Work Zones Cause Crashes—but Only Sometimes

Road construction zones are a headache for drivers and a hazard for workers, but, when it comes to safety, a new study suggests the likelihood of crashes increases when the work zones are long, the roads are busy, and the time is during daylight hours.

The study by a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, which was published in the journal Analytic Methods in Accident Research, provided new insights into a common problem for transportation agencies, said Sean Qian, one of the study’s authors and a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

For years, he explained, transportation officials have observed that crashes increase in road construction zones. That would make sense given the amount of disruption that work zones cause, including new traffic patterns, narrower lanes and the nearby construction activity.