Why Roads Need Guardrails and Guardrail Repairs

When you drive home along the Florida coastline, you glance to either side and awe at the beautiful view. However, you don’t see as much as you’d like because guardrails block your line of sight. Or perhaps you notice these dividers and wonder why they stand on the side of the road and separate traffic. Maybe you see construction workers repairing or adding guardrails along your daily drive route.

Just like you don’t ponder much on road lights, you probably don’t think about guardrails often. Yet these barriers add security to roads and protect you from harm while you drive. Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about guardrails and why these dividers matter so much to you as a motorist or pedestrian.

What Purpose Does a Guardrail Serve?

As previously mentioned, a guardrail acts as a barrier or divider. Construction workers build these devices from various materials, including:

  • Shaped sheets of metal
  • Metal or wood posts
  • Cables
  • Metal chain links

Depending on where you live, you’ll also find different types of guardrails, such as:

  • Temporary fence-like barriers (usually on sidewalks)
  • Short wooden fences (like those found in more rural areas)
  • Tall wood and barbed-wire fences (including those found near farms)
  • Large barrels of water (such as those found in highway construction zones)
  • High concrete walls with metal panels on top (also found on roadway construction sites)

Construction workers assemble guardrails and place them in any of the following locations:

  • Between lanes on the highway to separate traffic that flows in opposite directions
  • Along the sides of roads, cliffs, bridges, or other precarious areas to prevent drivers from veering off course
  • In between roadsides and walking paths to keep walkers, joggers, tourists, and other passersby safe as they maneuver around these locations

Road workers typically use metal guardrails on main highways and roads. You will see other rail types along less-frequented streets.

How Do Guardrails Work?

Now that you know what guardrails look like and what purpose they serve, you need to understand exactly how these roadside instruments function.

According to the Department of Transportation, engineers work with construction workers to determine where rails will have maximum efficacy. They take the guardrail’s materials, height, length, and other factors into account during this process.

Additionally, these experts consult together to make sure that the guardrail’s two key components perform properly. We’ll discuss these components below.

The Guardrail Face

Simply put, this term refers to the length of the rail that extends along the side of the road, sidewalk, or another area. It protects wandering vehicles or persons from veering into off-limits or dangerous territory. Should a car or individual stray towards the guardrail, it redirects them back onto the highway, road, or pathway.

The End Terminal

When you look at a guardrail, you notice that it doesn’t look like a continuous apparatus. Though guardrails do run for extended lengths, they do not span over unending stretches of road and sidewalk. Guardrails have a starting and ending point. You can easily recognize the end terminal by the black and yellow reflective stripes that rest on its edge.

This terminal allows the guardrail to absorb heavy impact along its length. As a result, the barrier as a whole can better protect drivers and passersby from more serious injuries.

For example, if you were in a car and hit a guardrail head on, the barrier consumes the impact force and slows your vehicle down. You may pass through and behind the barrier, but at a reduced speed. This result prevents you and your car from sustaining more damage.

If you hit the guardrail from an angle or the side, the divider would, again, absorb the impact force and bend the rail slightly outward. This feature allows you to correct your vehicle’s position accordingly.

Why Do Construction Workers Repair Guardrails?

Since guardrails exist solely to protect you and others from serious harm as you drive or walk around, you can guess that repairs serve a similar purpose. In fact, construction workers state that appropriate guardrail repair and maintenance greatly aids public and travel safety.

After a collision, these technicians must quickly repair any damage to the divider so it functions properly again. They will also clear debris from the accident site and keep sharp, dangerous objects out of drivers’ and walkers’ routes.

How Do Guardrails Affect You?

By now, you’ve learned everything you need to know about guardrails. This knowledge will help you understand why our roads need these protective devices. So the next time you drive down the highway and see repairmen fixing or installing guardrails, recall the answers to the questions above.

Even if you can’t pull over and thank these individuals for keeping roads and walkways secure to drive and walk on, you can remember how much this service benefits you and keeps you safe.

How Street Sweeping Affects Your Parking Habits

43rd street cleaningWhen it comes to getting around your city or commuting to work, your car is your most vital resource. Because it matters so much, you want to ensure you park it in a safe location. And normally you do. But what about those times when you need to park on the side of the street?

A roadside parking spot represents a risk for several reasons. And one of those reasons involves street sweepers.

Why bother worrying about street sweepers, you may ask? The following information will help you become a more responsible car parker by showing how street sweepers typically clean and how you should prepare to move your car off the street when they make their rounds.

