Rear-end collisions are the leading type of work zone accident, often caused by motorists being unaware of slowed or stopped traffic ahead. In an effort to protect motorists and roadside work crews, many departments of transportation (DOTs) and road construction companies have come to understand the importance of end-of-queue warning systems. These warning systems alert drivers of slowed or stopped traffic ahead of time so they are able to come to a full stop. Warning messages are typically displayed on a large, changeable sign known as a message sign.
An important component of end-of-queue warning systems is the radar trailer. A radar trailer is a microwave radar unit that detects speed, volume, and co-occupancy for up to 22 lanes of traffic to capture real-time data. This data is then utilized to alert drivers about traffic and speed conditions. Radar trailers are so good at their jobs, that some DOTs mandate their use every half-mile through a work zone.
Smart Work Zones
Message signs and radar trailers are part of a larger system known as a smart work zone. Also known as an intelligent work zone, this system is a type of traffic control technology that’s custom-configured to suit the needs of a given area. It is deployed within highway work zones to improve road safety and maximize traffic efficiency by utilizing a sophisticated warning system and live data. For DOTs and contractors managing construction areas, these systems are both literally and figuratively a lifesaver—making the roads safer for motorists and work crews, while also making traffic flow management much easier.
Smart work zones reduce end-of-queue collisions (rear-end collisions) by providing advanced warning messages of slowed or stopped traffic ahead. They empower DOTs and contractors to make informed decisions by offering a real-time view of traffic conditions, which improves incident response time. Smart work zones also promote better traffic flows by providing drivers with alternate route information, implementing dynamic merge systems to reduce queue length, and displaying expected travel times through a work zone or exit.
Staying Safe in Construction Zones
It’s important to exercise caution whenever passing through an area with roadside work crews or construction nearby. Pay special attention to the warnings displayed on message signs, as they will alert you to important information about traffic flow and safe speeds. In addition, always maintain a safe amount of space between your car and the car in front of you. This will vary by speed, but in general, you should have several seconds to react to the motorist ahead.
While message signs and radar trailers greatly reduce the risk of end-of-queue collisions, we all have a responsibility to use our best judgment when on the road. Steer clear of driving distractions like texting, talking on the phone, snacking, or drinking beverages.
Smart Technology from Carolina Traffic Devices
Carolina Traffic Devices is the leader in providing smart work zone solutions across the Carolinas, from message signs to radar trailers and much more. Having completed several high-profile projects for NCDOT and SCDOT, we have the experience and equipment to ensure that your project goes smoothly. Our ITS Smart Work Zone configurations are the best on the market. Contact us today for assistance on your next construction project!