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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-IP-87-004
Date: February 1987

Speed Control Through Work Zones: Techniques Evaluation and Implementation Guidelines




Traffic accidents in highway work zones are a continuing problem. Unsafe operating speed for existing conditions is a frequently cited driver's error which contributes to work zone accidents involving highway traffic. There is a need for more effective methods for controlling c\vehicle operating speeds through highway work zones.

The information presented in this guide is of interest to traffic engineers in the public and private sectors who are involved in or responsible for planning, designing, and implementing traffic control in highway construction zones on multilane freeways. The guide presents evaluations of four methods for controlling vehicle speeds through work zones on multilane highways where one or more lanes are closed.

The basis for this guide was a field study of vehicle operating speeds through work zones on segments of Interstate highways in Delaware. Copies of the guide are available from the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, Virginia 22161.

Robert J. Betsold
Director, Office of Development
Federal Highway Administration


Speed Control Through Work Zones: Techniques Evaluation and Implementation Guidelines

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1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Speed Control Through Work Zones: Techniques Evaluation and Implementation Guidelines

5. Report Date

February 1987

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

Errol C. Noel, Conrad L. Dudek, Olga J. Pendleton, Hugh W. McGee, Ziad A. Sabra

8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Contractor: Daniel Consultants, Inc. Columbia, Maryland
Subcontractor: Dudek & Assoc., Bryan, Texas
Belmo-McGee, Vienna, Virginia

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

FCP 31ZA318

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Implementation Research, Development and Technology
Federal Highway Administration
Washington, D.C. 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report
Sept. 1985 – Feb. 1987

14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes

FHWA Contract Manager: William L. Williams, P.E., HRT–20
FHWA Contract Administrator: Ann G. Argaman, HCP–42

16. Abstract

This report presents the implementation and evaluation of four techniques for improving the effectiveness of speed zoning in construction areas on multilane freeways. The techniques are (a) the flagging procedure of the Manual On Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), (b) the use of the MUTCD flagging procedure as well as motioning motorists to slow and pointing at a nearby speed limit sign with the free hand of the flagger, (c) a marked police car with cruiser lights and radar active, and (d) a uniformed police officer standing to control traffic. Each of the techniques were applied continuously on six-lane freeways for a period of 10-15 days. The results of the analysis indicate that all four techniques can derive significant reduction in traffic speed through highway construction zones. The flagging methods were effective in construction areas where one lane remained open to traffic. The law enforcement methods demonstrated a stronger speed reduction capability, particularly when the lane closures result in two or more lanes open. The construction projects used for the field data collection required speed reduction from the regulatory 55 m.p.h. to an advisory 45 m.p.h. Although the law enforcement techniques were determined to be effective, their implementation requires a high degree of administratice coordination and cooperation involving police departments, highway officials and construction contractors. A User Guide on speed control in work zones is provided in Appendix B.

17. Key Words

Speed Control, Work Zone Safety, Speed Zoning, Highway Speed

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classification (of this report)


20. Security Classification (of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price


Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized



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