There are over 40,000 injuries each year from vehicle crashes in work zones. In 2009, there were 667 work zone fatalities (FHWA). To keep these numbers in perspective, the FHWA calculated that there is one work zone injury every 13 minutes. Keeping workers and drivers safe is of critical concern. What can be done to help improve work zone safety?
Many of the tactics used to decrease safety in work zones, such as reminder signs, flags, and warning cones are ignored or overlooked by drivers. This is particularly hazardous on highways, where vehicles are driving faster and accidents are more likely to be fatal.
According to the Oregon Department of Transportation , it takes drivers 2.5 seconds to react to a hazard. A vehicle travels 1.5 times the traveling speed in feet per second. At 60 mph, a motorist is therefore driving 90 feet per second. In the 2.5 seconds it would take him to respond to a hazard, he would have already driven 225 feet before even hitting the breaks, putting himself and workers at serious risk. How can work zone driving behavior be improved?
Radar speed signs have been shown to effectively change driver behavior. By making motorists aware of their environment and reminding them of the speed they are supposed to be driving at, radar signs activate the feedback loop, encouraging drivers to adjust their driving to the surroundings.
The SafePace 500 variable speed limit sign displays the current speed limit to drivers in brightly lit LEDs, reminding them to drive at lower speeds in the work zone area. It can be programmed to change speed limits based on time of day or week, so that lower speed limits are displayed during hours when work is taking place. The standard SafePace 400 “Your Speed” sign is also an excellent work zone tool, notifying drivers of what the current speed limit is as compared to their own speeds. The dynamic messaging SafePace 600 radar sign can be used to display messages to drivers with two lines of customizable text in addition to the displayed speed.