Friday, May 20, 2011

Siemens to Build Streetcars for Atlanta

/PRNewswire/ -- Siemens Industry, Inc. today announced that it has been awarded a $17.2 million contract from Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), on behalf of the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, to provide Atlanta with four new streetcars. The first car is expected to be delivered in September 2012 with revenue service beginning in early 2013. These will be the first streetcars in Atlanta since 1949 and will mark Siemens entry into the streetcar market in the United States.

"The Atlanta Streetcar project will keep the City of Atlanta competitive with other cities by improving our transit connectivity, boosting our tourism industry, helping local businesses, and building a more sustainable future," Mayor Reed said. "Our agreement with Siemens will ensure that we have modern, world-class vehicles along the route to serve Atlanta residents and visitors for years to come."

The streetcars will be built at Siemens' railcar and locomotive plant in Sacramento, Calif., an operation powered primarily by two megawatts of solar energy. Additionally, major components including the propulsion system will be built at Siemens manufacturing facility in the metro-Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta.

"An investment in the core of the city, in Downtown Atlanta, is good for all of the metropolitan area," said Craig Jones, Executive Vice President & Chief Investment Officer with Cousins Properties, Inc. "In just 4 years we've seen a complete transformation in One Ninety One Peachtree Tower as well as along the rest of the Peachtree corridor with new restaurants, retail, office, tenants and now the Atlanta Streetcar. We're proud to be a part of this resurgence."

Streetcars are part of the first phase of Atlanta's project to create a comprehensive, regional streetcar and light rail transit system. The streetcars will initially run in a loop, bridging the gap between east and west downtown that was formed by the development of the I-75/85 connector. The new system will provide connectivity for the core of downtown Atlanta, improving accessibility to key business destinations and event venues. The system will also serve as the catalyst for transit oriented development within the loop.

"Siemens is a firm with a proven track record and an exceptional product. At MARTA, it is exciting to work with our partners to introduce this new generation of modern, low-floor rail transit to the greater Atlanta region," said Dr. Beverly A. Scott, General Manager and CEO, MARTA. "This streetcar starter line serves the historic Martin Luther King Center and connects to MARTA and the heart of the Capitol city at Peachtree Center."

The four new streetcars are based on the proven Siemens S70 light rail vehicle platform, which was designed in the United States and is in operation in cities such as Houston, Charlotte, San Diego, Portland and Salt Lake City. The streetcars were purchased through an existing contract with the Utah Transit Authority and will be customized to meet Atlanta's operating environment. The streetcars are fully upgradeable for future light rail operation as the regional system grows.

"Siemens S70 streetcar was designed for and will be built right here in the United States," said Daryl Dulaney, President and CEO of Siemens Industry, Inc. "We look forward to working with the city of Atlanta to provide a safe, efficient and versatile means to connect within the City that will help residents and visitors get where they need to go now and in the future."

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Ford and Georgia Tech Partner on "Green Eco School Bus" - Nation's First Hydraulic Hybrid School Bus Conversion

/PRNewswire/ -- The Ford Motor Company Fund and the Georgia Institute of Technology are partnering on the nation's first conversion of a traditional school bus to a hydraulic hybrid vehicle that runs on recycled biofuel. Atlanta Public Schools (APS) donated the bus for the project.

Conducted by Georgia Tech, the project is financed by a $50,000 Ford College Community Challenge Grant, one of five given annually for a student-led project that matches university resources with an urgent community need related to sustainability. This project focuses on converting existing school buses into hydraulic hybrids, which could lower greenhouse emissions and reduce transportation costs for schools.

Michael Leamy, Georgia Tech assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and his students have designed and developed the hydraulic hybrid system for the 16-passenger school bus, and its installation is nearly complete.

Students at Mary Lin Elementary School are painting "the Green Eco School Bus" green and organizing a drive to collect used cooking oil for processing into biodiesel, a renewable energy source.

"Together with Georgia Tech and Atlanta Public Schools, we are taking innovation from the classroom to the community," said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. "This is a noteworthy example of the types of programs we are bringing to Atlanta as part of our new Operation Goodwill partnership with local Ford and Lincoln dealers with the goal of expanding our engagement with this community."

This project includes a cost-benefit analysis of a large-scale conversion of a school bus fleet to hydraulic hybrid powertrains designed to recover lost braking energy. Leamy said, "We expect our research will lead to cleaner, more efficient school buses that will help school districts like APS significantly reduce fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions."

Atlanta Public School officials are using the project to educate the next generation about green energy. "Our students are eager to learn about new ways to care for the environment," said Brian Mitchell, principal, Mary Lin Elementary. "The Green Eco School Bus turns a theoretical concept into a fun and exciting reality that stimulates their learning."

