Remotely operated devices for traffic control–portable traffic lights and automated flagger assistance devices–are used to improve flagger safety in a one-lane-each-way work zone with lane closure. Previous research has measured the effectiveness of these devices as driver compliance rates and driver understanding of the devices, but the effects of these devices on driver behavior have not yet been examined comprehensively. Therefore, the influence of remotely operated stop—slow traffic control devices on driver behavior was examined. Video-recorded traffic movements from a rural work zone in the Queensland state of Australia provided driver speeds, deceleration profiles, stopping behavior, and compliance rates for a set of remotely operated devices new to Australia: static red—amber—green lights, static red—amber lights, static red—amber arrow lights, and mechanical stop—slow signs. Pneumatic tube traffic counters were used to collect driver speeds before and after the devices, and an on-road driver survey was conducted to elicit driver understanding of the devices. Results indicated that drivers had difficulty understanding the new devices, particularly the amber light and amber arrow options (which confused drivers about their meaning–to stop or to go). The new remotely operated devices resulted in higher approach speeds, greater variability in approach speeds, and faster deceleration rates than the flagger method. The good compliance rates observed with the remotely operated devices imply that the devices could improve flagger safety by reducing flagger exposure to traffic; however, the negative effects on driver behavior might indicate an increased risk of rear-end crashes in the advance warning area.
Publisher: Transportation Research Board
Publication Date: 2017
Full Text URL: Link to URL
Publication Types: Books, Reports, Papers, and Research Articles
Topics: Automated Flaggers; Behavior; Flagging; Lane Closure; Portable Traffic Signals; Worker Safety