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.

Innovative Cleaning Strategies from the World’s Cleanest Cities, and What They Mean for You

When you visualize a thriving metropolis-some place big and bustling like New York City-what’s the first thing that comes to mind? I s it the gleaming skyscrapers, the exciting cultural events, and the fun nightlife? Or are those vivid images overshadowed by the grimy sidewalks, dirty roads, and streets littered with chewed gum and cigarette butts? When so many people live in close proximity to each other, keeping the city clean becomes a major challenge.

However, many of the world’s cleanest cities, from Kobe to Calgary, have come up with creative solutions to the difficulties of dirty city living. Below, we’ve listed a few of the cleanest cities in the world, along with the methods they use to stay that way. After reading, yo u might look at your own city’s strategies in a new light, or get inspired to create a few solutions of your own.

Freiburg’s Eco-Friendliness

Located in Southwest Germany, Freiburg has a population of around 230,000. The city’s founding dates back to 1120 C.E. The city has belonged alternately to Germany, Austria, France, Spain, and Sweden during its long and turbulent history. It’s also survived the Thirty Years’ War, WWII bombing, and post-war French occupation.

How does a city with this much history stay clean? Primarily by privileging eco-friendliness. The city’s government works hard to provide clean transportation, use clean energy, manage waste properly, and conserve land. Together, these strategies reduce waste and pollution, keeping the streets cleaner and the air purer.

Singapore’s Local Laws

Singapore isn’t a city; it’s actually a sovereign city-state in Southeast Asia. In 2014, over 5 million people lived in Singapore, making it the third-most densely populated country in the world. With so many people living in such close proximity, how does Singapore consistently land on world’s cleanest cities lists?

For one thing, the only gum you’re allowed to chew in Singapore is that prescribed by a doctor. That means no sticky city streets or gooey shoes. Smoking is banned in most public places, including restaurants, movie theaters, and parks. Finally, littering is strictly prohibited, with stiff fines imposed for litterers.

Oslo’s Waste Management

Oslo has one of the highest populations in Europe, but there’s virtually no litter on the streets. Oddly enough, you won’t see any trash cans either. Where does the waste go, then? To an automatic underground waste disposal system run by the city. Many houses are c sh cans either. Where does the waste go, then? To an automatic underground waste disposal system run by the city. Many houses are connected to the system, which carries the trash underground. The waste is then burned by incinerators and used to fuel and heat the cit y, which reduces both pollution and waste in one blow.

Oslo also relies on citizens’ actions to keep the city clean. Through the Rusken campaign, Oslo residents gather to sweep streets, clean up beaches, tidy individual neighborhoods, and more. The Rusken campaign mascot drives around in a bright yellow electric car, encouraging citizens to join together as a community and participate in the event. All in all, around 200,000 people take part in the Rusken campaign each year.

Ifrane’s Low Emissions

Ifrane is located in Morocco and consistently ranks as one of the cleanest cities in the world. Because of its French colonial roots, Ifrane looks more like a Swiss ski village than a Moroccan city. It’s also high in the Middle Atlas Mountains, where it acts as a ski resort in the winter.

Although Ifrane is home to a university and has a population of 40,000 people, it doesn’t have a single carbon-emitting industry. The air and water stay clean, which means Ifrane citizens’ quality of life stays high.

Kobe’s Trash Collection

With 1.5 million people, Kobe is Japan’s sixth-largest city. It’s even older than Freiburg, dating back to 201 C.E. In spite of several devastating earthquakes, including the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, Kobe continues to function as a key port city.

Kobe’s government takes several steps to retain its clean reputation. For instance, the city offers different waste collection days for different types of waste, such as non-combustible waste, recyclables, and typical household waste. If you fail to place your waste in a designated trash bag, the city suspends your trash collection privileges.

Calgary’s Street Sweepers

Calgary is often listed as the world’s cleanest city. What’s the secret to their success? Their central wastewater site purifies up to 100 million liters of water every day. The city also focuses on purifying both their air and drinking water.

One thing that really sets Calgary apart, though, is their annual Spring Clean-up program. Each year, street sweepers scour over 86,000 miles (14,000 total kilometers) of Calgary’s roads. In 2014, street sweepers removed 65,000 cubic yards (50,000 cubic meters) of debris. As you can imagine, at the end of the process, the roads are pristine and beautiful.