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Boaters Urged to Slow Down, Watch Out for Sea Turtles and Manatees

Boat strikes are a common cause of sea turtle strandings and manatee injuries and deaths. Manatees and all sea turtle species found in Georgia are protected by federal and state laws.

Tips on what to watch for in the coast’s murky waters differ. A “footprint” of swirls may mark a 1-ton manatee underwater. A 300-pound loggerhead sea turtle may show only its head when it surfaces.
The best advice: Be aware, and be prepared to slow down or steer clear.

State Sea Turtle Program Coordinator Mark Dodd of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said that while sea turtles are considered common on the ocean side of barrier islands, they also frequent tidal waters. “Any time you’re in the salt marsh areas, that’s a place to look for turtles,” Dodd said.

Manatees drawn north by warming waters and abundant marsh grass and other vegetation are found in all Georgia tidal rivers, estuaries and near-shore marine waters, mostly east of Interstate 95. In recent weeks, natural resources biologist Clay George of the DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section has heard about manatees, or sea cows, sighted near Kings Bay naval submarine base, around Jekyll Island and in the Ogeechee River.

George said heeding low-speed and no-wake zones will reduce collision risks. So will sticking to the main channels when boating in tidal rivers and creeks. He said manatees “are often right along the edge of the marsh,” feeding on Spartina alterniflora, or salt marsh cordgrass.

Boaters who hit a manatee or sea turtle are urged to stand-by and immediately contact the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16 or DNR at 800-2-SAVE-ME (800-272-8363). This provides biologists the best chance to help the animal and gather valuable scientific data. Boaters will not be charged if they were operating their boat responsibly and the collision was an accident.

Boaters and others are also encouraged to report any dead manatees and sea turtles they see. (If the turtle is tagged, include the tag color and number in the report if possible.) DNR monitors sea turtle and manatee mortality through the Marine Turtle and Marine Mammal Stranding and Salvage Networks. The information gleaned, including from necropsies to evaluate cause of death, provides the primary index for threats to sea turtles and marine mammals in coastal waters.

Dodd said 51 sea turtle strandings have been reported this year in Georgia, including 18 last week. The total is up compared to recent years, and may reflect an increase of turtles in coastal waters. Boat collisions accounted for nearly 30 percent of the strandings.

No manatee mortalities have been documented in Georgia so far this year. About 25 percent of manatee mortalities in Georgia waters are caused by boat collisions.

Sea turtle strandings online
Regular updates available at www.georgiawildlife.com/node/1325 (click the “Reported Strandings” box).

See a manatee?

If you see or photograph a healthy, injured or dead manatee, please contact DNR at (800) 2-SAVE-ME or (912) 269-7587. Please note the date, time, location and number of manatees seen, as well as the coordinates, if possible. Photographs of scars on their backs and tails are especially useful because they can often be used to identify previously known manatees.

Manatees occasionally gather in mating “herds.” These groups of males following a female in estrus can include as many as 20 manatees.

Taking care for manatees

Here are some other ways Georgia residents can help protect manatees:
Look around for manatees before cranking your boat’s motor.
Use caution when navigating in shallow water and along the edge of a marsh. Manatees cannot dive away from boats in these areas.
Please heed “slow speed,” “no wake” and manatee warning signs, especially around docks.
Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare, making it easier to spot manatees below the surface.
Watch for large swirls in the water called footprints that may be caused by manatees diving away from the boat.
Dock owners should never feed manatees or give them fresh water. This could teach the animals to approach docks, putting them at greater risk of a boat strike.
Never pursue, harass or play with manatees. It is bad for the manatees and is illegal.

Help protect Georgia’s nongame wildlife

Help conserve endangered and other nongame wildlife through buying a bald eagle or ruby-throated hummingbird license plate, contributing to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund through the state income tax checkoff or donating directly to the fund. Each option provides vital support for the DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section, which receives no state general funds for its mission to conserve wildlife not legally hunted, fished for or trapped, as well as rare plants and natural habitats.

Visit www.georgiawildlife.com for more information, or call Nongame Conservation offices in Social Circle (770-761-3035), Forsyth (478-994-1438) or Brunswick (912-264-7218).

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Start Your (Golf Car) Engines

/PRNewswire/ -- Golf cars will be allowed on many local Georgia streets effective Jan. 1, 2012, thanks to a bill signed  by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Known as Georgia Senate Bill 240, it creates a new class of motor vehicle called personal transportation vehicles (PTVs), which are built on "golf car-like" chassis.

The measure will allow PTVs that meet safety requirements to be driven on roads. That means residents of many communities will be able to shop, take their children to school and parks, and run other errands in their golf cars.

"This bill will allow Georgia families to stretch their transportation dollars and use green energy for miles of local driving. It also gives municipalities throughout the state a common framework for the safe and responsible use of PTVs," says Michael Alexander, Club Car's director of global business development. Club Car is the world's largest manufacturer of small-wheel, zero-emissions electric vehicles.

