In response to the Casper Star Tribune editorial on Nov. 21 titled “Last year’s 31 workplace deaths are far too many,” we want to describe the efforts of the Wyoming Transportation Safety Coalition. It was formed in early 2013 at the request of Gov. Mead to review and address Wyoming’s high fatality rate in the workplace for transportation.
The coalition is facilitated by the Wyoming Trucking Association, Inc. Members include trucking industry representatives from each region of the state who represent a myriad of commodities being hauled, routes being driven and types of equipment and operation. The coalition also includes energy industry representatives, members from various divisions within WYDOT and people from various other state agencies (Department of Workforce Services, the governor’s office, state epidemiologist).
Also in the coalition are federal agencies (FMCSA, NHTSA, FHWA), representatives from local government (city and county, local traffic enforcement groups), the Wyoming Contractors Association and the Wyoming State AFL-CIO. Members are added as necessary as the coalition identifies stakeholders.
The official mission of the coalition is reducing work-related transportation fatalities through education, training and working relationships with stakeholders charged with overseeing transportation in Wyoming. The coalition is a proactive organization working to develop processes that will aid in reducing transportation fatalities on the roadways of Wyoming.
The coalition has spent time reviewing fatal crash data, identifying specific trouble roadways in Wyoming, identifying the causes and contributing factors to those crashes and implementing initial low-cost, high-yield efforts for crash mitigation efforts, while making recommendations for long term solutions.
WYDOT has been proactively addressing dangerous driving conditions for commercial vehicles on Teton Pass and Highway 16.
The coalition is actively documenting high-traffic industrial areas and future high-traffic areas to determine what type of mitigation effort could be implemented. And it is identifying methods to better educate both Wyoming-based employees from all work areas that involve transportation as well as out of state commercial vehicle drivers about specific hazards associated with Wyoming driving.
And we are exploring the possibility of providing information about winter and mountain driving to commercial drivers as they enter the state at kiosks at ports of entry.
The coalition is mapping possible future high traffic areas associated with the energy industry to identify possible hazards and address those areas prior to the implementation of the project. Research is ongoing regarding possible legislative or regulatory changes that may be necessary to provide for “safety” zones in some traffic corridors.
Members have worked with local legislators, county commissioners, as well as citizen groups, to address issues on Teton Pass while continuing to allow commercial vehicle traffic.
Members have also been contacting other state trucking associations, shippers and departments of transportation, as well as national organizations to help distribute the message of driving challenges in Wyoming.
Meetings with members of WYDOT and meteorologists focus on what types of information are most helpful for Wyoming highway users and how that information can best be distributed.
The coalition commends Gov. Mead on his commitment to reducing transportation fatalities. We feel strongly that the efforts will not only help reduce transportation workplace fatalities but also highway fatalities in general.