Raleigh - The following are highlights from this week at the N.C. Department of Transportation. The below stories are also featured in our weekly newscast, N.C. Transportation Now, which can be viewed by clicking here.
Parents Reminded of Importance of Bicycle Helmet Safety
With warm weather upon us and most schools out for summer break, state transportation officials are reminding parents about the importance of bicycle helmet safety. An average of 20 bicyclists are killed each year while riding in North Carolina; one in six is under age 16.
Although studies show that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a severe brain injury by 88 percent and North Carolina law requires helmets for bicyclists under age 16, less than 50 percent of children typically wear one.
To make sure all families have access to bicycle helmets, DOT helps distribute them to low-income children through schools, police departments and other groups. Revenue from the "Share the Road" specialty license plate funds the initiative, which has made thousands of helmets available to children in need.
Stay Safe by Staying off the Tracks
As part of Governor Pat McCrory's efforts to improve transportation safety, DOT also is working to curb train-related crashes, fatalities and injuries in the state.
So far in 2016, nine people in North Carolina have died after being struck by a train, and 18 people have been injured. Being on railroad tracks for any reason is dangerous - and illegal. Trains in North Carolina operate up to 79 miles per hour and can take more than a mile to come to a complete stop. Safety blitzes, such as one conducted last week in Mebane, are one way that DOT and its partners are reminding people that "Tracks are for trains. Stay away and stay alive."
For your safety, follow these tips:
Obey all signs and signals at railroad crossings. Look both ways, listen and proceed with caution.
Never stop your car on railroad tracks, and never cross tracks when the gates are down.
Be mindful that trains may operate at any time throughout the day and night in either direction.
Public Encouraged to Participate in Upcoming Meetings on Transportation Priorities
State transportation officials encourage the public to participate in upcoming public meetings and provide feedback on potential regional and local transportation projects. This feedback will help the department determine which projects to include in the next version of the State Transportation Improvement Program -the 10-year plan that identifies funding for projects and schedules them for construction.
The meetings will be informal and will take place in each of DOT's 14 local divisions from June 20 until July 22. DOT division staff will be available to discuss projects and answer questions. Comments will be accepted until July 22, and will be considered in the final project rankings.
The transportation department uses data and local input to determine which projects receive funding in the 10-year plan based on a funding formula championed by Governor Pat McCrory to reduce congestion, increase safety and promote economic growth, as well as take the politics out of transportation decision-making. The new funding formula became law in 2013 and was used for the first time to develop the department's current 10-year plan, which funded 300 more projects, supporting 126,000 more jobs than under the old funding formula.