Qualifications and Safety Standards

To qualify as a PTV, vehicles must have at least four wheels, weigh 1,375 pounds or less, have a top speed of 20 mph or less, and transport no more than eight people.

In addition, they must be equipped with specific safety apparatus, including:

* A braking system that is sufficient for the weight and passenger capacity, including a parking brake.
* A reverse warning device that is functional at all times when the directional control is in the reverse position.
* A main power switch. When the switch is in the "off" position, or the key or other activating device is removed, the motive power circuit must be inoperative. If the switch uses a key, it can be removable only in the "off" position.
* Head and tail lamps
* Reflex reflectors
* A horn
* A rearview mirror
* Safety warning labels
* Hip restraints and hand holds


Golf cars manufactured after 2004 generally have all, or most, of the required safety equipment. Your local Club Car dealer can upgrade your golf car to meet these standards, if needed. To find a dealer near you, visit www.clubcar.com and click "Dealer Locator."

According to Alexander, who also serves as president of the National Golf Car Manufacturers Association, he and other members will work with leaders of the Georgia Municipal Association to draft a model ordinance that defines licensing and usage guidelines. Please check with your municipality if you have questions about PTV usage in your community.

The bill does not apply to all-terrain vehicles or mobility aids, such as power wheelchairs and scooters.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

U.S. Imports of Auto-related Goods from Japan Expected to Decline

/PRNewswire/ -- The automobile industry is the largest U.S. importer of goods shipped via container transport from Japan, giving auto manufacturing and support businesses the greatest threat of disruption as Japan's industrial output struggles following the devastating earthquake and tsunami, according to data and analysis from The Journal of Commerce/PIERS. Japan is the No. 3 exporter of containerized goods to the United States, according to PIERS data, behind China and Korea. The country is second, behind only China, as an importer from the U.S., based on container volume measured by PIERS data.

Although three Japanese ports — Sendai, Hitachinaka and Kashima — have remained closed since the disaster on the northeastern coast, the country's largest ports, including Tokyo, Kobe and Yokohama in the industrial southern part of the country were open this week and handling commercial vessels. But Mario Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce, said Japanese exports "will weaken in the months ahead as the closing of several manufacturing plants prompted by electricity shortages, combines with severely damaged roads and bridges to hamper production."

In 2010, U.S. containerized imports of auto parts from Japan, accounted for 28 percent of the total U.S. imports of this commodity globally. Boosted by solid gains in U.S. auto sales last year, imports of auto parts from Japan rose 22 percent in 2010, according to PIERS data. The increase was already slowing in 2011, growing by only 3 percent, year over year in January 2011 versus 2010.

"The positive trend is unlikely to continue," says Moreno. "U.S. car manufacturers, like Toyota, must meet strict specifications and use Toyota-made auto parts only." Moreno's forecast issued in December anticipated a 2.5 percent decline in U.S. containerized imports from Japan, coming off high volumes in 2010.

Japan's bilateral trade includes China as its top export market, with 21 percent of its total exports in 2010, while the U.S. accounted for 17 percent. Japan's export to China was $598 billion in 2010, up 36 percent from 2009, and exports to the U.S. totaled $482 billion, up by 26 percent from 2009.(1)

(1) Containerized and non-containerized data sourced from PIERS Stats Plus

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

UPS Honors Georgia Drivers for 25 Years of Safe Driving

(BUSINESS WIRE)--UPS (NYSE:UPS) today announced 49 elite drivers from Georgia are among 1,122 newly inducted worldwide into the Circle of Honor, an honorary organization for UPS drivers who have achieved 25 or more years of accident-free driving.

“UPS puts a premium on safe-driving methods and training, and these drivers represent the best of the industry”

Georgia boasts 232 active Circle of Honor drivers with a combined 6,670 years of accident-free driving. Robert Millican Jr. of Flintstone is Georgia’s senior safe driver, with 41 years of accident-free driving under his belt, tying him for fifth best safe driving record among UPS’s 102,00 drivers.

Globally, 5,248 active UPS drivers are members of the Circle of Honor. Collectively they’ve racked up 147,244 years and more than 5 billion safe miles during their careers, or the equivalent of circling the earth more than 188,000 times.

The number of new inductees represents the largest increase in new members in a single year in the company’s history.

“UPS puts a premium on safe-driving methods and training, and these drivers represent the best of the industry,” said Dow Dameron, president and chief operating officer, UPS South Atlantic District. “I’m very proud of these men and women. To go at least a quarter-of-a-century without an accident is a testament to the effectiveness of that training and to the pride our people take in their jobs.”

Nationally, the most seasoned UPS Circle of Honor driver is Ron Sowder of UPS’s Ohio Valley District, with 49 years of driving without an accident. Thomas Camp of the Great Lakes District is next in line with 48 years of safe driving. Twenty-five others have logged at least 40 years without an accident.

