Driver alert

Case Studies
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In 2004, 24 people were killed in traffic accidents in Kansas. Of those, nine had lost their lives in construction work zones on U.S. 50, near Peabody, Kan., in May and June 2004.

In those tragic accidents, traffic had built up in the work zones, forming a queue. The drivers who followed, who caused the accidents, were seemingly unaware of the slowdown of traffic.

The first fatal accident occurred on Monday, May 10. A tractor-trailer, approaching a U.S. 50 work-zone queue, just west of Peabody, failed to stop in time, and rear-ended a minivan. The impact ejected the two front-seat passengers from the minivan, and they died at the scene. A 15-year-old child seated in the back was critically injured.

On Monday, June 28, in a work zone on U.S. 50, east of Peabody, a tractor-trailer hit a pickup truck that had stopped in the queue. The pickup exploded on impact, burning its two occupants to death.

The very next day, Tuesday, June 29, in the same work zone, near Monday’s fatal accident, another truck driver apparently did not see the queued traffic and did not stop in time. The truck came to rest on top of a minivan and partly on top of a small car. Five people died at the scene.

In preliminary reports, Kansas officials cited speed, fatigue and inattentive driving as the cause of these accidents. Further, they observed, construction work-zone warning signs followed DOT plans.

Among possible preventive solutions, transportation officials saw the need for new, effective traffic safety countermeasures.

Kansas had often employed temporary, transverse rumble strips, built from asphalt. But, because the asphalt strips were difficult to install and remove, they used asphalt strips only for static, long-term work zones, like bridge deck replacement. They had no rumble strips portable enough to install or remove daily.

As such, to reduce accidents, Kansas envisioned a commercial, temporary transverse rumble strip that would meet the following requirements.

First, the rumble strip must alert drivers to changing road conditions. Second, it must be a temporary device, easily installed and removed, for short-term, one day or less, work zones. Last, the strip should retain its original installed position, with little movement.

Hearing the call, PSS launched a design project to meet these general requirements. And in early 2008, we asked Kansas to test prototypes of our RoadQuake Temporary Portable Rumble Strip .

We will publish Part II of “Driver alert: The origins of a traffic safety countermeasure” in our next sponsored Case Study, scheduled for Oct. 14, 2011.

For more information about RoadQuake Temporary Portable Rumble Strip, please visit www.plasticsafety.com

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