Highway construction zone safety has been a research focus in many countries for many decades. In the United States, regardless of the research efforts devoted, highway construction zones remain a serious safety concern for government agencies, legislatures, the highway industry, and the traveling public. In this study, the fatal and injury accidents between 1992 and 2004 in Kansas highway construction zones were examined systematically and their major characteristics were compared. The results showed significant differences between fatal and injury accidents in the construction zones. The researchers found that: (1) head-on was the dominant type for fatal accidents while rear-end was the dominant injury accident type; (2) a large percent of fatal accidents involved trucks while a majority of injury accidents involved light-duty vehicles only; (3) disregarded traffic control, alcohol impairment, and speeding caused a much larger proportion of fatal accidents while followed too close caused a much higher percentage of injury accidents; and (4) unfavorable light conditions and complicated road geometries contributed to causing a larger percentage of fatal accidents than to causing injury accidents.
Based on the study results, practical safety countermeasures targeted at different severity of accidents are recommended in terms of construction zone traffic control and public education.