UPS’s 102,000 drivers are among the safest on the roads, logging more than 3 billion miles a year and averaging less than one accident for every million miles driven. There are 2,574 total UPS drivers in Georgia.

UPS invested $53 million in 2010 on safety training and employs its own comprehensive driving course called “Space and Visibility.” New UPS tractor-trailer drivers receive 80 hours of classroom and on-the-road training and UPS package car drivers receive 20 hours of classroom and on-the-road defensive driving training before operating equipment. Package car drivers also complete three safety ride evaluations during their first 22 days on the job.

Founded in 1907, UPS has a rich history of safety and training. The company issued its first driver handbook in 1917 and began recognizing safe drivers in 1923. In 1928, UPS recognized its first five-year safe driver, Ray McCue, with UPS founder Jim Casey presenting him a gold and platinum watch. UPS formally established the Circle of Honor in 1955.

Following is a list of Georgia drivers inducted this year to the Circle of Honor.
 
Driver   Hometown   UPS Work Location
Antone Belk   Mcdonough   Forest Park
Bobby Bradshaw   Rome   Pleasantdale Hub
Waymon Brown   Lithia Springs   Pleasantdale Hub
Robert Caldwell   Douglasville   Atlanta Hub
Patrick Canupp   Watkinsville   Athens
Rowland Carros   Acworth   Pleasantdale Hub
Eugene Carter   Tifton   Tifton
Billy Cavender   Bowdon   Atlanta Hub
Danny Clark   Flowery Branch   Pleasantdale Hub
Patrick Conn   Carrollton   Atlanta Hub
Kerry Creel   Loganville   Pleasantdale Hub
Jeff Cross   Bogart   Pleasantdale Hub
Vincent Daniels   Decatur   Pleasantdale Hub
Larry Doolittle Jr   Mcdonough   Pleasantdale Hub
Walter Durrett   Stockbridge   Forest Park
Michael Evans   Lilburn   Pleasantdale Hub
Robert Fennell   Odum   Waycross
David Gamblin   Temple   Pleasantdale Hub
Terry Gibson   Marietta   Pleasantdale Hub
Michael Green   Gainesville   Carnesville
Gary Hadden   Lilburn   Pleasantdale Hub
Darrel Hagan   Dearing   Warrenton
Alan Hawkins   Tucker   Pleasantdale Hub
Jesse Henry   Adrian   Swainsboro
Jerry Hill   Murrayville   Gainesville
Mark Howell   Watkinsville   Pleasantdale Hub
David Eugene Hughes   Thomson   Warrenton
Lester Ingle   Columbus   Columbus
Joseph Ivey   Loganville   Pleasantdale Hub
Kenneth Johnson   Kingston   Rome
Kenneth Steven Johnson   Twin City   Swainsboro
Reddrick Johnson   Albany   Albany Center
Carl Lehmann   Dacula   Pleasantdale Hub
Karl Lockhart   Leesburg   Albany Center
Forrest McGahee   Decatur   Pleasantdale Hub
Larry David Parker   Dawsonville   Roswell
James Pope   Tifton   Tifton
Henry Prock   Lawrenceville   Pleasantdale Hub
Theotis Rozier   Macon   Macon
Gill Allen Salter   Cartersville   Acworth Center
Harold Boyd Shuman Jr   Richmond Hill   Savannah
Otis Sims   College Park   Atlanta Hub
Anthony Smith   Stockbridge   Forest Park
Allen Spence   Carrollton   Atlanta Hub
Terry Swindle   Gainesville   Gainesville
Charles Traylor   Hahira   Valdosta
James Stanley Westbrook   Austell   Atlanta Hub
Billy Wayne Whitaker   Warrenton   Warrenton
Theosia Williams   Douglasville   Pleasantdale Hub     

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Monday, January 24, 2011

National Report Highlights Forgotten Victims of Teen Driver Crashes

/PRNewswire/ -- An inaugural national research report released today from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance Companies ® shows that the impact of teen driver crashes extends far beyond teen drivers' families and friends. In 2008, more than half a million (681,000) people were involved in crashes where a teen driver was behind the wheel. More than 40,000 were injured, and nearly 30 percent of those who died in these crashes were not in cars driven by teens.

"When most people think about those affected by teen driver crashes, they think of the teens behind the wheel. We must also consider the significant impact of these crashes on other members of our communities: occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and other road-users," says Dennis Durbin, M.D., M.S.C.E., co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP, and a co-author of the report. "Whether we have a teen driver in our family or not, we should all care about this issue. This report provides a concrete way to measure the effectiveness of laws, education, and other programs in reducing teen crashes and their impact on communities."