Street Sweepers and Your Parking Habits

When you think of the term “street sweeper,” you probably conjure up images of poorly dressed men in caps with brooms and shovels. While this image is certainly romantic and nostalgic, it is hardly accurate in today’s world. Modern street sweepers actually drive trucks or machines which they operate at around 5 to 15 miles per hour.

Generally, two types of street sweepers keep garbage off the roads and pollutants out of the air. Some street sweepers clean the street with water and circular brushes. They spray water to reduce the amount of dust blown and activate a brush to scrub dirt and grime away.

Other sweepers utilize high-powered air blowers to lift dirt off the street and suck it up into a container. But no matter what kind of street sweeper your neighborhood uses, the sweeper’s equipment could damage any car left on the roadside. Or your car could damage the equipment. Or perhaps the street sweeping company could have your car towed to eliminate any risk for damage.

For this reason, you need to keep your car off the road when the street sweepers come.

4 Steps to Take for Your Parked Car

Street cleaning occurs primarily on the side of the road-against the curb-the same place where you park your car. You need to know when to move your car and how to cooperate with street sweepers when it’s time for them to come your way. Read further to discover some advice to keep in mind during this process.

1. Learn Your Local Street Sweeping Schedule

To gain a basic understanding of when street sweepers will clean, check out their schedule. Most street sweeping company websites will post a table that tells the days or hours of their cleaning services. Other sources such as your city hall’s website or your city’s public works website will allow you to enter your address and area code into a search field to find information for your locale’s schedule.

2. Keep Your Car on the Driveway or in the Garage

The best place for your parked car is out of the street sweeper’s way. The simplest solution involves parking your car in your garage or outside on your driveway. It becomes a hassle for street sweepers to clean around parked cars. So they sometimes have them towed.

And if the street sweepers don’t tow your vehicle, they will be unable to collect the dirt and garbage that accumulate near the curb. After all, these professionals don’t want to damage your car or their equipment.

3. Obey “No Parking” Signs

Most of the time, street sweeping companies or city officials will post signs around town warning drivers to keep their parked cars off the side of the road. When city officials temporarily place these signs, they often post them at least a day before the street sweeping begins. These signs should also give you the specific off-limit hours so you know when it’s safe to park on the street again.

4. Consider Alternatives to Driving if Necessary

Street sweepers don’t just clean your residential roads; they clean busy downtown streets as well. If you park your car on the street when you go to work, you’ll need to consider ways to avoid doing so when street sweepers come by.

If possible, consider taking the bus or riding a bike on days when you know street sweepers will clean near your work. Your car should be fine if you park it in a company parking lot or in an underground parking garage.

 

As you follow these guidelines, your car will remain safe and you will avoid receiving any unnecessary tickets or fines from law enforcement. Most importantly, you will be a vital asset in your local street sweeping company’s goal to keep your roads, city, and air clean from trash and pollution. You’ll keep your car and your city more beautiful at the same time.

The next time your street sweepers provide service, remember these tips. To update yourself on more information related to street sweeping, check out our other blog articles.

Study Shows Street Sweeping Reduces Urban and Stormwater Runoff

Study Shows Street Sweeping Reduces Urban and Stormwater RunoffStorm drains effectively prevent floods after storms by giving rainwater a place to go. However, these drains don’t just deal with rain. As water flows down the streets, it picks up chemicals, dirt, debris, bacteria, and other pollutants. It can even pick up other types of urban runoff, such as trash, metal, and gasoline. And it carries these contaminants through the drain and out to the local environment.

These pollutants harm wildlife-and even humans-when they enter our water sources or litter our street gutters.

According to a recent study, one of the best ways to eliminate this runoff from our cities is through street sweeping. The Massachusetts study, “Potential Reductions of Street Solids and Phosphorus in Urban Watersheds from Street Cleaning, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2009-2011” was conducted by Jason R. Sorenson of the New England Water Science Center.

The study evaluated street sweeping in 4 different time periods: monthly, bimonthly, weekly, and three times weekly. Let’s take a look at the study’s background, method, and results to find out what street sweeping methods best reduced polluted runoff.

Study Background/Purpose

The study was conducted over a two-year period with support from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the City of Cambridge.

Researchers felt particularly concerned about the amount of phosphorus in the City of Cambridge. Excess phosphorus can lead to increased algae growth, which reduces the water’s overall oxygen. This condition can harm fish and other species and even affect drinking water.

