Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Kevin Heaslip


Kevin Heaslip


Anthony Chen


Paul Barr


Work zones present a risk to drivers and to personnel constructing the roadway. In 2005 work zones accounted for 2.5% of fatalities nationwide, 3.5% for the state of Utah. The goal of this research is to make work zones safer by quantifying the risk that they present to drivers. The approach of this research has been to review part 6 of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and compare the differences from the 2003 and 2009 editions, conduct field studies of Utah work zones, and develop a tool for measuring risk in work zones. In the 2009 MUTCD an effort is made to provide additional safety measures to disabled pedestrians. Also, guidelines are set for the use of new technology for work zones, flagger procedures, and incident management. Research was done to ascertain what several states are doing to promote safety around work zones. The states that are highlighted in this report are Arkansas, North Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Virginia. These methods include integration of a Smart Work Zone system, late lane merge, investigation of higher quality traffic control devices, and application of other technologies to make drivers aware of work zone conditions. Discussion about the various technologies available and their effects on traffic found through research is also provided in this thesis. Research for safety and safety regulations continues.

An audit process developed at Utah State University and the Illinois Institute of Technology was used to conduct an evaluation of work zones in Utah. The audit was instrumental in evaluating the measures being used on highway and interstate roads work sites. The results and observations of this research were utilized to make standards concerning conditions of signs and delineation devices. Also observations were used to determine risk factors pertaining to a work zone. These factors were implemented in a spreadsheet that served as an analysis tool for quantification of risk in a work zone. Eleven projects in highways and arterials were audited and analyzed with the analysis tool developed. The risk scores attained from this tool range in value, and though the values may not be an exact value of the present risk, the tool still proved to be effective as an estimation device for auditors and contractors alike. The tool also proved efficient in quickly identifying the areas of concern in the work zone, and giving an estimate on the impact that improvements will have on the safety of workers and drivers. For the 11 work zones audited, the recommendations were enforcement of speed limit, improvement of signs in the work zone, and use of positive protection, among others.




This work made publicly available electronically on April 6, 2011.