This first annual report from State Farm and CHOP mines the most credible data from diverse federal data sources, and establishes 11 indicators to help policymakers and safety practitioners determine progress in key areas affecting teen driving safety. The report is the first to compile this information into a single resource, making it more accessible and useful to those responsible for setting policy, training, and curriculum standards. Researchers focus on four key behaviors among teen drivers that contribute to crashes or crash fatalities, that can also be tracked using federal data sources: failure to use seat belts, speeding, alcohol use, and distracted driving.

"Reducing speeding and alcohol use, increasing seat belt use, and eliminating distractions for teen drivers are the four calls-to-action we see in this report that would have great impact on reducing injuries and fatalities for all road users," says Dr. Durbin, who is also an emergency physician. "More than half of teens who were fatally injured in crashes were speeding, 40 percent had a positive blood alcohol level, more than half were not wearing seat belts, and 16 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving."

The report also shows that more teens die from car crashes than from cancer, homicide, and suicide combined. Teen driver and peer passenger deaths account for one-quarter (24 percent) of total teen deaths from any cause. However, the authors stress that teen fatalities are just "the tip of the iceberg." Thousands more - including friends, family members, and others on the road - suffer physical injuries, psychological trauma, and disruption to their everyday lives.

Research shows most of these tragedies are due to inexperience, and are therefore preventable. Strong Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws, which allow teens to gain experience under lower-risk conditions, are proven to be one effective measure. To further reduce the number of deaths and injuries with teens behind the wheel, public health programs and GDL and other traffic safety laws should focus on the key teen behaviors known to raise crash risk: speeding, alcohol use, distractions from peer passengers and cell phones, as well as failure to wear a seat belt.

"Since 2006, State Farm and CHOP have been working together to improve teen driver safety. Our research has provided evidence to support stronger graduated driver licensing laws and increased parental involvement in the learning to drive process," says Susan Hood, claims vice president at State Farm. "Since working with Congress to establish the first National Teen Driver Safety Week in 2007, we've seen major strides in support for teen driving programs. Safety advocacy groups, legislators, educators and teens are rallying to reduce teen car crashes and save lives. This annual report is the next step in supporting continued improvements that will help keep teen drivers safe, and those who share the road with them."

The federal government recently expanded its Healthy People 2020 initiative to include target goals related to teen driving, including a 10 percent reduction in fatality rate and a 10 percent increase in seat belt use. This report will help monitor annual progress toward these goals, as well as other important indicators of teen driving safety.

Monitoring these indicators regularly will help those who set direction in public health and safety to motivate action, measure progress and recalibrate programs as necessary to further advance the safety of everyone on the road.

The full report and more information can be found at www.TeenDriverSource.org.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Air Cargo Carrier Increases Hartsfield-Jackson’s European Reach

Atlanta’s global trade connections are stronger today as City of Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport officials announce the arrival of a new all-cargo carrier.

Milan, Italy-based Cargoitalia will begin scheduled service to Atlanta on February 3. The two weekly flights between Atlanta and Milan will create about 10 jobs and will have an estimated $15 million economic impact on metro Atlanta.

“Our freight forwarders have been asking for more airlift capacity to Europe,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “Cargoitalia is a world-class, all-cargo airline that meets this need, and I am confident it will serve our customers well in the years to come. Air cargo has a huge economic impact on Atlanta and the metropolitan area, and I am committed to growing this vital business sector.”

“Atlanta is one of the most important air cargo gateways in the U.S.A., and we consider it a must-have city in our growing network,” said Roberto Gilardoni, Cargoitalia commercial director. “The facilities [in Atlanta] are impressive, and we greatly appreciate the help and support they have shown to their newest guest airline. We have great optimism about our potential in this market.”

Cargoitalia operates a fleet of MD-11 SF all-cargo aircraft based at Milan’s Malpensa Airport. It offers service to destinations in North America, the Middle East and the Far East.

“Cargoitalia’s decision to begin air cargo service to Atlanta furthers our position as one of the world’s premier logistics hubs and centers for supply chain management,” said Bob Pertierra, vice president of supply chain development for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “This new trade lane enables companies in Atlanta and the Southeastern United States to gain access to even more customers and markets in Italy and Europe.”

Air cargo continues to grow at Hartsfield-Jackson. According to Airport data, air cargo increased by more than 18 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Cargoitalia is the 15th all-cargo airline to serve Hartsfield-Jackson and the region. Other cargo carriers to begin operating in Atlanta recently are Asiana Airlines, which began cargo service in September 2010, and Singapore Airlines Cargo, which began scheduled service to Atlanta in September 2009.

Hartsfield-Jackson offers a geographically desirable location for cargo carriers and freight forwarders that want to expand their global networks with lower operating costs. Companies readily can connect with air, road and railway transportation systems in Atlanta.