For the study, researchers were curious to determine the amount of street solids and trace elements in Cambridge’s water runoff. In addition, they wanted to determine the most productive street cleaning methods and evaluate how street cleaning reduced the city’s phosphorus levels.

Water Quality Results

Researchers collected samples and evaluated the water quality. They determined that the amount of solids in the runoff was similar to other U.S. cities, including Baltimore, MD and Seattle, WA.

Researchers also found the most solids at the end of winter. Interestingly, they found a greater mass of phosphorus in water on residential streets than on commercial streets-probably due to grass clippings, tree leaves, fertilizer, and other substances.

Street Sweeping Results

Now, how did street cleaning reduce phosphorus and other substances? Good news: street sweeping in Cambridge reduced phosphorus up to 9.3% and solids up to 19%. Here are the results:

  • Monthly: 16% solid reduction; 8% phosphorus reduction
  • Bimonthly: 18% solid reduction; 8.3% phosphorus reduction
  • Weekly: 18% solid reduction; 8.7% phosphorus reduction
  • Three times a week: 19% solid reduction; 9.3% phosphorus reduction

Researchers stated that street sweeping was about 81% efficient at removing phosphorus.

What Cities Should Do

The study shows that regular street sweeping is important to reduce urban and stormwater runoff. For more information on how street sweeping can reduce pollution, see this post.

Now that you know the importance of street sweeping for your community, consider forming a street sweeping plan. Some of the decisions you’ll need to make include:

  1. Decide how often to send out the street sweepers. Generally, the more street sweeping, the better. Street sweeping three times a week was the most effective at reducing phosphorus and other solids. However, you need to consider this method’s practicality. Could you expect residents to move their cars this frequently? Can your city afford to send out street sweepers this often?
  2. Make sure you choose a reliable street sweeping company. This company should hire fully trained employees who practice proper street sweeping safety. Effective street sweeping relies on experience and training.
  3. Plan effective street sweeping routes. Street sweeping equipment is most effective when it doesn’t have to backtrack or make a lot of right turns. In addition, the street sweeping route should end at a dumping location.
  4. Spread the word to the locals. They’ll need to know when street sweepers will come through so they can move their vehicles. You can also tell citizens what they can do to reduce stormwater pollution in their city and neighborhood. Have them follow these tips.

Keep the results of the Cambridge study in mind as you determine the most cost-effective methods for cleaning your streets.

Street Sweeping in Fiction

street sweeping in fiction blogStreet sweeping provides vital services, keeping roads clean and managing storm water. While seemingly unglamorous, the street sweeping service industry has infiltrated several forms of fiction, enhancing true stories and lending familiarity to fantasy.

In this blog, we cover some of the best known appearances of street sweeping in fiction, including in advertising and comic book form.

Advertising

The best advertisements demand attention, often through presenting a familiar object in a new light.

Sky Movies – Comic Book Heroes (2014)

British television firm Sky Movies HD shows a range of superhero films during their Comic Book Heroes Season. One of their many promotional commercials followed a street sweeper (the worker, not the truck) as he cleaned a city. Presumably, the city needed his services following a destructive battle between superheroes and super-villains.

The street sweeper offers observances on the characters of several heroes, including Batman, Wolverine, and Superman as he completes the superhuman cleanup. Watch the commercial here.

Comics

Perhaps Sky Movies found inspiration for the advert described above in the story of comic book cleanup crews. Most notably, Marvel’s Damage Control.

Damage Control Comics (1989 – 2008)

The concept of cleaning up after superheroes isn’t a new one. In both comics and film, heroes often leave shattered windows, crumbling walls, and smashed cars in their wake. Beginning in the 1980s, Marvel published several storylines revolving around Damage Control, a company dedicated to these herculean cleanups.

The comic featured familiar faces like Spiderman, Thor, and the Incredible Hulk, and was rife with references to other Marvel comics. Damage Control primarily dealt with reconstruction of roadways and buildings. However, they also dealt with the debris that street sweepers would handle if these battles were to occur in reality.

In 2014, Marvel released news that Drew Pearce, who worked on many Marvel movies, wanted to create a Damage Control film adaptation. As of Marvel’s 2015 film lineup announcement, the movie had yet to receive the green light.

Film

While the previous pieces of fiction deal primarily with the duties of street sweepers, films on the subject delve deeper, exploring drivers’ lives and the future. “Solar Crisis” (1990)

Set in the future, “Solar Crisis” deals with public fear after scientists predict a coming solar flare that may incinerate the Earth. Astronauts fly toward the sun with the intent of dropping a bomb to redirect the blast. On Earth, however, citizens already struggle with the effects of a stronger sun.

