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SECTION III Type of Problem Being Addressed General Description of the Problem The safe and efficient flow of traffic through work zones is a high priority for transportation officials and the motoring public. In a recent survey, work zones were cited as second to poor traffic flow in causing dissatisfaction with roadway facilities (Keever et al., 2001). Exhibit III-1 indicates that work zones are estimated to contribute to 10 percent of the congestion in the United States. This is a rough estimate based upon a variety of congestion research sources. Although mobility may be the issue most often associated with work zones, mobility and safety are linked. The Federal Highway Administration has stated that as congestion builds within and approaching work zones, crash rates increase (FHWA, 1998). 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 (FARS, 2005). Exhibit III-2 displays a trend of increasing deaths attributed to work zones over the last 7 years. During this timeframe, anecdotal evidence suggests that the number of 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 III-3 shows the distribution of work zone types in which fatal crashes occurred in 2003. The preponderance of crashes occurred in long-term construction zones. Issues faced by drivers may vary by type of work zone, and safety improvements for all types of work zones are considered in the strategies discussed in Section V. Despite the large number of reported work zone fatalities, there is a general sense that the scope of the problem may be much worse, as there are many inconsistencies in defining and reporting work zone crashes from state to state. The safety of roadway construction workers in work zones is also of primary importance. According to an American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) review of federal data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roadway construction workers are killed at a rate nearly three times as high as other construction workers and eight times as high as general industry workers. The fatality rate for roadway construction workers is 32 people for every 100,000 workers. By comparison, the rate for all construction is about 13 people per 100,000 workers, and the general industry rate is about 4 people per 100,000 workers (ARTBA, 2004). The need for continued emphasis on work zone safety becomes more apparent because of the current emphasis on system preservation rather than construction of new facilities. Funding patterns support this point, as the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that the share of transportation capital funds used for system preservation rose from 47.6 percent in 1997 to 52.0 percent in 2000, and this percentage increase is expected to continue. III-1

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SECTION III--TYPE OF PROBLEM BEING ADDRESSED EXHIBIT III-1 Sources of Congestion Traffic Congestion and Reliability, 2004 Special Events/Other (5%) Poor Signal Timing (5%) Bad Weather (15%) Bottlenecks (40%) Work Zones (10%) Traffic Incidents (25%) System preservation--reconstruction of an existing roadway--is inherently more risky for both construction workers and roadway users than construction on new alignment. The prevalence of work zones on the roadway network may be best described by Wunderlich and Hardesty (2003), who report that about 20 percent of the National Highway System is under construction each year during the peak summer road work season, with the total number of highway work zones estimated to be more than 6,400. This study collected project information posted on agency websites, and these websites would most likely list only large projects rather than a complete list of all projects. Had EXHIBIT III-2 Number of Work Zone Fatal Crashes and Fatalities, 19942003 1,400 Number of Fatal Crashes 1,200 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, III-2