Work Zone Safety
Traveling through highway work zones can be frustrating. INDOT respects your time and understands that there is a real expense associated with road construction delays. INDOT works diligently to reduce the effect of construction activities, particularly on interstate highways, where statistics show there is greater risk of injury or death in a work zone crash.
To reduce the risk of work zone crashes for both workers and motorists, INDOT schedules and manages construction activity in accordance with the INDOT Interstate Highways Congestion Policy. INDOT employees and contractors often work nighttime and off-peak hours to ease congestion caused by construction and maintenance work.
INDOT also works hard to provide timely, accurate, and relevant work zone information to travelers using message boards, the INDOT TrafficWise website, the INDOT Real-Time Traffic Conditions website and social and traditional media. To reduce driver confusion, we focus on building and maintaining work zones where travel paths are clear and where driver expectations are known. Our goal is “No Surprises!” To protect our workers, we require high visibility safety apparel and protective equipment on all INDOT projects. We also work with law enforcement to provide extra police patrols in selected highway work zones to improve compliance with work zone regulations and improve worker and motorist safety.
We are dedicated to protecting all workers that build and maintain INDOT roadways. However, it’s important to realize that 4 out of 5 people that die in highway work zones are either drivers or passengers. Accordingly, INDOT’s Work Zone Safety group is also dedicated to protecting motorists who drive through our work zones.
As a reminder, INDOT created a highway work zone awareness video to draw attention to worker safety in highway work zones. A partnership between motorists and highway workers is essential to make sure that everyone makes it home safely.
In 2018, police crash data showed that 14 people were killed and more than 650 were injured in INDOT work zones. The most common causes of collision noted by police include:
- Following too closely.
- Unsafe lane movement.
- Failure to yield right-of-way.
- Ran off roadway.
- Ran over object in roadway.
- Improper lane change.
- Driver inattention.
- Unsafe speed.
These causes resulted in the following common types of collisions: rear-end, same direction sideswipe, head-on between two motor vehicles, and roadway departure.
Work Zone Crash Statistics
- Nationally, four out of five people killed in work zones are drivers and passengers – not highway workers.
- Rear-end crashes are the most common type of work zone crash.
- It takes just one minute more to travel through a two-mile work zone at 45 mph than 65 mph.
- Areas where traffic is entering or leaving work zones are often more dangerous because drivers may be changing lanes and merging.
- Most fatal work zone crashes occur on roads with speed limits greater than 50 mph.
- Fatal work zone crashes occur most often in summer and fall.
Tips for Driving Safely in Work Zones
- Take extra care to pay attention and expect the unexpected. Work Zone configurations can change without notice.
- Don’t text or talk on the phone and avoid taking your hands off the wheel. Distracted driving has become a crisis on all roadways. Driver inattention is a leading cause of all highway crashes.
- Watch for speed limit reductions, narrowing lanes, changing traffic patterns, and – most importantly – highway workers.
- Respect the posted speed limits and safely merge as soon as safely possible as this will allow traffic to flow smoothly. Keep in mind, driving 45 MPH instead of 55 MPH through a 5 mile work zone will only add 1.2 minutes to your trip. Speeding and aggressive driving is a major cause of work zone crashes.
- Keep a safe distance on all sides of your vehicles and maintain a safe following distance. Rear-end collisions are the most common type of work zone crash.
- Respect the flaggers and obey their guidance. Be patient when driving through work sites with flagger control.
- Pay attention to the construction signing. Those signs are carefully selected to give drivers accurate information and important warnings.
- Expect delays and allow extra travel time to travel through work zones.
- Select alternate routes if possible to avoid the work zone completely.
- Be patient and stay calm. Remember that the construction crews are working to make the road better for you!
Work Zone Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Please use caution and common sense when driving through highway work zones.
Indiana's Work Zone Safety Law
The Indiana Work Zone Safety Law sets steep penalties for driving infractions within highway work zones. First time citations for speeding in a work zone result in a $300 fine. The fine increases to $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third offense within three years. Motorists who drive recklessly or aggressively through a work zone face fines up to $5,000. Drivers who injure or kill a highway worker may end up paying a $10,000 fine and serving up to six years behind bars. Fines generated from the work zone law are used to fund additional work zone patrols in an around work zones. The following links are provided for your reference concerning laws affecting work zones in Indiana:
- Indiana Work Zone Safety Law (2011)
- Highway Work Zone Criminal Law (IC 9-21-8-56)
- Highway Work Site Speed Limit Law (IC-9-21-5-11)
Protect the Queue: INDOT's Queue Awareness Program
In 2020, INDOT launched the Protect the Queue program to promote queue awareness. The program pairs two queue trucks ahead of a backup to alert motorists to an upcoming backup so that drivers can begin to slow their speeds in advance of the queue. Learn more about the Protect The Queue Program and watch the INDOT TRAINING VIDEO FOR QUEUE AWARENESS here.
Work Zone Links
- INDOT Guidelines for Portable Changeable Message Signs (PCMS)
- INDOT Highway Work Zone Awareness Video
- INDOT Interstate Highways Congestion Policy
- INDOT Work Zone Safety Mobility Policy
- INDOT Work Zone Safety Card
- INDOT Work Zone Traffic Control Guidelines
- INDOT TrafficWise Website
Transportation Management Plans (TMPs)
Work Zone Safety encourages the thoughtful preparation of Transportation Management Plans (TMPs). TMPs are overall strategies designed to accommodate traffic during road work that minimizes adverse impacts and maximizes safety or and mobility. The Indiana Design Manual (IDM) provides extensive guidance to designers concerning the preparation of TMPs and is the primary INDOT reference for designers.
In 2020, two NHCRP reports were published concerning TMP Strategies. These documents are provided to supplement the guidance in the IDM:
- NCHRP Strategies for Work Zone Transportation Management Plans (2020)
- NCHRP Evaluating Strategies for Work Zone Transportation Management Plans (2020)
- Hands-Free Indiana
- Protect the Queue
INDOT Live Speed Website (Note: Optimized for Chrome or Firefox)
- INDOT Real-Time Traffic Conditions Website
- INDOT Safety Website
- INDOT Traffic Data
- INDOT TrafficWise Website
- Emergency Vehicle Designation
- Law Enforcement Officers for Work Zone Safety
Mischa A. Kachler, P.E.
Work Zone Supervisor
Traffic Management Center
8620 E. 21st Street
Indianapolis, IN 46219