In this film, street sweepers serve as mechanical police forces, enforcing a curfew intended to keep civilians out of the dangerous sunlight levels. These street sweepers have weapons systems, transport capacities, and even voices.

“The Streetsweeper” (2004)

This film festival piece follows the life of Enzo Morelli, a street sweeper by trade. In the film, Morelli gives up a promising career as an opera singer to provide for his son. Morelli drives one of San Diego’s Elgin Eagle sweepers and keeps a regular route.

The film offers perspective on the plight of some public workers, including, in the past, street sweeper drivers. In the film, Morelli struggles with his own purpose as well as with the daunting perspective of putting his son through college.

“The Streetsweeper” includes panoramic shots of the streets of San Diego and footage of the city’s historic sweepers in action. The film ushered in changes to how outsiders viewed the sweeping industry. The film garnered wider recognition of the feats drivers accomplish as well as the vital public service they provide.

Literature

Books often express all-encompassing emotions that do not find hold in film. We discuss one such book, which uses street sweeping as a storytelling vessel, below.

“The Street Sweeper” by Elliot Perlman (2012)

In 2012, Elliot Perlman, author of “Seven Types of Ambiguity,” released “The Street Sweeper.” Perlman’s epic-length novel winds together the stories of three very different men in New York City. Readers meet the main character, Lamont Williams, immediately after his release from prison where he served after an unjust conviction. Williams takes on the duties of a street sweeper.

In the course of his duties, Williams meets a World War II survivor living in an old folk’s home and a professor at Columbia University. Though living different lives, the three find they have perspective and life experience to offer each other. Perlman’s work delves into the issues of racism, heroism, historical representation, guilt, and love.

The Globe and Mail heralded “The Street Sweeper” as a poignant look at “how individual people matter in history.” The novel also received praise from The Wall Street Journal, Sunday Times, and The Guardian.

 

People often use fictionalized narratives to talk about the feelings, circumstances, and causes they find most important. Explore the fiction above to examine how authors and screenwriters integrate street sweeping into their stories.

Street sweepers provide essential services that keep cities functioning safely and smoothly. For more information on how street sweepers impact storm water management, local wildlife, and even crime rates, read our other blog posts.

What You Need to Know About the New Move Over Law

move overAs you drive along the road, your heart skips a beat: flashing lights ahead of you. For a brief moment, you worry that maybe an accident has stopped traffic ahead, or perhaps road construction has caused heavy delays.

But as you look closer, you realize that the lights belong to a street sweeping vehicle. It chugs along slowly, and you want to drive faster just so you don’t have to deal with the slower traffic.

Don’t!

According to Florida’s new Move Over law, you should make room for more than just police or emergency vehicles.

What Is The New Law?

Effective July 1, 2014, Florida’s Move Over law encourages drivers to slow down and clear the lane for authorized emergency, sanitation, or utility service vehicles. This law protects police, fire, and other emergency workers, as many passing cars have hit them.

For example, Trooper Chelsea Richard was investigating a crash on Interstate 75. She was speaking with a tow truck driver and one of the occupants when another vehicle crashed into them. Both Richard and the truck driver died at the scene.

How Can You Follow the Law?

The law states you must slow down at least 20 mph less than the posted speed limit. So if you drive the Florida Turnpike and the limit is 70 mph, you need to drop your speed to 50 mph when you approach these emergency vehicles. If the speed limit is less than 20 miles per hour, you must slow your speed to 5 mph.

Multi-Lane Road

See a utility vehicle parked on the side of a multi-lane road? You must change lanes away from the vehicle as soon as you can safely do so.

Two-Lane Roads

For two-lane roads, you must slow your speed and approach the sanitation vehicle with caution, unless an emergency worker directs you to do otherwise.

What If You Can’t Pull Over Safely?

If you can’t pull over safely, you must still adjust your speed. Do not stop in the roadway or block the flow of traffic. Stay alert and pay attention to the drivers around you.

 Fines for Violating the New Law

If you fail to move over, you may receive a $120 penalty fine (depending on the county) as well as 3 points on your driver’s license.

Even worse, you put emergency workers as well as the drivers around you at risk for an accident.

 Want to Learn More?

View highlights of the law here http://www.flhsmv.gov/safetytips/moveovertips.htm.

If you want to read Florida’s exact law in detail, click here. Or if you have any further questions about the law, email FHP@FLHSMV.GOV.