Trooper Mike Daniels investigates a work zone crash.
Roadway construction has become a common fixture in our daily travels. More than 1,000 people are killed in work zones annually in the U.S. Increasingly, organizations and agencies concerned with public safety are searching for characteristics that contribute to the dangers of work zones. Like many aspects of traffic safety, a better understanding of the contributing factors in crashes can potentially lead to improved countermeasures. Examining crash data is a principal method by which engineers, police, and safety advocates attempt to determine those factors. However, such data are often incomplete. The Florida Highway Patrol and Troop G, in particular, recently partnered with the University of Florida to enrich the data set for Florida work zone incidents by developing a supplemental data collection system. Dr. Scott Washburn and Major Grady Carrick used qualitative research to identify supplemental data elements specific to work zone incidents. When troopers in Troop G complete crash investigations in work zones, they use their Mobile Data Terminal (MDTs) to access a special website created with the help of Major Steve Williams. By answering a few questions about the work zone, a more complete understanding of the construction area crash is possible. This data will hopefully lead to improvements in safety analysis capabilities and work zone safety countermeasures in Florida. In just three months, the troopers in the demonstration project have compiled valuable data on nearly 100 work zone crashes.