Keep Your City Clean

Now that you know a little more about how major cities stay clean, you might have some ideas of your own to implement in your city. For instance, you could take a little more care to sort through your waste and pull out recyclables, like people in Kobe. You could drive less and reduce your overall emissions, like the city of Ifrane. You could even limit the amount of gum you chew like people in Singapore to clean up your sidewalks.

And the next time you see your local street sweepers cleaning up the road, give them a wave and a nod. They’re working along with you to make your city a cleaner, happier place to live.

The ET-Plus Guardrail Debate: Are They Safe?

An ET-Plus guardrail

Guardrails populate your city’s streets. You see them on virtually every bend in the road and freeway entrance. You assume these guardrails protect the drivers and passengers in your town and minimize car-related injuries and deaths. However, there has been some controversy over whether the end terminals of a particular type of guardrails do this job effectively.

Read on to learn more about the ongoing debate over the end terminals on ET-Plus guardrails and how states across the nation think about the issue.

What Guardrails Are Supposed to Do

Guardrails are designed to protect cars from going off the road. The end terminal, or rail head, sits at the end of a guardrail. You’ll see this part on both ends of the guardrails around your town, although only the rail head facing oncoming traffic tends to cause problems.

End terminals are designed so that if a car crashes into them head on, they will slide down the guardrail upon impact. As they move, the guardrail itself will crumple and shear away from the car in long strips.

This slows down the car’s speed, and keeps it from bouncing off and back onto the road where it could hit other drivers.

With an effective rail head, the car will still be damaged, but the guardrail won’t penetrate the vehicle.

ET-Plus Guardrails

Unlike other rail heads, the end terminals on a popular type of guardrail called ET-Plus might not do their job. Multiple complaints and a lawsuit have been filed in recent years claiming these end terminals “lock up” and cut straight into vehicles that hit them.

How ET-Plus Guardrails Are Different from Others

ET-Plus guardrails are manufactured by Trinity Industries. In 2005, Trinity reportedly made some changes to the guardrail’s design in order to cut down on costs. One of Trinity’s competitors, Josh Harman, filed a lawsuit in 2014 claiming these changes have made it possible for the guardrails to malfunction.

Lawsuit Against Trinity Industries

The lawsuit claims that due to a faulty rail head, rather than shearing away from cars who hit the end terminals, the guardrails remain intact and penetrate the vehicle. There have been multiple reports of incidents in which guardrails rammed through cars and caused major injuries, such as lost limbs and even fatalities.

The rail head’s design change restricted a feeder shoot from five inches wide down to four inches. The lawsuit against Trinity claims these smaller heads cause the railing to get stuck when cars strike them.

What Incidents with ET-Plus Guardrails Have Been Reported

There have been claims of dozens of deaths and over 100 injuries due to crashes in which ET-Plus end terminal supposedly malfunctioned.

For example, a Los Angeles man died in 2014 when he hit a guardrail that didn’t buckle properly, causing his car to flip upside down and smash into a sign pole. Another California man sustained severe injuries in 2014 after he crashed into a guardrail which sliced into his car and amputated his legs.

Trinity’s Response

Trinity denies that the modified design of their guard rails causes them to lock up on impact. In 2014, a Texas court imposed a fine on the company for not notifying the government of the design changes.

Trinity has since stopped selling the modified terminal ends and begun crash testing to analyze how the end terminals react in a collision.

How Various States Are Dealing with ET-Plus Guardrails

The majority of states have imposed a ban on future installation of ET-Plus guardrails, including:

  •  Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • Kansas
  • Arizona
  • Washington
  • New York

These states, among many others, will not include any ET-Plus end terminals in their current or future road projects. However, although further installations have been prohibited, existing end terminals still stand even in the states that refuse to install more.

ET-Plus Guardrail Test Results

Crash tests for the ET-Plus end terminals are ongoing and the complete results have not reached finalization. However, the Trinity-made guardrails passed their first four mandated crash tests. The rail heads have been tested eight times in total, and the results of the last half of the tests have not yet been released.

Although ABC news reported that some preliminary pictures seem to indicate negative results in the eighth crash test, the article also states Trinity claims you cannot jump to conclusions based on aerial images. While professionals on the plaintiff’s side have claimed the test looks like a clear failure, experts on the defendant’s side say it’s too soon to make premature judgments.

The debate over ET-Plus guardrails is still ongoing. If your state hasn’t banned future installation of these guardrails, and if you still have thousands of them out on your roads, the best thing you can do is make sure your rails are well-maintained and make repairs when necessary.

Keep up with this issue as it develops to help make sure your town’s guardrails remain effective protectors.

