Cost of Highway Work Zone InjuriesAuthor/Presenter: Mohan, Satish B.; Gautam, Padma
Two types of accidents occur in highway work zones: those that involve construction workers, which account for 30% of the accidents; and those that involve motorists outside the construction area, which account for 70% of the accidents. Construction/maintenance workers suffer approximately 27,000 first-aid injuries and 26,000 lost-time injuries per year at a total annual cost of $2.46 billion, and motorists suffer aproximately 700 fatalities, 40,000 injuries, and 52,000 property-damage-only accidents, at a total cost of $6.2 billion per year. Highway work zone fatalities per billion dollars spent cost at least four times more than in total U.S. construction. This paper presents brief details of the various injury types and their cost estimates. While the highway traffic fatality rate has been declining by approximately 3.3 per year since 1960, and construction fatalities have been decreasing by approximately 6% per year since 1970, work zone fatalities have stayed constant at around 700 deaths per year. Using available databases, it was found that (1) the average direct cost of a motorist’s injury is estimated at $3,687; and (2) an overturned vehicle has the largest average cost of $12,627, followed by a rear-end collision averaging $5,541. Analysis of the causes of these traffic accidents showed that driver error was the most expensive precrash activity, with an average cost of $7,676, and rear-end collisions are the most common (31%) vehicle crashes, followed by “hit-small-object” collisions at 11% of the total motor vehicle crashes.