Highway Construction Work Zone Safety Performance and Improvement in LouisianaAuthor/Presenter: Schneider, Helmut; Hutchinson, Cory; Pfetzer, Emily
This project provides a review of current work zone crash reporting practices in the US in general and specifically in Louisiana. While national guidelines such as the MMUCC standardize definitions and data elements, the degree to which states have adopted the MMUCC guidelines/data elements regarding work zone crashes varies considerably across states. About 50% of states include 4 or more of the MMUCC’s work zone data elements (C18), while the remaining include 3 or less. Because these elements reflect the “minimum model standard,” it is reasonable to conclude that most states do not collect enough data about work zones on their crash report forms to fully analyze work zone-involvement in crashes. This is clearly the case in Louisiana, in which the primary data indicator of a “work zone crash” is a check box called “Work Zone.” One of the most important findings from this research is that work zone crash reporting practices in Louisiana are inconsistent in several ways. First, according to the crash data analysis, 1910 crashes were identified as having taken place within the actual work zone boundaries, i.e., after the first orange warning sign was posted, while work zone signs were officially in-place; however, officer reporting only captured 104, accounting for only 5.5% of crashes occurring within the physical boundaries of work zones. Second, some crashes that were reported as work zone crashes were actually located outside of the project boundaries. This observation is inconsistent with the instructions stated in the Louisiana crash report guide. Third, a content analysis of the accessible population of crash report narratives (N=2723) indicated that only 3% contained an explicit mention of the work zone in their description, but slow/stop conditions were explicitly contained in 49% of narratives and congestion/backups were explicitly contained in 23%. In addition to assessing the overall data quality of work zone crash reporting in LA, this report provides several recommendations to improve reporting of work zone crashes and work zone related crashes.