Hartsfield-Jackson has received several awards for its cargo operations, including Air Cargo Week’s Airport of the Year (2010, 2009) and Air Cargo World magazine’s Award of Excellence for the best North American cargo operations in its category (2010, 2009).
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Parts of I-20 East in Douglas County Expected to Stay Closed Until Thursday

According to the GA DOT, I-20 East in Douglas County at mile marker 44 is ice covered and closed. At this time, it is expected to remain closed until Thursday, January 13, 2011.

If you must travel, please take extra precautions as reducing speed and leaving at least 10 car lengths between vehicles.

Drive safely.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Georgia DOT Crews Battle Ice and Snow Laden Roadways: Cautions Georgians to Stay Off Roadways

Since 6:00 pm on Sunday, Georgia DOT crews have been out in full force battling wintery conditions across Georgia. A shift change is underway so that our employees are fully rested to begin the next round of work.

“We have been preparing for this event since the middle of last week and our maintenance crews are working as hard as they can to clear the lanes,” said Georgia DOT Commissioner Vance C. Smith, Jr. In the first 12-hour shift, which ended at 6:00 am this morning, more than 900 Georgia DOT maintenance crews and employees have used 578 pieces of equipment to spread more than 2018 tons of salt and gravel material.

“Our biggest concern are people being stranded on the roadways, so again, we need people to stay off the roadways unless there is an emergency,” said State Maintenance Engineer, Eric Pitts. “The interstate is a very dangerous place for people to walk around so please stay off if you can.”

· The Transportation Management Center (TMC) Emergency Operations Center (EOC): Media Phone Lines – (404) 635 8093 and 8094. Karlene Barron and Jill Goldberg will alternate 12- hour shifts at the EOC. (Note - This is the Department’s statewide command center and the clearinghouse for real-time conditions; it is your best source for current status of roadways.

· Cheshire Bridge Road (Metro Atlanta) Maintenance Facility: Mark McKinnon at (404) 326-6672 and David Spear at (404) 326-6668 will alternate 12-hour shifts at this site.

· District One (Northeast Georgia) Gainesville Headquarters: Teri Pope and Rick Parham, both at (404) 274-6436, will alternate 12-hour shifts at this location.

· District Two (East Central Georgia) Tennille Headquarters: Cissy McNure at (478) 232-3331 will be available as needed.

· District Three (West Central Georgia) Thomaston Headquarters: Kimberly Larson at (706) 741-3439 will be available as needed.

· Districts Four (Southeast Georgia) and Five (South Georgia): Craig Solomon at (229) 309-9706 in Tifton D4 Headquarters will be available as needed.

· District Six (Northwest Georgia) Cartersville Headquarters: Mohamed Arafa at (770) 359-9523 will be available.

Georgia DOT urges travelers to call 511 for updated information about this or any other construction project on interstates and state routes. Georgia 511 is a free phone service that provides real-time traffic and travel information statewide, such as traffic conditions, incidents, lane closures, and delays due to inclement weather. Callers also can transfer to operators to request assistance or report incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More information is available at www.511ga.org.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CDC Study Finds Seat Belt Use Up to 85 Percent Nationally

Almost 6 out of 7 U.S. drivers surveyed report that they always wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle, according to a study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seat belt use has become the national norm in most states, though rates of self-reported seat belt use vary widely from state to state, with a high of 94 percent (Oregon) and a low of 59 percent (North Dakota).

Still, every 14 seconds, an adult in the United States is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries.

"A simple step that most drivers and passengers in the United States already take—buckling their seat belts—cuts in half the chance of being seriously injured or killed in a crash," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. "Yet, about 1 in 7 adults do not wear a seat belt on every trip. If everyone in the vehicle buckled up every time, we could further reduce one of the leading causes of death."

The study was in Vital Signs, a section of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The study found that states with primary seat belt enforcement laws, where police officers can pull cars over and issue tickets solely because drivers and passengers are unbelted, have higher rates of seat belt use than states with secondary enforcement laws, which only allow officers to issue tickets to drivers who have been pulled over for violating another law. States with primary enforcement laws had an overall seat belt use rate of 88 percent, whereas states with secondary enforcement laws had an overall seat belt use rate of 79 percent. The national average for seat belt use is 85 percent.

If the secondary law states had achieved 88 percent belt use in 2008, it would have resulted in an additional 7.3 million adults buckling up.

Though 1 in 3 U.S. adults lived in states with secondary enforcement laws in 2008, residents of these states accounted for 49 percent of the unbelted drivers and passengers on U.S. roads. Nineteen states do not have primary enforcement seat belt laws.

"As seatbelt use increases and more states pass primary enforcement laws, we are seeing crash-related injuries decline," said Linda Degutis, Dr. PH, MSN, director of CDC's Injury Center. "This indicates that primary enforcement laws, paired with vigorous enforcement programs, get more people to wear seat belts. We know that buckling up can make a life-saving difference."

For the study, CDC researchers analyzed two national sources: 2009 National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program data on non-fatal injuries treated in emergency departments nationwide and 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data on self-reported risk behaviors.

