Illinois Institute of Technology to take on highway safety

News Illinois Institute of Technology October 25, 2006
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Improving safety for construction workers and drivers at construction work zones is the focus of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and Dr. Jonathan Shi's four-year research initiative.

Shi, associate professor of civil and architectural engineering at IIT, was awarded a grant from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Illinois Department of Transportation and the State of Utah Local Technical Assistance Program Center. The $1.03 million will be used to update national highway work-zone safety audit guidelines, establish a training program for implementing the new audit guidelines and promote best practices for preventing work-zone injuries and fatalities.

"The trends of growing traffic, increased roadwork and public frustration with work zones have contributed to the growing work-zone safety concerns. Traffic delays and vehicle crashes in work zones have resulted in significant economic consequences affecting the construction, trucking and insurance industries," said Shi. "Work-zone fatalities increased by nearly 50% between 1997 and 2004. In 2004 alone, there were approximately 115,000 work-zone crashes and approximately 49,620 people injured in work-zone crashes."

With the FHWA award as its foundation, IIT is leading the initiative to create a consortium--to include transportation agencies; construction, trucking and insurance companies; and universities--dedicated to providing comprehensive long-term solutions to work-zone safety. The Center for Work-Zone Safety will be the first of its kind in the country.

"Much of the nation's highway system is more than 30 years old," Shi said. One third of the roads in urban areas are traveled under congested conditions. Our research and initiatives will identify, discover and advocate new technologies, best practices and innovative products for improving work-zone safety. We aim to find comprehensive long-term solutions for work-zone safety."

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