What to Do with Your Yard Waste After Spring Cleaning

Yard wasted in Florida needing to be cleaned up for spring.Soon, warmer weather will arrive, which means you need to plan your spring cleaning. You decide which household items you don’t need, and then you take a look at your yard. Thanks to Florida’s warm winters, it still looks fairly green. However, you know that that fad ed greenness will explode into vibrant new growth once spring arrives. You have to trim everything back before that happens.

You work hard until your yard looks pristine. You’ve pulled any weeds, and you’ve removed any dead branches or foliage. You’ve trimmed, mowed, and pulled until you have a sizeable waste pile sitting on your lawn. What do you do now?

Below, we’ve given you a guide on what you can and can’t do with your yard waste.

What You Shouldn’t Do

You may think of yard waste as harmless because it comes from 100% natural and biodegradable materials. However, it can harm the environment in your area if you don’t dispose of it properly. If you have yard waste to dispose of, do not do the following.

1. Put it in the street or gutter.

Even if your neighborhood has reliable street sweeping services, you shouldn’t put your yard waste in the street. Florida may have a reputation for sunny weather, but spring comes with a flurry of rainstorms. Rain could wash that waste into the gutter before the street sweepers ever get to it.

This may not sound like a problem, but if you have a lot of yard waste, it could quickly clog your gutters and storm drains. This will lead to flooding, which can mean destructive flooding in a heavy rainstorm. To avoid this problem, you have to keep your yard waste out of the street. You have many other disposal options, so you never have to put it in the road.

2. Put it in the trash bin.

This method may not seem like a big deal either. After all, your yard waste will quickly biodegrade in the landfill, right?

Even though this waste will soon break down, it still causes problems in a landfill. Yard waste doesn’t actually biodegrade quickly enough to save the space it occupies in the landfill. And the more yard waste you put in the trash, the more landfills the city has to dig. Yo u also waste perfectly good mulch materials at the same time. Even if you don’t need mulch, dispose of your waste properly so someone else can use it.

What You Should Do

You don’t have to rely on your curb or trash bin for yard waste removal. Use the following strategies instead.

1. Put it in your green bin, if you have one.

Many cities provide residents with a green bin, which they can use for yard or garden waste. If you have one, put your yard waste there. Simply take the bin to the curb on collection day. Since this may happen on a different day than regular trash, call your local waste disposal service to find out.

Keep in mind that some forms of yard waste cannot go into your green bin. These items include:

  • Animal waste
  • Any actual trash items
  • Dirt and rocks
  • Fibrous plants, like palm fronds
  • Large branches or limbs

You can put any other plant items, including small branches, into your bin.

2. Call your local waste hauling services for pickup.

If you don’t have a green bin, you can still call your local waste disposal service for pickup. The company will know exactly what to d o with your yard waste. They’ll either process it themselves or send it to other entities for use as mulch and other products.

3. Mulch it into your lawn.

You don’t necessarily have to remove your yard waste. You can use it instead. Spread it over your lawn, then use your lawn mower to break it into tiny pieces. The mower and your footsteps will press the waste into the ground, where it will break down and nourish your grass. By the time summer arrives, you’ll have a beautiful, vibrant lawn.

4. Turn it into mulch for your garden.

You can also gather your yard waste into a compost pile. However, before you leave the pile alone, make sure you remove any weed s or diseased plants. These items could infect the rest of the pile, making the soil useless. However, you can add any of the following to y our compost pile:

      • Acorns  and other seeds, if dead
      • Bark
      • Dead plants (including dead weeds, but remove the seeds)
      • Flowers
      • Grass clippings or thatch
      • Leaves
      • Pine cones and needles
      • Roots
      • Sawdust
      • Twigs and small branches
      • Vines

You can also add certain kinds of waste from your kitchen, including:

      • Fruit and vegetable scraps
      • Eggshells
      • Coffee grounds

Gather all your materials into a pile at least three feet deep, then sprinkle water all over the pile. Don’t soak it, as this could encourage mold. Just go out there every day and sprinkle the pile with water. Check the pile’s temperature to see if it decomposes. It will feel noticeably warmer. Turn the pile once a week to make sure all decomposing items get enough oxygen. You’ll know the pile has turned to mulch once it looks like dirt and no longer feels warm or wet.

 

These strategies help the environment instead of causing disasters. And if a little of your yard waste blows into the street, don’t worr y. Your neighborhood street sweepers will clear them away in no time. In the meantime, use these tips to keep your area clean. 