To help increase seat belt use and protect more people on the road, CDC supports:

Primary enforcement seat belt laws that cover all drivers and passengers of appropriate age and size, regardless of whether they are sitting in the front or back seat of the vehicle.
According to previous research by CDC and others, everyone is encouraged to take the following steps:

Use a seat belt on every trip, no matter how short.
Encourage everyone in the car to buckle up, including those in the back seat.
Make sure children are properly buckled up in a seat belt, booster seat, or car seat, whichever is age- and size-appropriate.
Have all children ages 12 and under sit in the back seat.
CDC is also releasing "Policy Impact: Seat Belts," one in a series of briefs highlighting key public health issues, and important science-based policy actions that can be taken to address them. Through this new publication, CDC supports state-based efforts to strengthen seat belt policies and prevent crash-related injuries and deaths. (www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/seatbeltbrief)

CDC's Injury Center works to protect the safety of everyone on the roads, every day. For more information about seat belts and motor vehicle safety, please visit www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety and www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

States Warn Drunk Drivers: Over the Limit. Under Arrest

 More than five hundred Georgia police agencies are conducting DUI road checks and patrols to keep families safe on the road this holiday season. The state's Operation Zero Tolerance (OZT) enforcement mobilization runs Dec. 17 through Jan. 2. 

The Governor's Office of Highway Safety's (GOHS) is also launching a Thunder Task Force initiative targeting a county with some of the highest traffic fatality stats in the state. This is a three month program to reinforce local jurisdictions with increased state-coordinated traffic safety enforcement, focusing on DUI during the mobilization. GOHS Director Bob Dallas joins trauma surgeons and DUI victims to kick off the campaign with a news conference at a Savannah trauma center. Other news conferences are being held around the state to announce regional high visibility crackdown activities.

GOHS is supplementing its radio and TV paid media campaign with live radio announcements during traffic reports and University of Georgia football game broadcasts. UGA Coach Mark Richt begins every home game with a JumboTron stadium message: “Hang-Up...Buckle-Up...and Drive Sober so everyone has a safe trip home.” GOHS is also targeting drivers in high-risk, Hispanic, and minority communities with gas pump-topper ads at neighborhood convenience stores, and is using Facebook to reach millions of 18- to-34 year old high-risk drivers online.

/PRNewswire/ -- The Governors Highway Safety Association strongly supports the national "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." holiday drunk driving enforcement crackdown. According to GHSA Chairman Vernon F. Betkey, Jr., "State highway safety agencies are aggressively participating in this year's effort. State law enforcement partners will be making a very visible enforcement presence by increasing their drunk driving checkpoints and saturation patrols."

GHSA members are purchasing paid advertising and conducting a variety of awareness events to remind drivers that there's zero tolerance for those driving drunk this holiday season. Those citizens who may selfishly consider driving drunk should know that they will be pulled over and the consequences will be severe.

The holiday season is too often a deadly time on our roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in December 2009, 753 people were killed in crashes that involved a drunk driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher – above the legal limit in every state and the District of Columbia.

To help move the nation toward zero roadway deaths, GHSA has been actively addressing the issue of impaired driving. Just last month, GHSA and NHTSA brought together a variety of state officials to discuss best practices in implementing alcohol ignition interlock programs. In 2011, GHSA will begin a three-year NHTSA-funded research effort to determine the most effective elements in a model interlock program. The Association strongly supports these devices and urges that they be required for all convicted drunk drivers. According to Chairman Betkey, "The technology exists to make it impossible for a person convicted of drunk driving to get behind the wheel of their vehicle unless they are sober. Every state should support these commonsense, lifesaving laws for all convicted offenders." Currently, 12 states have passed these laws.

State efforts will complement NHTSA's multimillion dollar "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." advertising campaign. The national holiday crackdown is organized by NHTSA and implemented by state highway safety agencies with the support of local law enforcement and other organizations. The crackdown runs through January 3.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) Receives Grant

Funds Earmarked for Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program
The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) announced today the receipt of a grant totaling $104,700.00 earmarked for the DDS’s motorcycle safety training known as the Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program (GMSP). The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) approved the funding to be used for increasing the awareness of motorists and motorcyclists on sharing the road responsibly and safely. The funds will be used to pilot test a mobile licensing project and to purchase training motorcycles.

“The important partnership between DDS and GOHS allows our agencies to continue to provide quality rider education and safety awareness messages across the state. We are proud of the significant achievements that this cooperative spirit has produced.” said DDS Commissioner Gregory C. Dozier.

The Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program offers basic motorcycle training for new riders or those who want to learn how to ride a motorcycle safely in today’s traffic mix. Students do not need a motorcycle since the Program provides both a motorcycle and a helmet. After the course, successful graduates receive a license waiver card that exempts them from both the written and on-cycle skills tests at a DDC Customer Service Center.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Two out of Five Drivers Admit to Falling Asleep at the Wheel, Finds AAA Foundation Study

/PRNewswire/ -- Two out of every five drivers (41 percent) admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel at some point, with one in ten saying they've done so in the past year, according to a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study. More than a quarter of those surveyed admitted they drove despite being so tired that they had difficulty keeping their eyes open in the previous month.

Eighty-five percent of drivers surveyed felt it was "completely unacceptable" for someone to drive if they are so tired they are having trouble keeping their eyes open. Unfortunately, drivers may not always be aware of the effects of fatigue resulting from a lack of sleep. In recognition of this week's Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®, hosted by the National Sleep Foundation, AAA wants all drivers to recognize the seriousness of this dangerous, yet underestimated, driving practice.

"When you are behind the wheel of a car, being sleepy is very dangerous. Sleepiness decreases awareness, slows reaction time, and impairs judgment, just like drugs or alcohol, contributing to the possibility of a crash," said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. "We need to change the culture so that not only will drivers recognize the dangers of driving while drowsy but will stop doing it."

A new analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash data estimates that about one in six (16.5 percent) deadly crashes, one in eight crashes resulting in occupant hospitalization and one in fourteen crashes in which a vehicle was towed involve a driver who is drowsy. These percentages are substantially higher than most previous estimates, suggesting that the contribution of drowsy driving to motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and deaths has not been fully appreciated.

"Many of us tend to underestimate the negative effects associated with fatigue and sleep deprivation and, conversely, overestimate our abilities to overcome them while driving," said Kathleen Marvaso, vice president, AAA Public Affairs. "This data underscores the importance of educating drivers on the simple, yet effective steps they can take to prevent a possible tragedy. Unfortunately, too many drivers have adopted the 'I'm tired, but I can make it' mentality, often to their own peril or to the peril of others."

David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, added, "It is shocking to consider that one quarter of drivers admit to operating a vehicle in the last month in an incapacitated state." The National Sleep Foundation has been championing better drowsy driving awareness and education since 1991. Cloud adds, "We applaud AAA's work to elevate this issue for public scrutiny and action."

To remain alert and avoid drowsiness, AAA suggests:

* Getting plenty of sleep (at least six hours) the night before a long trip;
* Scheduling a break every two hours or every 100 miles;
* Traveling at times when you are normally awake, and staying overnight rather than driving straight through; and
* Stop driving if you become sleepy; someone who is tired could fall asleep at any time.


Symptoms of sleepiness include but are not limited to:

* Having trouble keeping your eyes open and focused;
* The inability to keep your head up;
* Daydreaming or having wandering, disconnected thoughts; and
* Drifting from your lane or off the road, or tailgating.


These findings were part of the AAA Foundation's third annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, a nationally-representative survey conducted by Abt SRBI Inc. The Traffic Safety Culture Index was a telephone survey of 2,000 U.S. residents ages 16 and older conducted from May 11, 2010 through June 7, 2010. The estimated proportion of crashes involving a drowsy driver is based on analysis of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System, a nationally-representative sample of crashes involving a passenger vehicle that was towed. Data analyzed was from years 1999 – 2008.

For more information about the drowsy driving study, including the full report and fact sheet, visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) Reminds Teens of Driving Restrictions

Curfew (for driving by teens) is midnight to six a.m. – no exceptions!

Parents and teens should be mindful of Georgia’s teenage driving restrictions especially as holiday activities ramp up. Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) lists all the restrictions on their website www.dds.ga.gov. Restrictions for teens holding a “Class D” license (sixteen to eighteen years of age) include:

1. No driving between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. No exceptions.
2. Passenger restrictions:

For the initial six-month period immediately following the issuance of a Class D license, any Class D license holder shall not drive a motor vehicle upon the public roads, streets or highways of this state when any other passenger in the vehicle is not a member of the driver's immediate family. During the second six-month period immediately following issuance of a Class D license, any Class D license holder shall not drive a motor vehicle upon the public roads, streets or highways of this state when more than one other passenger in the vehicle (who is not a member of the driver's immediate family) is less than 21 years of age. After the second six-month period, any Class D license holder shall not drive a motor vehicle upon the public roads, streets or highways of this state when more than three other passengers in the vehicle (who are not members of the driver’s immediate family) are less than 21 years of age.

“Buckling up is the first safety step, but please be mindful of teen passenger restrictions and the limited driving hours,” said DDS Commissioner Gregory C. Dozier. “These laws are mechanisms which support safe teen driving, and they do make a difference with lowering crashes and fatalities when observed,” he added.

Most recently, the Georgia Legislature passed new teen cell phone legislation which forbids any teen operating a motor vehicle from any cell phone use – including texting.

For more information including access to many Internet Services, please visit www.dds.ga.gov.
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