• March 1st, 2000

The issue of work zone safety cannot be properly addressed without attempting to understand fully the problems associated with work zones. The purpose of this research project was to investigate the current status of work zone safety in Alabama and other states and to recommend possible safety-enhancement measures. A database of crash report information was mined through the use of the Critical Analysis Reporting Environment (CARE) to identify characteristics of crashes that occurred in Alabama, Michigan, and Tennessee. Characteristics of work zone crashes were compared to those of non-work zone crashes in all three states. It was found that the ‘typical’ work zone crash involves a male driver, age 25 to 34, who, while driving in clear weather during a mid-afternoon on a U.S. highway or Interstate roadway, comes upon slow or stopped traffic due to construction and crashes into another vehicle. While most characteristics are common to all three states, fatal crashes were more likely to have occurred in Alabama work zones than in other states. A similar analysis was then performed focusing on fatal crashes in Alabama work zones. Fatal work zone crashes were compared to fatal non-work zone crashes and to non-fatal work zone crashes. Fatal crashes in work zones in Alabama were found to be more likely than other fatal crashes or other work zone crashes to involve driving under the influence of alcohol, drivers not wearing seat belts, driver not in control, and head-on collision, and to occur on Sunday, off the roadway, and in the dark where there are no streetlights. Additional data were collected on specific work zones in Alabama that had a high frequency of crashes. This data suggested that most fatal work zone crashes occur when the work zone is inactive.