Work zone safety is of great concern to highway agencies, the construction industry, and the travelling public. Despite this concern, there is limited data on work zone crashes and fatalities that address trends, causality, and the best use of resources to improve work zone safety. Work zone crashes can occur both inside the work space and in the traffic space. There is no single solution to creating safer work zones. Effective countermeasures depend on understanding the characteristics of crashes (types of crashes, and where and when they are occurring), the characteristics of the work zone and roadway at the time of the crash, primary and contributing factors in the crash, measures of exposure, and the frequency with which certain characteristics occur. Having a greater understanding of this information will help in more effectively targeting efforts to improve work zone safety. Clear guidance was needed to encourage the use of a data-driven, comprehensive, collaborative planning approach for the selection and implementation of effective countermeasures to improve work zone safety. Over the last decade, numerous federal, state, and local initiatives to improve highway safety have resulted in the development of national and state Strategic Highway Safety Plans (SHSP), as well as the current Towards Zero Deaths initiative. Work zone safety is a component in many states’ SHSP’s. In spite of these efforts for comprehensive and collaborative safety planning, many institutional barriers still remain.
Under NCHRP Project 17-61, Texas A&M Transportation Institute was asked to develop comprehensive guidance on the characteristics of work zone crashes and the effectiveness of countermeasures in various categories (such as engineering, enforcement, education, Emergency Medical Services, and public policy) to reduce work zone crash frequency and severity, and improve overall work zone safety.