The National Academies

NCHRP 20-07/Task 358 [Active]

Reducing Risks to Worker Safety in Work Zones Due to Distracted Drivers
[ NCHRP 20-07 (Research for AASHTO Standing Committee on Highways) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Staff Responsibility: David M. Jared
Research Agency: Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Principal Investigator: LuAnn Theiss
Effective Date: 3/1/2021
Completion Date: 9/1/2022


Work zones are complex and often hazardous places to work.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports several hundreds of worker fatalities in the transportation industry every calendar year.  Seventy percent of these transportation incidents involve a pedestrian worker struck by a vehicle.  Workers in work zones report an increasing concern of distracted drivers resulting in near misses, and vehicles hitting pedestrians and/or equipment in work zones.  In the past, driver distractions in the vehicle were limited to people, for example, eating, reading a map or applying makeup while operating the vehicle.  However, now technology allows drivers to e-mail, text, and make extended phone calls while driving.  An increasing need exists to determine what transportation agencies are doing to minimize or mitigate the intrusion of vehicles of distracted drivers into work zones and areas.

A significant amount of research has investigated how distracted driving impacts an individual’s ability to drive or the impact of technology use on driver performance.  The primary focus though has been on enforcement, education, and advocacy to reduce or eliminate use of technology while driving or operating a vehicle.  Little research has been performed to investigate what states are doing to alert workers or distracted drivers of approaching hazards prior to the distracted driver’s vehicle entering work areas.


The primary goal of this project is to develop a set of recommendations for the use of identified best practices used by transportation agencies (including the contracting community) to: (1) alert distracted drivers to the presence of a work zone or maintenance moving operation; and (2) prevent them for hitting a moving work vehicle or intruding into a work zone. 

STATUS: Research is in progress.

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