As the summer construction season gets underway, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has implemented a trio of new safety tools to protect both motorists and highway workers.
Automated Flagger Assistance Devices (AFADs) will feature prominently in work zones across the state, according to the department. AFADs allow remote rerouting of traffic based on visual cues; this eliminates the need for a human flagger mere inches from a steady stream of moving vehicles. The devices are trailer-mounted for easy transportation and feature 7-ft-tall stop/slow signs, red and yellow lights, moveable arms and reflective materials.
TxDOT is also deploying temporary rumble strips in and around work zones. The strips are set in 5-foot intervals as vehicles approach a work zone, alerting them to its presence.
Outside of work zones, motorists will see flashing yellow-arrow, left-turn signals replacing the well-known circular green signals. A flashing yellow arrow indicates that vehicles are able to make a left-hand turn but must yield to oncoming traffic; this is opposed to a green arrow, which permits drivers to make a protected left-hand turn.
TxDOT reported that 2012 work-zone crashes resulted in 132 fatalities. There have already been 5,676 work-zone crashes in 2013, with 28 fatalities.