The Safer Choice

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Every road construction project has hundreds of choices associated with it. Make sure to make the safe choice every chance you get.

Josh Huntsman
Posted on
December 1, 2017

Imagine you are in the middle of the road with traffic whizzing by with only a plastic safety barrel standing between you and rushing semi-trucks. If you are one of the approximately 145,000 road workers in the United States, this scenario is a reality. For around 750 workers a year, this scenario ends up with a work zone fatality, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Every day, everyone involved in transportation infrastructure - from road builders and maintainers to contracting agencies to even policy makers and law enforcement - can make choices that either increase or decrease safety for workers on the road and the driving public.  These choices aren’t hidden or difficult to find and implement. The CDC has even published a research paper entitled Building Safer Highway Work Zones: Measures to Prevent Work Injuries from Vehicles and Equipment, with steps people on every level of the roadway construction and improvement industry can take to increase safety.  Covering dozens of topics ranging from large-scale policy issues to the best material for work gloves, this document can and should be a vital part of any road construction conversation.  

To "minimize worker exposure to traffic hazards," the Building Safer Highway Work Zones research paper suggest that the safety of employees should be a priority in every step of the operation, including the decision as to what detection equipment to use.  When it comes to installing traffic detection, this suggestion can fall to the wayside when traditional inductive loops or other in-road methods are chosen.  

In other words, workers are in danger every minute it takes to saw and trench in the pavement for intrusive detection installation. This is a reality recognized by transportation agencies from around the world.  In the United Kingdom, Highways England’s Aiming for Zero initiative is working to keep every road worker safe by eliminating dangerous situations, including the work required to install or repair loops.  This has led to the widespread installation of SmartSensor HD.  Closer to home, Washington State's Target Zero Strategic Highway Safety Plan has led to that state's DOT replacing loops with SmartSensors Advance and Matrix in several award-winning projects in order to achieve their stated goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries.  And in Tampa, Florida, after a road worker was killed while installing pneumatic tubing for vehicle counts, the city searched for a safer alternative and ended up choosing SmartSensor Matrix .  

These examples are just the beginning. As safety becomes more and more of a priority, agencies turn to Wavetronix SmartSensors as the safer choice for vehicle detection. Like all non-intrusive technology, SmartSensors install above the road, meaning a worker’s exposure to hazardous traffic conditions is limited. Often lane closures are not even required for installation.  

Unique to SmartSensor is its unparalleled reliability.  Unlike other radar sensors or cameras, routine maintenance is unnecessary, eliminating even more hazardous time for workers. If alterations are required, due to lane changes, for example, that can easily be done on the side of the road or even remotely.  And, of course, because SmartSensors continue performing accurately for years, workers don’t need to be onsite dealing with faulty detection. In fact, many of our sensor installations have been working hassle free for more than a decade.  

In the end, the choice of which traffic detection technology to use is just one of hundreds of choices made in a construction or maintenance project, but making the safe choice for each one is vital and adds up to a future where road worker fatalities are a thing of the past.