Highways, streets and bridges Research/studies Construction

Portable signs, lighting help with highway safety: study

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Corvallis, OR – Sufficient lighting, portable signs and visible police presence are among several contributing factors that help improve worker safety on highway paving projects, according to a study from Oregon State University.

In the study, which was conducted for the Oregon Department of Transportation, researchers analyzed the effectiveness of various traffic control measures on reducing vehicle speed in work zones. Researchers focused on a pair of case studies that examined multi-lane paving projects in the state.

Results were most effective when a portable, changeable message sign was used in combination with a radar speed display, researchers found. Sufficient distance (1,000 feet or more) between the signs allowed time for motorists to process the message and sufficiently reduce their speed.

Other recommendations:

  • To make workers visible to passing motorists, provide sufficient lighting and reflective clothing.
  • When possible, have a police officer park near the active work area with red and blue lights flashing.
  • When road conditions allow, create an additional buffer between the work and travel lanes. Traffic speeds decreased when such buffers were present.