Crash Characteristics at Work Zones

Report No: 02-R12

Published in 2002

About the report:

Work zones tend to cause hazardous conditions for drivers and construction workers since they generate conflicts between construction activities and traffic. A clear understanding of the characteristics of work zone crashes will enhance the selection of the appropriate measures that can minimize the negative impacts of work zones. This study investigated the characteristics of work zone crashes that occurred in Virginia between 1996 and 1999. The information on each crash was obtained from the police crash record. The location of each crash was categorized as being in one of the five areas of a typical work zone: advance warning area, transition area, longitudinal buffer area, activity area, and termination area. An analysis of the percentage distributions was then carried out with respect to area in work zone, severity, type of collision, and type of highway. The proportionality test was used to determine significant differences at the 5 percent significance level. Selected crash characteristics, such as the proportions of single- and multi-vehicle crashes, were compared for work zone and non-work zone crashes. The results indicated that the activity area was the predominant location for work zone crashes regardless of highway type and that rear-end crashes were the predominant type of crash. The results also indicated that the proportion of sideswipe same direction crashes in the transition area was significantly higher than in the advance warning area and that work zone crashes involved a higher proportion of multi-vehicle crashes and fatal crashes than did non-work zone crashes.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Ming Zhao, Nicholas J. Garber, Ph.D.

Last updated: December 4, 2023

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