Before and After Study For a Field Test of Various Connected Technologies in Different Work Zone Environments to Determine Their Impact on Safety.
Smart Work Zone (SWZ) shows efficiency in traffic management process and can improve safety for traffic, workers, and pedestrians. This study conducted a pilot implementation of SWZs at seven arterial sites (US-98, SR-580, US-92, US-19, N Dale Mabry, US-301 and Veterans Expressway) in Florida District Seven from May, 2020 to June, 2021. The objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of deploying Active Work Zone Awareness Devices (AWADs), connected vehicle technologies for traffic cones, stationary police vehicles with flashing blue lights, and their combinations in enhancing work zone safety. Utilizing radar and flashing LED signs, AWADs warn drivers of upcoming active work zones on arterial roads, displaying travel speed, and signs like "Active Work Zone When Flashing" and "Speeding Fines Doubled". A before and after study was used to evaluate the effectiveness for the deployments of SWZs and the performance in reducing vehicle speeds as well as risky driving behaviors.
The data collection process utilized two devices: a smart sensor which records vehicle speed per lane, and a camera which is used to document traffic conditions, traffic signal status, and driving behaviors. The collected vehicle speed data and driving behavior data were used in the before and after study across various testing scenarios by noting the presence of AWADs, law enforcement (LE) with a stationary police vehicle, and work zone type (lane closure, lane shift, median/shoulder work). The improvements in safety due to SWZs and LE were qualified and quantified through a series of statistical analyses.
- AWAD deployments alone were effective in decreasing vehicle speeds by 10 percent, increasing safe driver behavior (such as smooth lane change or slow-down) by 44 percent, and reducing risky driver behavior (such as sudden lane change or deceleration) by 43 percent. The addition of law enforcement generally improved these safety benefits.
- AWAD deployment was effective at increasing safety under low and moderate traffic conditions, but not heavy or congested conditions.
- The combination of AWAD and LE is especially effective on rural roads with high posted speed limits and large work zone induced speed limit reductions.