'Messages From Mom' on freeway signs aim to curb distracted driving

Published: Sunday, April 09, 2017 @ 1:36 AM

"Messages From Mom" are lighting up Oregon's freeway signs.(Oregon Department of Transportation)

Drivers, beware: Mom's watching.

According to KTVL, Oregon's freeway signs are lighting up with mom-inspired advice under a state Department of Transportation campaign to put the brakes on distracted driving.

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The project, dubbed "Messages From Mom," includes missives such as, "Drop the phone because I said so, that's why" and "Put the phone away, I'm going to count to 3."

Drivers traveling on Interstate 5 in the southern part of the state will see the messages through the end of the month.

Read more here.

>> Click here to watch the news report from KTVL


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Butler County often among state leaders in train-vehicle wrecks, and it was well ahead last year

Published: Monday, March 05, 2018 @ 5:00 AM

With a study now finished, Hamilton officials have facts as foundation for train quiet-zone decisions

As in previous decades, Butler County during the past several years has led Ohio in railroad/vehicle crashes, outpacing more populous counties of Cuyahoga (home to Cleveland), Lucas (Toledo), Hamilton (Cincinnati), Wood (Bowling Green) and Summit (Akron).

Statistics for 2017 are not yet available, but during a recent period this decade, 25 Butler County crashes involving trains and vehicles led the state and accounted for 7.9 percent of such wrecks statewide. Following Butler were Cuyahoga and Lucas counties, each with 17; Hamilton, with 14; Wood with 13; and Summit with 12, according to Federal Railroad Administration data.

RELATED: Here’s an article from Sunday about Hamilton’s efforts to create quiet zones.

Butler also leads the state with injuries and deaths of trespassers on tracks, followed by Cuyahoga, Franklin (Columbus), Hamilton and Scioto (Portsmouth) counties.

Meanwhile, Ohio was tied for seventh in the nation (with Florida and Louisiana) for train/vehicle crashes. Leading the country were Texas, California and Illinois, according to the FRA statistics.

That comes as Hamilton considers creating railroad “quiet zones,” in which improvements are made to increase safety at individual railroad crossings — such as signal gates that completely extend across the highway or concrete medians that prevent vehicles from driving around the safety gates — to lessen the need for trains to blow their horns, except when an emergency is imminent.

According to Middletown Public Works Director Scott Tadych, Middletown has no railroad quiet zones.

“I know they were considered years ago,” he said.

Gena Miller Shelton, the state coordinator for Ohio Operation Lifesaver, which works to prevent train crashes and injuries or deaths involving people who shouldn’t be on railroad tracks, said her organization takes no position on the topic of quiet zones.

RELATED: Driver in deadly Middletown church van, train crash sent to prison

Operation Lifesafer “has no position on quiet zones, nor do my state agency partners,” Shelton said. “These issues are solely between the community and (Federal Railroad Association). That being said, traditionally Butler County is the top county for incidents in Ohio.”

Meanwhile, both the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and the FRA have put out recent news releases encouraging local communities to apply for funding to improve the safety of their public rail crossings.

RELATED:MORE ON TRAINS: Blocked rail crossings becoming fewer in Butler County

“With over 5,700 public rail grade crossings in Ohio, the PUCO works with local highway authorities and rail companies to ensure that rail operations and infrastructure are safe and in compliance with federal and state regulations,” the PUCO wrote in its November request that communities apply for funding.

The FRA, meanwhile, announced in mid-February that it has $73 million available for rail capital projects, including for improved railroad crossings.

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DOT reveals which airlines ranked highest for complaints in 2017

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 5:24 AM

WATCH: These Airlines Ranked Highest for Complaints in 2017

The U.S. Department of Transportation received 18,148 complaints about air travel in 2017.

It was a year when airline incidents were in the headlines, including a United passenger dragged from a plane and a Delta passenger mauled by an emotional support dog.

