Iowa DOT News

Summer 2008 news tips

It’s time to freshen up on bicycle safety

signs of spring photoBreak out the spandex, it’s bicycle weather! After an especially harsh winter, many Iowans are enjoying the warm weather on bikes. Whether you’re an experienced rider or just learning to ride, bicycle safety is an important skill for all cyclists to practice. The best way to keep yourself safe is to always wear a helmet.

Of the 450 bicyclists injured in Iowa in 2007, seven were killed, up from the 433 injuries and five fatalities in 2006. Head injuries cause 75 percent of the nation’s more than 500 annual bicycle deaths. Medical research shows that bike helmets can prevent 85 percent of cyclists' head injuries.

When choosing a helmet, look for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sticker and a brightly colored outer shell. The most important thing to examine when selecting a helmet is fit. The helmet should fit comfortably snug and sit level on your head. Most importantly, when fastened, a proper fitting helmet should never come off your head by any combination of twisting and pulling. If it comes off or slips enough to leave large areas of your head unprotected, re-adjust the straps or try another helmet.

Visit the following link to brush up on laws and safety guidelines pertaining to bicycling, and order or view a map showing the many bike trails Iowa has to offer.

Visit the following Web site to view laws and safety guidelines pertaining to bicycling ---

Milly Ortiz, Office of Systems Planning, 515-233-7733,

Motorcycle safety

Motorcycle safety imageIn 2007, Iowa suffered 57 fatal motorcycle crashes, resulting in 61 fatalities (up from 2006). The Iowa DOT urges all motorcyclists to practice safe and responsible driving. Most motorcycle crashes involve speeding or impaired driving, others result when the riders are not detected. Remember to obey the laws, use good judgment, practice safe driving, and wear a helmet and high-visibility apparel.

By the numbers:
Find out who is most likely to use helmets based on age and gender
View the circumstances that contributed to 2007 fatal crashes
Examine motorcycle license and crash data history spanning 1960 to 2007

Toni Kerkove, Office of Driver Services, 319-235-8032,

DOT’s scenic byways Web site gets a makeover

Now, the scenic byways Web site is as beautiful as the byways themselves...well…almost. Check out the re-design of the site and discover how you can bypass traffic and find yourself immersed in Iowa’s natural beauty. Iowa's eight state-designated and two nationally-designated scenic byways are a great way to experience the state’s natural beauty, history and culture. Visit the Web site to learn more about Iowa’s byways or obtain a brochure to help plan your next trip.

Visit the scenic byways Web site

Troy Siefert, Office of Systems Planning, 515-239-1369,

Jump into the pool

If you’re looking for a way to beat the heat at the gas pump, jump into the pool! Carpools and vanpools are a great way to save time, money and strain on the environment. The Iowa DOT recommends taking advantage of local transit services or carpools/vanpools.

Central Iowa RideShare matches you with other commuters who live and work near you. If you don't find a convenient carpool location, organize one at work. Put up a map in the break room inviting interested employees to mark their residences. Register your carpool with Central Iowa RideShare for incentives and tips on keeping your carpool a success. In addition, many employers offer rewards for carpooling such as designated parking spots.

Visit the following Web sites to learn more about money-saving options for the work day commute:

Michelle McEnany, Modal Division, 515-239-1659,

Teen driver safety

Driving or riding in a motor vehicle is THE MOST dangerous activity a teen can do. Motor vehiclecrashes are the number one cause of death among teens ages 15-19 in the United States. They represent 41.4 percent of all deaths in that age group. In Iowa, teens (ages 14-19) have a higher fatality rate in motor vehicle crashes than any other age group.

In 2002-2006, 119 teens, ages 14 to 17, died in a crash while riding in a vehicle driven by a teen. (Iowa DOT) When parents are in the vehicle, teen drivers rarely crash. Take mom, dad, or guardian out of the vehicle, and the crash rate increases 700 percent; seat belt use drops to less than 40 percent. (Teenage Drivers: Patterns of Risk, Journal of Safety Research, 2003)

The dangers facing teen drivers may come as no surprise to moms and dads. But what parents may not know is what they can do to prevent these tragic injuries and fatalities.

To learn more about teen driver safety and identify resources visit ---

To help parents of new drivers, the DOT offers a booklet online called "You’re the Coach." Go to print the booklet.

Signs of summer

As summer approaches, blossoming flowers are not the only display of vibrant color sprouting up along Iowa roads. Orange construction signs are already out in large numbers again this year as another season of road work heats up. By November, the DOT is expected to have had up to 500 road construction and maintenance work zones. Combined with the work of cities, counties and utility companies, motorists can expect to see thousands of work zones during this construction season.

These work zones require extra caution on the part of drivers. Work zone related crashes result in injuries, fatalities, and thousands of dollars in vehicle and property damage. Most work zone collisions are rear-end crashes that occur in the daylight hours on dry pavement. It is imperative for drivers to pay close attention to the movement of traffic around them, as well as the location of road workers whose jobs often put them extremely close to traffic.

Visit the following Web site to view work zone safety guidelines from the Iowa DOT --- Move Over, Slow Down law ---

Pavement Blow-ups

Motorists traveling in Iowa should remain aware that the mercury might not be the only thing to rise during the sweltering summer heat. Pavement blowups occur when thermal expansion forces the pavement to buckle and shatter.

"When you have a wet period followed by a hot week, you get a super heating condition and some pavements will blow up," says Kevin Mahoney, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Highway Division.

"Iowa DOT maintenance equipment operators spend 2,000 to 4,000 hours making temporary repairs of pavement blowups and another 6,000 hours replacing these pavement sections, costing $400,000 each year. Many of the blowups only result in a spall, pothole or small chunks of concrete lying around the pavement joints, but they must still be repaired," said William Zitterich, Iowa DOT’s Office of Maintenance.

The Iowa DOT urges motorists to pay special attention to pavement surfaces when driving during afternoons with 90-degree or hotter temperatures. Use caution and reduce your speed when approaching broken pavement areas.

Unlike scheduled maintenance, pavement blowups occur spontaneously and motorists receive little or no warning in the initial minutes following a blowup. Once a blowup is reported, it takes time to erect a work zone and notify the public.

Motorists who witness a pavement blowup are asked to contact the nearest law enforcement agency to ensure traffic is routed around the blowup until work zone signage and repair crews are on the scene.

Contact: William Zitterich, 515-239-1396 or


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