply designate a sober driver, call a taxi or rideshare, or just stay put when impaired.
Integrated roadside vegetation management – it’s just a fancy term for putting things back the way they were when buffalos roamed Iowa prairies. In the 1940s, 50s, and 60s when most Iowa roadways were originally built, roadside plantings were not a main focus before, during, or after highway construction. Planting non-native species along the road was inexpensive and seemed to work just fine to cover the area.
By the 1980s, roadside erosion and water quality started becoming a problem. The Iowa Department of Transportation’s roadside development group began researching the underlying issues causing these problems. This lead them to advocate for a transformation of roadsides back to deep-rooted native prairie plantings to stabilize the soil and provide filtration for water runoff.
“Asleep at the Wheel” may be a great name for a country music group, but it’s a horrible way to drive. Even a driver who’s a little bit drowsy can exhibit some of the same dangerous behaviors as a drunk driver.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, being awake for 18 hours straight makes you drive like you have a blood alcohol level of .05 (for reference, .08 is considered legally drunk). If you’ve been awake for a full 24 hours and drive—say, after a night where you just couldn’t fall asleep—it’s like you have a blood alcohol level of .10. Driving drowsy, like driving drunk, leads to slower reaction times, and impaired attention, mental processing, judgment, and decision making.
Able to explain complicated processes to a customer who is confused or angry before a conversation begins. Sounds like it may just be the work a superhero is made of. But in reality, it is the exciting challenge the team in the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Driver & Identity Service’s Information Center takes on every day in many different ways.
So maybe you buckle up with others in the car, but you think that it’s a personal decision whether or not to click that buckle when you are by yourself. Debris on the road, actions of another driver, an animal running in front of you or a multitude of other reasons can cause you to swerve or lose control.
If there’s nothing holding you back, you could find yourself bouncing around your vehicle, and maybe even ripped from behind the wheel. The ripple effects of that crash go far beyond you as the driver.
Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone. But that’s a dangerous place to be if you’re in law enforcement. Preparing our law enforcement motor vehicle investigators for any difficult situation is the purpose of a targeted training program developed in collaboration with Iowa Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Investigation & Identity Protection and Office of Strategic Communications and Hawkeye Community College.
Mike Athey, director of the Iowa DOT’s Bureau of Investigation & Identity Protection, said, “I have no greater responsibility than ensuring the safe return home for each and every investigator at the end of a shift. The firearms training that is typically conducted twice per year focuses on proficiency upon a stationary target. Although this type of training is mandated and customary in law enforcement, it doesn’t put in perspective the complexity of a situation one may find him or herself in.”