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The number of complaints about air travel to the federal government last year — which included complaints about airlines, tour operators and other travel industry companies — was up 1.3 percent from 2016, according to statistics for the year released recently by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The DOT logged 851 complaints about treatment of disabled passengers in 2017 and 98 complaints about discrimination, according to the department’s air travel consumer report.

>> On AJC.com: PHOTO GALLERY: Air travel complaints by category

Spirit Airlines, an ultra low-cost carrier, had the highest rate of complaints. A total of 11,570 of the complaints were about U.S. airlines, down slightly from 2016, while more than 6,000 complaints in 2017 were about foreign airlines.

Here’s the ranking of U.S. airlines based on the rate of complaints received by the DOT in 2017:

Airline — Complaints per 100,000 passengers boarding planes

  1. Southwest — 0.47
  2. SkyWest — 0.53
  3. Alaska — 0.57
  4. ExpressJet — 0.73
  5. Delta — 0.92
  6. Hawaiian — 0.95
  7. JetBlue — 1.14
  8. United — 1.89
  9. Virgin America — 1.92
  10. American — 1.96
  11. Frontier — 2.78
  12. Spirit — 5.59
Source: U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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Amtrak train derails in Savannah with more than 300 passengers on board

Published: Thursday, January 04, 2018 @ 2:17 AM

FILE PHOTO: An Amtrak train is seen as people board at the Miami station on May 24, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
FILE PHOTO: An Amtrak train is seen as people board at the Miami station on May 24, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Three cars on an Amtrak train with more than 300 passengers on board derailed while backing into the station in Savannah, Georgia, on Wednesday night, officials said.

The Silver Meteor train No. 98 was traveling from Miami to New York when the incident happened about 10 p.m. Wednesday, Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said.

“All three cars — a baggage car and two sleeper cars — are fully upright,” Abrams said.

Passenger Joel Potischman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he boarded shortly after 9 a.m. in Delray Beach, Fla., to head home to Brooklyn, New York.

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Along the way, winter storm weather affected the tracks and as the train approached the Savannah station, an announcement was made that a switch was frozen, Potischman said.

“The goal was to overshoot it and back in to the platform,” he said.

Instead, the switch apparently opened, causing the cars at the back of the train to derail.

Mike Zevon, another passenger, told the AJC the last three cars derailed.

Zevon took a photo from where he was seated, saying the 9813 car was about 4 feet to the left of where it should have been from his view.

“The last car is the baggage car and the other two are sleepers,” Zevon said. “No one is injured as of now. Last announcement said they were removing passengers who were ticketed for Savannah and they were still working on a plan to get us up north as safely as possible.”

There are about 311 passengers on board, Abrams said, and there were no reports of injuries to passengers or crew.

“The train is expected to continue north, with some of the sleeping car passengers being transferred to a different train,” Abrams said.

Potischman said people weren’t panicking. 

“Things are calm,” he said. “We’re in the car; they’ve not made any announcements about evacuating.”

Potischman said he assumes he’ll be late getting to Brooklyn, but isn’t worried.

“We’re holding tight,” he said.


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Arizona DOT gets silly with 'Dilly Dilly' sign

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 8:31 AM

The Arizona DOT used humor in its latest message to drivers.
Arizona DOT/Twitter
The Arizona DOT used humor in its latest message to drivers.(Arizona DOT/Twitter)

In an effort to encourage sober drivers over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Arizona Department of Transportation decided to get silly. Or is that dilly?

Television viewers are likely familiar with Budweiser's latest ad campaign, featuring a court in a vaguely medieval setting. Those in attendance who bring Bud Light receive an enthusiastic reception, with everyone saying, "Dilly, dilly!" Those who do not bring Bud Light are sent to the "pit of misery."

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The Arizona DOT sign reads, "Sober driver? Dilly! Dilly!"

In case you're wondering, Merriam-Webster defines dilly as "one that is remarkable or outstanding."

An Arizona DOT spokesman told azcentral.com that the agency often uses pop culture references in its messaging to connect with drivers.

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