Field testing in the UK estimates a 10:1 benefit-cost ratio of a VMS over-height vehicle warning system compared to conventional physical beam systems.

Prototype testing of an Intelligent workzone traffic management system in the UK.

Date Posted

Workzone safety can be economically viable

Summary Information

The Safelane project has demonstrated the development of a state-of-the-art yet cost-effective workzone traffic management system. Traditional workzone safety measures are typically reliant on static components, such as traffic cones and soft barriers (temporary maintenance) or concrete Jersey barriers (long term projects). Workzone management innovation may have substantial safety benefits for road workers, of whom 20 percent have suffered injuries from passing vehicles in the United Kingdom.


For this test deployment, team leader Highway Resource Solutions and partners have introduced a number of ITS-inspired components to the model workzone, including:
  • "Intellicone" sensors, with rechargeable smart batteries
  • Portable variable message signs (VMSs)
  • Personal impact alarms for supervisors
  • Video recording capability
  • Work vehicle exiting workzone warning for motorists (displayed by VMS)
  • Traffic information (displayed by VMS)
  • Over-height vehicle warning (displayed by VMS)
Tests conducted by the project team demonstrated how these system elements cooperate during a simulated scenario. For instance, the "intellicone" sensor will detect a dangerous vehicle, trigger an audible alarm and "STOP" display on the VMS. Site managers will be informed electronically of any collisions, and video cameras will record incidents.


The Safelane project recently completed prototype testing and has not quantified many of its anticipated benefits. Project leaders anticipate substantial savings from the VMS component as well as the introduction of smart rechargeable batteries. For instance, the project manager has calculated a 10:1 benefit-cost ratio of the new VMS over-height vehicle warning compared to conventional physical beam systems, crediting the savings to the flexibility afforded by the mobile VMS. The project also anticipates significant safety benefits for workers, particularly due to the reassignment of perimeter guarding workers to other roles.