Moving Barrier Protects Work CrewsAbstract:
Highway maintenance crews often have little protection from passing traffic. If the work zone will be operational for only a short duration, it is impractical to install concrete barriers or other safety measures.
In these situations, highway agencies often send out a shadow vehicle, which is a truck that follows the work crew at a distance, serving as a moving barrier between the workers and the oncoming traffic. But while the truck protects the workers on the road, the truck’s driver is put at risk of serious injury if a vehicle should hit the truck.
In 1986, a semitrailer driver fell asleep and slammed into a Minnesota Department of Transportation (DOT) shadow vehicle. The shadow vehicle’s 21-year-old driver was left paralyzed, says Glenn Berkman, heavy equipment shop supervisor for Minnesota DOT. Soon afterwards, the driver of a shadow vehicle in Alabama was killed. In 1991, 25 Minnesota DOT highway maintenance vehicles were rear-ended. The Minnesota DOT maintenance division began considering ways to improve safety for its workers.