Improving Work Zone Safety Through Speed Management
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Improving Work Zone Safety Through Speed Management

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      Safety hazards are increased in highway work zones as the dynamics of a work zone introduce a constantly changing environment with varying levels of risk. Excessive speeding through work and maintenance zones is a common occurrence which elevates the dangers to both drivers and motorists in the work zone. Although most work zones are controlled by reduced speed limits or state law enforcement, driver adherence to these regulations and laws in very minimal, especially in work zones. Several studies have shown a correlation between speeding in work zones and traffic crashes which lead most traffic safety professionals to conclude that excessive speeding and speed variance are the contributing factors in a large percentage of traffic crashes, injuries or fatalities. The most influential factor in achieving speed compliance in the work zone is the driver’s perception of heightened risk. The main objective of this study was to determine the safest and most effective countermeasure for the reduction of vehicular speeds within construction and maintenance work zones. The purpose of the simulator experiment was to determine the effectiveness of a 20 countermeasures on the reduction of speed through work zones in a controlled laboratory setting. The literature review identified several past research studies utilizing speed reduction countermeasures in work zones and under normal traffic conditions. From this review, 20 countermeasures were selected for evaluation based upon discussions with ODOT personnel.The post hoc tests indicated that the presence of construction workers, presence of construction vehicles, law enforcement, speed photo enforcement and shifting lanes were most effective at reducing speeds in work zones. The least effective speed reduction countermeasures included 3 sets of 3 rumble strips, concrete barriers, Tech Report channelizing devices and changeable message signs with speed reductions less than 10 mph.
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