February 28, 2020
Every year work zones pop up all over Iowa as soon as the weather starts to warm up. Preparing in advance to make those work zone as safe and efficient as possible is no easy feat. Designing a safe work zone is much more than just putting out some cones. There is a lot of data to analyze and best practices to follow to make sure a work zone keeps you moving toward your destination.
One of the key factors in a safe, efficient work zone is consistency. As a driver, you need to know what to expect when you see that “road work ahead” sign. In an effort to make work zones more consistent and centralize work zone best practices, the Iowa Department of Transportation has gathered information together in a Work Zone Reference Library. This online ‘toolbox’ will help Iowa DOT, county and city engineers, and our industry partners ensure each work zone is set up as consistently, effectively, and safely as possible.
Will you be donning a mask to celebrate Fat Tuesday tomorrow? If you’re behind the wheel after a few drinks during a Mardi Gras celebration, a mask isn’t going to hide your identity from law enforcement. The actions of a drunk driver can be extremely obvious to almost everyone but the drunk driver.
When the flooding started in Southwest Iowa in March 2019, few people expected the water to rise and fall relatively quickly, as it did during the 2011 floods. The cause of this round of flooding was complicated with snowmelt runoff from the north, heavy spring rains, and swollen tributaries feeding the Missouri River.
Nearly a year later, water still inundates a significant portion of several Southwest Iowa counties. Last Spring's heavy rainfall caused both the Missouri River and the Platte River that feeds it to swell, breaking through an intricate system of levees. With the levee system breached, powerful water ran freely through farmlands, towns, and the transportation system, impacting both state and county road and railroad lines. Local citizens were forced to find creative ways to get where they needed to go, often adding hours to each day’s commute. With more flooding predicted for Spring 2020, the Iowa DOT has been working non-stop on projects designed to reduce the traffic impacts more flooding could bring. One such project is on Iowa 2 near Nebraska City.
The third Monday in February was set as “Presidents’ Day” by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971. We’re not sure when the switch happened, but now, this holiday seems to be less about celebrating our nation’s leaders and more about getting a good deal on furniture or electronics.
Not that we’re against good deals. One of the best deals you’re going to get doesn’t cost you any additional money and actually comes as standard equipment with every vehicle sold in America – the seat belt. In the U.S., seat belts have been mandatory equipment in passenger vehicles sine the 1968 model year. That’s 52+ years of saving lives simply by clicking a belt around your body.
It’s no big deal to go five or ten miles over the speed limit, is it? Highway traffic safety officials set speed limits for a number of reasons. First, when traffic is traveling at a steady speed, drivers have a better idea of what to expect from other drivers. If you’re behind the wheel and moving much faster or slower than traffic, you have the potential to confuse the drivers around you, creating a higher potential for someone to do something unpredictable and cause a crash.
Another element in setting appropriate speed limits is the design of the road. Obviously, residential streets and interstates are going to have different speed limits. To help maintain consistency from town to town, the Iowa legislature has set standard speed limits (known as statutory speed limits) for some types of roads. These can be found in Iowa Code 321.285.
Punxsutawney Phil, what does the rodent know, anyway? Whether or not winter lasts two more weeks or two more months, the important thing is to be prepared if you’re going to drive in tricky weather conditions that can change in a heartbeat.
If it’s snowy or icy, the first question to ask yourself is, “Can this trip be postponed until conditions improve?” If you really need to be on the road, here are a few tips to help you arrive safely at your destination.