Planning for Construction: Safety Strategies for Work Zone Traffic

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In any type of construction situation that has a roadway nearby, it is important that traffic is routed appropriately. A certain degree of planning must go into the management of traffic around a worksite quickly, in the early planning stages of construction.

Effective traffic management of a work zone is necessary for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Worker safety
  • Motorist safety
  • Minimize traffic delays
  • Maintain access for homes and businesses
  • Timely completion of road work

This involves assessing the impacts that a work zone would have on various aspects of an area, including the traffic as well as finding ways to mitigate those impacts and document them in a transportation management plan, or TMP.

In 2010, in the United States, there were 87,606 work zone crashes. This number makes up nearly 2% of the total number of crashes on the roadway in 2010. While most of the crashes were not fatal (only around 0.6% were fatal), 30% caused injuries. In 69% of the work zone crashes, only property damage was incurred. The majority of crashes in a work zone occurred between 8:00 a.m. and 4:59 p.m.

Day time work saw more rear end crashes than night time, while sideswipe collisions happen only slightly more often at night, as do fixed object collisions. Although it is important for motorists to have adequate traffic control measures to follow at any time of the day or night, it is during the daytime that measures should be actively in place and monitored. An effective plan can address all of these concerns and more.

There are several considerations that go into planning for construction work zone traffic. The traffic management strategies should be built around the construction staging and phasing plan, project constraints, anticipated work zone impacts, and the type of work zone. Once they are in place, they should be monitored regularly to ensure that adjustments can be made as needed to maintain traffic flow.

When creating your own plan, there are certain elements that must be included. While you want it to be effective and safe, you also want to ensure that it complies with all applicable laws. When the authorities look at your plan, they are looking for specific things. Your Maintenance and Protection of Traffic (M&PT) should follow these guidelines:

  • Very good design
  • Excellent implementation
  • Drivers are adequately guided at all points and in all situations
  • There are few deficiencies and those that exist are minor
  • If any comment is made, it is in regard to fine tuning the existing plan
  • All traffic control devices (TCD) are appropriate for the situation, in good condition, and placed properly

By contrast, the lowest rated methods include inadequate traffic controls, potential danger or driver problems if the driver does not know the area. Controls are not suitable for adverse driving conditions. These are for a plan rated at a 1. A plan rated as a 0 includes little to no coordination traffic control, very few signs or devices, or devices are not present at all. Overall the plan is ineffective and motorist have no guidance as they travel through the work zone or guidance that is provided directs drivers to unsafe or inappropriate responses.

The safety impacts alone of a substandard work zone traffic plan can cause substantial problems for motorists, pose a very real danger to workers and drivers, and slow both traffic and work. Cutting corners may look appealing at first, but when you look deeper it is evident that very real dangers exist. A careless plan or neglected work zone could result in serious harm to others, even death.

When moving through a work zone, there may be dangers that the driver is not even able to perceive. When they are adequate signs and other traffic controls, it alerts motorists of possible risks and keeps traffic flowing with minimal bottlenecks.

In many cases, work zone traffic control software has been found to be very beneficial. It can make the planning portion far easier and much more efficient. A plan that is easy to customize and has a wide variety of features and options is ideal. It is a wise investment that is well worth the money. It pays for itself almost immediately.

At Invarion, work zone traffic is our business. We understand the hassles and headaches that can accompany planning for a safe worksite and routing work zone traffic. Check us out to learn how we can help you and to learn about RapidPlan our cutting edge software for temporary traffic planning. Contact us and a member of our knowledgeable, friendly team will help you find the best customized solution to fit your needs. When you are planning for construction, work zone traffic should not be one of your top worries. Let us help you take that off your plate and make your life just a little bit easier.