Gearing Up for Mardi Gras: Street Sweepers of Fat Tuesday

Cleaning up the streets after a Mardi Gras celebration.Also known as “Fat Tuesday” in English, Mardi Gras is a long-time tradition with origins in several Christian faiths. Since many early cities had French settlers, Mardi Gras has become a popular festival in certain areas of the United States.

Quality Street Cleaning

Although the spectators are vital to the celebration, street sweepers and other city staff are essential. If quality street cleaning equipment doesn’t arrive after the festival, cities will have difficulty getting even the simplest street clean. Street sweepers typically perform the following types of tasks:

  • Large/heavy construction debris removal

  • Gravel or pavement milling before replacement

    Gravel or pavement milling before replacement

  • Municipal street cleaning

As you can see, street sweepers deal with many large and difficult items. They have the capability to clean streets after a Mardi Gras celebration, but it’s important to know about the situational factors. After discussing the origins of Mardi Gras, we’ll address these factors.

Mardi Gras Over the Years

This celebration was originally intended as a time of indulgence before the Lent season begins on Ash Wednesday. With modern adjustments and newer traditions, Mardi Gras has become more of a spectator festival than a religious event.

The basic celebration includes revelry during the week leading up to Fat Tuesday, the actual day of Mardi Gras. Parades, concerts, balls, and many other events all signify the yearly celebration.

Since the majority of Mardi Gras celebrations occur on public streets and roads, a large street cleaning effort helps complete cleanup after the festivities end. Below, we’ll talk about why street cleaning after public events like Mardi Gras matters so much, and we’ll discuss what factors impact the success of this process.

Carnival Hot Spots

Three main cities boast the largest Mardi Gras celebrations in southern Florida. These include Pensacola, Hollywood, and Orlando. Although each city has its own style and way of celebrating, Orlando’s Universal Studios boasts one of the largest celebrations in the state.

From February to April, the successful theme park hosts concerts, special parades, and more related activities. Events happen on weekends leading up to and after Fat Tuesday. Regular park admission includes the cost of these events, attracting many people to enjoy t he celebration.

Post-Celebration Issues

As you might guess, the streets of any city play a huge role in Mardis Gras-related celebrations. In fact, New Orleans Mardi Gras estimates as many as half a million spectators lining their major parade routes. But what other factors besides crowded streets can affect their cleanliness?

Where large numbers gather, large amounts of garbage result. Some city officials even measure Mardi Gras success based on the amount of garbage left behind. But street cleaning does more than tackle large pieces of garbage. It also combats dirt, buildup, and other common street elements.

Traditional “Float Throws”

In addition to common street debris, carnivals provide a unique assortment of uncommon debris. Most floats distribute and throw many different items including:

  • Moon pies

  • Beads

  • Coins (or krewe-marked doubloons)

  • Candies

  • Plastic cups.

As the parades progress, the streets build up a large amount of these items each time. Unfortunately, many of these items catch in t he street sweeper brushes. The sweeper usually has to manually clean such items out before continuing on. This is one key challenge to post-Fat Tuesday street cleaning.

Weather

Celebrating cities like New Orleans and Orlando have an average yearly humidity between 74-76%. This added moisture also impact s street cleaning processes. Street texture and moisture both determine the amount of power required for a full cleaning.

Overly dry or muddy streets can negatively impact the cleaning process on both ends of the spectrum. Since southern Florida is extremely humid, this is a common issue that street sweepers deal with.

Other Issues

Since many carnival events consist of multiple parades in the same traffic area, it can prove difficult to combat the waste until after all parades cease. As you can imagine, items build up on the street each time. This makes it difficult for each successive parade to move through the street unhindered.

Parked cars can also prevent proper cleaning from taking place. For this reason, street cleaners usually post parking warnings before hand. The high volume of people and traffic associated with Mardi Gras celebrations makes it difficult to ready streets for normal cleanings.

A Return to Normalcy

Despite these various issues in post celebration cleanup, the right street sweeper can get any task done with the following traits:

  • Applicable job knowledge

  • Correct and functioning equipment

  • Timely scheduled arrival and cleaning

  • Sufficient staff support

If you’ve had disappointment when cleaning post-party streets before, make sure to verify these characteristics in your current street sweeper. Once you find someone who can provide all these requirements, you’ll find the process goes much more smoothly.

The next time you enjoy a Mardi Gras celebration or parade in a public street, think about all that work that goes into cleaning it up afterwards. You’ll likely appreciate the event all the more, as well as feel more motivated to do your part to clean up.