The Texas A&M Transportation Institute and the Texas Department of Transportation have deployed a unique end-of-queue warning system in work zones that aims to decrease the frequency of rear-end collisions during construction.

April 09, 2014

PROVO, UT—The Texas A&M Transportation Institute and the Texas Department of Transportation have deployed a unique end-of-queue warning system in work zones that aims to decrease the frequency of rear-end collisions during construction. The system, which uses SmartSensor HD for vehicle detection, is currently being used in construction zones along Interstate 35 and is expected to be used at work zones throughout the state.

“This system lets motorists know how far in advance there is a slowdown,” says Larry Colclasure, the director of transportation operations at TxDOT. “It is part of our overall effort to provide real-time information designed for the motorists’ safety and the safety of the construction workers, too.”

Rear-end collisions make up 28 percent of all crashes, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. They are particularly problematic in work zones when drivers encounter traffic that has suddenly slowed or stopped without warning. The new system attempts to prevent these crashes by notifying drivers in advance that traffic ahead of them has stopped, giving them time to adjust their driving accordingly.

The system utilizes SmartSensor HD devices mounted on portable trailers in advance of work zone lane closures. Speed and volume data are analyzed and if the data meet certain thresholds, it activates a portable, changeable message sign located a few miles upstream of the work zone. The message notifies drivers that traffic ahead has slowed or is at a standstill. This allows drivers to make informed decisions and gives them more time to prepare to slow down.

Officials believe this system will help to decrease the number of rear-end collisions that occur in work zones. Bob Brydia, a research scientist at TTI who is the principal investigator on the project says the system has many benefits. Says Brydia, “These systems are portable and easy to set up on a nightly basis, and research indicates that they provide effective communication to drivers.”