Work zone and worker safety are of vital concern to transportation agencies, the construction industry, and the motoring public. In Florida, speeding in work zone areas accounts for 31 percent of fatal work zone crashes. Despite this, limited smart work zone (SWZ) applications and studies to date have focused on arterials and other non-freeway locations.
To close this research and implementation gap, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 7 led and managed an innovative arterial work zone safety project in partnership with FDOT’s safety team, the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida, and the Florida Work Zone Safety Coalition.
This innovative project sought successful engineering solutions to effectively address the major problems of speeding and unsafe behaviors in arterial work zones. FDOT and CUTR worked closely to plan, coordinate, implement, and evaluate proposed smart work zone applications under many test scenarios at six study sites. The technologies studied included the Active Work Zone Awareness Device (AWAD) and two iCone products. The AWAD is a relatively low-cost countermeasure that consists of a radar device with LED signs mounted on a trailer that warns approaching drivers of an active work zone, notifies them of their travel speed, and contains regulatory messaging. Also studied were two iCone boxes – one connected to an AWAD, the other to an arrow board – which create digitally-connected work zone and traffic control infrastructure and deliver relevant messaging to users of the Waze navigation app.
Two types of data were collected and analyzed in this study: approaching vehicle speeds and driver behaviors. Evaluation results demonstrated that for vehicle speed reduction, the deployment of the AWAD alone reduced approaching vehicle speeds entering arterial work zones by 10.6 percent; for driver behavior improvement, the deployment of the AWAD alone increased safe driving behavior by 39 percent and reduced risky driving by 34 percent. Even greater successes were seen when combining AWAD with enhanced law enforcement efforts.
These positive findings represent the first time that the AWAD and iCone smart work zone devices have been studied in arterial work zones and point to promising opportunities for improving work zone and worker safety.
Agency: Florida Department of Transportation
Project Contact: Michael Zinn, D7 Local Road Safety Program Manager
FHWA Associate Administrator for Safety Cheryl Walker presented the Award to FDOT staff during the virtual ceremony on October 6th.