ITS Deployment Evaluation Executive Briefing: ITS for Work Zones
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ITS Deployment Evaluation Executive Briefing: ITS for Work Zones

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  • English

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      Work zones play a critical role in the preservation and enhancement of roadways. They separate construction and maintenance activities from traffic, providing a safe route for all road users (motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists) and a safe area for workers. However, work zone-related changes in traffic patterns and rights of way, combined with the presence of workers and the frequent movement of work vehicles, can result in crashes, injuries, and fatalities [1]. In the United States in 2019, 842 people died in highway work zone crashes compared to 757 the year before. The 11.2 percent increase is the largest percentage increase of highway work zone fatalities since 2006 [2]. Crashes in highway work zones happen most frequently when drivers are not paying attention to changing road conditions. Distracted driving is a key element of many crashes, resulting in drivers crashing into other vehicles, highway equipment or safety barriers. Though highway workers are often among the victims of work zone crashes, the dangers of reckless driving more often affect those behind the wheel and their passengers. Four out of five work zone fatalities were drivers or passengers, according to FHWA data [2]. Agencies use both portable and permanent work zone Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) solutions to combat such incidents. Portable Traffic Management Systems (PTMS) can be rapidly deployed to improve safety and mobility regardless of work zone location. Using queue sensors, Dynamic Message Signs (DMS), video cameras, communication equipment, and other hardware and software components, these systems can automatically monitor traffic conditions and communicate with vehicles and drivers to improve situational awareness, harmonize traffic flow, and lessen the impacts of reduced capacity at work zones. More permanent solutions can be implemented for longer term projects or where ITS can be integrated into initial construction. Permanent work zone solutions are generally used as freeway or arterial management systems during time periods without construction activities. These systems often provide broader coverage and use traveler information networks such as 511 services, DMS systems, traffic detection networks, and agency websites to improve system operations, trip planning and traveler behavior.
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