Solution Summary: Temporary Longitudinal Barriers
Temporary longitudinal barriers, also known as temporary safety barriers and longitudinal channelizing barricades, are an effective means of separating work zone activities from active motorist traffic. Barriers are designed to protect drivers and road construction crews by creating channels of clear delineation. Temporary and movable barriers allow for expansion of work zone areas during off-peak traffic hours, which consequently saves time and allows for use of more efficient equipment.
Barrier Design: Barriers must be designed based on the expected work zone conditions, including speed limit, zone size (in miles), project length, and number of automobile accidents per year (Virginia DOT 2011). Plastic barriers are filled with fluid or ballast to increase the weight and thus the ability to deter vehicles if the barrier is struck.
Barrier Installation: Barriers can be installed using a forklift, track loader with fork attachment, or skid steer loader with fork attachment. On either end of a barrier, the mold in which the plastic is formed creates an interlocking mechanism that allows for a barrier to be attached to its adjacent counterparts. Barriers are typically extremely mobile and can be transferred to other locations on a jobsite with ease.
Three types of temporary longitudinal barriers are commonly used in work zones. These will be discussed in more detail:
- Plastic temporary longitudinal barriers
- Concrete temporary longitudinal barriers
- Steel temporary longitudinal barriers
Working on road construction sites creates an increased risk of work zone struck-by injuries and fatalities. Road maintenance operations occur in close proximity to traffic, and errant motorists create potential hazardous situations for both workers and road users. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2010 in the U.S., 576 of the 32,885 vehicle crashes that involved fatalities (1.8%) occurred in construction work zones (NHTSA 2010).
To investigate more recent data from 2011 to 2015 (the latest data available), statistics were collected from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In this five-year period, 1,111 transportation-related fatalities happened in the construction industry, involving aircraft, rail vehicles, animal and other non-motorized vehicle transportation, water vehicles, pedestrian vehicular incidents, etc. Among those, 319 incidents occurred in the pedestrian vehicular category, involving pedestrians who were struck by a vehicle in work zones. More specifically, 175 pedestrians (i.e., construction workers) died following struck-by-a-vehicle accidents on construction job sites between 2011 and 2015. This represents 64% of all fatalities of this kind in all industries in the United States. Federal Highway Administration also reported that on average, every 5.4 minutes, a work zone crashes occurred in 2015. In terms of severity, 73.0% were property damage only, 26.4 % involved an injured party, and 0.7% involved a fatality. By deploying temporary longitudinal barriers, the risk of struck-by injuries in work zone areas may be reduced or eliminated.
How Risks are Reduced:
Temporary longitudinal barriers reduce the risk of struck-by injuries by clearly delineating the separation between the work zone and motorist traffic. To reduce the risk of a struck-by incident in a work zone, if a vehicle strikes the barrier, the weight of the barrier is able to counteract the applied force and deter the vehicle from further entering the work zone. Barriers are not designed to withstand a head-on collision, which is why it is important to urge motorists to slow down and use caution because a high-speed traffic collision could pose an immense risk to not only the motorists involved, but all workers in the work zone at the time of a collision.
Effects on Productivity:
The goals of any construction contractor should be to not only complete the project in a timely and satisfactory manner, but also to reduce injuries and prevent fatalities. Any time a worker is injured or killed on a jobsite, valuable time is lost.Temporary longitudinal barriers reduce the duration of lane closures and increase productivity while improving work zone safety.
Sogand Hasanzadeh - SARMAD Research Group, University of Nebraska- Lincoln
Brett Farquhar - SARMAD Research Group, University of Nebraska- Lincoln
Behzad Esmaeili, Ph.D. - SARMAD Research Group, University of Nebraska- Lincoln
Pouya Gholizadeh - SARMAD Research Group, University of Nebraska- Lincoln
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