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SECTION I Summary Introduction The driving conditions of work zones differ from normal driving conditions. In addition, the driving conditions of each type of work zone (short-term, long-term, etc.) may differ from those of another type of work zone. These factors can result in violations of road user expectancy, which in turn can lead to congestion, erratic maneuvers, and ultimately crashes. Lack of driver knowledge of appropriate work zone driving actions, failure to obey traffic laws, and lack of awareness of work zones and/or workers also detract form work zone safety. As more and more of the nation's infrastructure reaches the end of its life cycle and fewer new roadways are constructed, work zones are becoming more and more prevalent on our roadways. This increased exposure to work zones increases opportunities for crashes to occur. Strategies that address all of these issues are presented and discussed in Section V. One of the hallmarks of the AASHTO Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) is to approach safety problems in a comprehensive manner. The range of strategies available in the guides will ultimately cover various aspects of the road user, the highway, the vehicle, the environment, and the management system. The guides strongly encourage the user to develop a program to tackle a particular emphasis area from each of these perspectives in a coordinated manner. To facilitate this coordination, the electronic form of the material uses hypertext linkages to enable seamless integration of various approaches to a given problem. As more guides are developed for other emphasis areas, the extent and usefulness of this form of implementation will become ever more apparent. The goal of the SHSP is to move away from independent activities of engineers, law enforcement, educators, judges, and other highway-safety specialists and toward the coordinated formation of working groups and alliances that represent all of the elements of the safety system. In so doing, people can draw upon their combined expertise to reach the bottom-line goal of targeted reduction of crashes and fatalities associated with a particular emphasis area. The six major areas of the AASHTO SHSP (Drivers, Vehicles, Special Users, Highways, Emergency Medical Services, and Management) are subdivided into 22 goals, or key emphasis areas, that impact highway safety. One of these goals addresses the improvement of safety in work zones. This implementation guide provides guidance to highway agencies that desire to implement safety improvements in work zones. It includes a variety of strategies that may be applicable to specific work zones or to agency procedures. General Description of the Problem In 2003, there were 919 fatal crashes (1,028 fatalities) and more than 40,000 persons injured in work zone crashes on America's highways (Fatal Accident Reporting System, or FARS, January 2005). Exhibit I-1 displays a trend of increasing deaths attributed to work zones from 1994 to 2003. During this timeframe, anecdotal evidence suggests that the number of I-1
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SECTION I--SUMMARY EXHIBIT I-1 Number of Work Zone Fatal Crashes and Fatalities, 19942003 1,400 1,200 Number of Fatal Crashes 1,000 or Fatalities 800 600 400 200 0 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 Year Source: FARS Web-Based Encyclopedia, fatal crashes fatalities January 2005, http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/ work zones have increased, although no definitive evidence or study encompasses all types of work zones. As more and more of the nation's infrastructure reaches the end of its life cycle, work zones are expected to remain a familiar sight on our roadways. Exhibit I-2 shows the types of work zones in which fatal crashes occurred in 2003. The preponderance of crashes occurred in long-term construction zones. Issues faced may vary by type of work zone, but safety improvements for all types of work zones are considered in the strategies discussed in Section V. A review of FARS data for 2003 yields additional insights into fatal crash characteristics in work zones: · More than half of all fatal work zone crashes occurred during the day. · More than twice as many work zone fatal crashes occurred on weekdays as on weekends. EXHIBIT I-2 Work Zone Fatal Crashes by Work Zone Type in 2003 Maintenance, 8% Utility, 2% Work Zone Type Unknown, 7% Construction, 83% Source: FARS Web-Based Encyclopedia, January 2005 http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/ I-2