What is a Smart Work Zone System SWZS?
A system that uses technology to give motorists real-time traffic information to increase safety and allow them to make safer, more efficient driving choices as they approach a work zone.
What Makes it “Smart”?
These systems are called smart because they use technology such as radar, Bluetooth, cameras, and computer systems to monitor traffic and provide real-time information. The systems can provide information to travelers right when they need it, most commonly on roadside changeable message signs or flashing road signs (In addition, websites, email alerts, etc, can be used to allow better decision-making before starting on a trip). The messages provided can include travel times and alternate routes, warnings of sudden slow-downs in time to prevent collision, and warnings of immediate hazards such as trucks entering the highway. Messages can also improve roadway management by providing dynamic merge points or other features that improve roadway flow-through, and help reduce back-ups. PDP provides portable smart work zone equipment and also integrates fixed ITS equipment already in place.
The other reason these systems are smart is because of the benefits they can provide, Saving Lives, Money and Time, and Reducing Driver Frustration.
If properly designed and implemented, SWZ systems can:
- Reduce Accidents and Save Lives by making work zones safer for highway workers and motorists.
- Better inform motorists and reduce their frustrations
- Encourage motorists to take alternate routes
- Reduce congestion and allow more freely flowing traffic
- Clear incidents more quickly, thereby reducing secondary incidents
- FHWA 2012 Data: 1,200 deaths and 40,000 injuries in work zones (1)
- Freeway work zones have higher than normal crash rates
- Occupational Deaths: According to the CDC, highway transportation incidents are the leading cause of occupational fatality in the U.S. (2)
- Sudden slow-downs in work zones often do not leave drivers sufficient time to stop and avoid collision with other vehicles, or with highway workers.
How can Smart Work Zone Systems Help?
- Independent research has shown PDP’s TIPS system to reduce injury crash frequency which may lead to improved survivability. (3)
- Smart Work Zone Systems have also been shown in other studies to reduce speeding and calm traffic. (4)
- Smart Work Zone Systems can provide real-time warnings of delays and suggest alternate routes to travelers, saving time and reducing frustration.
- Studies have concluded that SWZS systems save more money than they cost. A recent study by Bushman et al showed a benefit to cost ratio between 1.2 to 11.9 (5)
- A 2005 study showed the cost/benefit ratio for PDP’s TIPS system to be much greater than 1, even without considering safety, fuel, or emissions impacts. (6).