National Work Zone Awareness Week, a national campaign intended to help increase public awareness of work zone safety, is being observed this month. The theme for this year’s ninth annual event is “Slow for the Cone Zone.”
Work zone activity is increasing, as many of the nation’s roads are in need of maintenance and repair. Much of the construction is occurring on roads that are already congested from high traffic, causing additional delays and frustration for drivers.
Complicating matters, severe traffic congestion during the daytime is causing road construction crews to do more work at night. This has a number of drawbacks. Chief among them are the darkness itself, which makes visibility poorer at night, even with lighting towers, and speed. With less overall traffic at night, drivers tend to drive faster.
Studies have shown that crash rates at night increase by a higher percentage (65 percent) during roadwork activity than crash rates during daytime roadwork activities (25 percent).
Work zones pose many risks because of congestion and activity from personnel and equipment. More than 1,000 people per year have been killed, and more than 40,000 injured, in motor vehicle crashes in work zones in the past few years.
Here are some recommendations from traffic safety officials to share with your drivers to help them avoid the hazards and dangers in work zones.

  • Pay attention to the signs. Bright-orange diamond-shaped warning signs are posted well in advance of road construction projects.
  • If you see a “flagman ahead” warning sign, stay alert and be prepared to obey the flagman’s directions. In a work zone, a flagman has the same authority as a regulatory sign, so you can be cited for disobeying a flagman’s instructions.
  • Turn on your headlights so workers and other motorists can more clearly see you. Always be attentive, slow down and check your speed. Reduced speed limits may be posted. Traffic fines may be doubled for violations in work zones.
  • Be prepared to merge or change lanes as directed by markers, signs or flagmen.
  • Watch for stopped or slowing traffic, as well as slow-moving construction vehicles.
  • Increase your following distance. Rear-end collisions are the most common work zone accidents.
  • Stay in your lane and do not try to pass or change lanes.
  • Minimize distractions. Avoid changing radio stations, fiddling with the CB or talking on a cell phone.
  • Expect the unexpected. Workers and equipment may be working on or very close to traffic lanes.
  • Traffic lane widths are often reduced and traffic patterns changed. Detours may be required.
  • Some work zones — such as line painting and road patching — are mobile, moving along as the work is finished. Just because you don’t see workers immediately after you see the warning signs doesn’t mean there isn’t a work zone.
  • Observe posted work zone signs until you see the one that tells you you’ve left the work zone.
  • Be patient. Roadway construction projects may add some delay to your trip but such projects will improve highway conditions and promote safer driving for all motorists.

Transportation news

Volvo Group used the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) to unveil seven heavy-duty carbon-dioxide-neutral straight trucks powered by fuels from renewable raw materials.
With sophisticated engine technology and minor modifications, Volvo adapted the diesel engine to run on renewable fuels.
The seven fuels Volvo is evaluating are: biodiesel, synthetic diesel, dimethylether (DME), methanol/ ethanol, biogas, biogas and biodiesel, and hydrogen and biogas.
“Because these alternative fuels come from renewable raw materials, they emit no excess carbon dioxide CO2 to the atmosphere, and thus do not contribute to the greenhouse effect,” says Leif Johansson, Volvo Group’s chief executive officer.
Beyond that, he says the fuels were chosen because they have the least impact on energy efficiency, land use efficiency, fuel potential, vehicle adaptation, fuel cost and fuel infrastructure.

International Truck & Engine, within the Financing page on its Web site — — has information to help truck owners learn more about the Federal Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. The stimulus plan not only provides benefits for individual taxpayers, it offers significant incentives to spur business investment.
The provisions of the law allow for a bonus depreciation of an additional 50 percent for qualifying equipment purchased and placed into service in this year. This permits businesses to depreciate more of an asset’s cost up front.

Coca-Cola Enterprises, Atlanta, is purchasing 120 new trucks this year powered by Eaton’s hybrid electric drivetrain systems. This follows the beverage company’s purchase of 20 trucks with the Eaton systems in 2007.
Extensive testing and evaluations conducted by Coca-Cola found that Eaton’s hybrid-electric drivetrain equipped trucks decreased emissions by roughly 32 percent and fuel consumption by up to 37 percent, compared to conventionally powered trucks in its fleet. Coca-Cola also reported lower maintenance costs on the hybrid-powered trucks.
Eaton employs parallel-type, diesel-electric hybrid architecture with its Fuller UltraShift automated transmission. It incorporates an electric motor/generator between the output of an automated clutch and input of the transmission. The system recovers energy normally lost during braking and stores the energy in batteries.
When electric torque is blended with engine torque, the stored energy is used to improve fuel economy and vehicle performance for a given speed, or used to operate the vehicle with electric power only.