USDOT report lists strategic objectives for work zone safety

Report adds to ATSSA Special Edition on Roadway Worker Protection

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published a summary report on “Identification of National Work Zone Safety Objectives and Activities.”

The report includes 11 strategic objectives and notes work zone crash trends, providing another resource for ATSSA members.

ATSSA recently published its Roadway Worker Protection Special Edition,” a supplement to the Fall issue of Roadway Safety magazine, which included articles on:

The Roadway Worker Protection Special Edition also includes a state-by-state breakdown of work zone crashes.

The section of the USDOT report on work zone crash trends notes work zone safety challenges identified by studying fatal injury and non-fatal injury traffic data from 2015-19.

  • Fatal work zone crashes increased 16% from 2015-19, from 658 fatal work zone crashes to 765. Nationwide, fatal crashes increased 2% during that timeframe.
  • 41% of fatal work zone crashes occur on interstate facilities compared to 12% of non-work zone fatal crashes.
  • Rear-end collisions account for a “significantly greater” percentage of fatal and injury work zone crashes on interstates compared to non-work zone crashes. Nearly 42% of fatal work zone crashes on rural interstates involve rear-end collisions.
  • Driver distraction is “slightly overrepresented” in fatal and injury work zone crashes compared to non-work zone crashes but it is theorized distraction plays a role in more accidents than known because of the difficulty in determining it.
  • As much as 33% of fatal work zone crashes involve speeding as a factor.
  • Commercial motor vehicles, in particular large trucks, are overrepresented in fatal work zone crashes.
  • Motorcycles are slightly overrepresented in fatal work zone crashes, primarily in urban areas.
  • 45% of worker fatalities at roadway work sites involve a vehicle hitting a worker who is on foot.

The report also identifies three other areas of challenge for work zone safety:

  • Improving prediction capabilities regarding work zone conditions and activities that contribute to crashes.
  • Reducing workspace intrusions and worker struck-by vehicle crashes.
  • Accommodating connected vehicles (CVs), automated vehicles (AVs) and advanced driver assistance (ADAS) technologies through work zones.

The bulk of the report focuses on 11 strategic objectives and offers suggestions for research, collaboration, guidelines, training, outreach and technology development. Following are the objectives.

Strategic Objective 1: Minimize driver behaviors that contribute to work zone crashes.

Strategic Objective 2: Reduce worker struck-by incidents and work zone activity area intrusions.

Strategic Objective 3: Reduce commercial motor vehicle involvement in fatal and injury work zone crashes.

Strategic Objective 4: Expand the availability of useful data-driven analyses and management process to enhance work zone safety.

Strategic Objective 5: Improve safety and accommodation of pedestrians, cyclists and persons on personal conveyances through and around work zones.

Strategic Objective 6: Expand the availability, accuracy and use of work zone event data.

Strategic Objective 7: Identify, evaluate and implement cost-effective safety improvements to temporary traffic control.

Strategic Objective 8: Improve accommodation of traffic incident management needs in work zones.

Strategic Objective 9: Improve accommodation of motorcyclists through and around work zones.

Strategic Objective 10: Improve connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) abilities to more safely approach and traverse (or avoid) work zones.

Strategic Objective 11: Incorporate work zone safety into strategic workforce development efforts.

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