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Stop-go: controlling the dangers at roadworks

23 January, 2014

How fast should you drive through a roadwork zone?

Have your say as part of a new Queenland University of Technology (QUT) study looking at driver behaviour and experience around roadwork sites.

Dr Ross Blackman, from QUT's Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q), said roadworks were often a cause of frustration to drivers and posed a significant danger to motorists and road workers.

"This study is about pinpointing driver reactions to work zone hazards," Dr Blackman said.

"We suspect the environment at roadwork sites has an influence on how people drive through these areas.

"For example we want to know whether lower speed limits, roadwork equipment or delays impact the way drivers navigate roadwork sites."

Dr Blackman said understanding the driver experience at roadwork sites was vital to providing a safe working environment for employees.

"Roadwork sites are a dangerous place due to the presence of many hazards including heavy machinery, adverse environmental conditions and moving vehicles of all shapes and sizes," he said.

"Ideally roadwork sites should be as safe as any other road environment but we know this is not the case.

"Roadwork sites have high crash rates and there have been numerous fatalities at roadwork sites in Queensland and these have involved workers and public road users."

Dr Blackman said as a result of widespread flooding across the state, extensive roadwork projects were being carried out on Queensland roads.

"Roadworks are a fact of life, particularly in a state like Queensland where a large road network is required to service a relatively small population and extreme weather events are relatively frequent," Dr Blackman said.

"Road users benefit in the long term from better and more sustainable roads, while in the short term the necessary work may cause inconvenience and frustration."

To take part in the study, visit the Driver Experience of Roadworks Survey until 31 January 2014. The survey is open to Queensland drivers who have driven at least weekly over the past 12 months and have not worked on roadwork sites.

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Hayrick | Friday, January 24, 2014, 11:51 AM
The current 40km limit is dangerous, especially on 100 to 110km highways. The work area should be structured so that 80km is adopted except where a diversion or stopping traffic is unavoidable. The madness of imposing limits -often including 40km, when no work is in progress is an invitation to non compliance and may cause accidents due to inattention at low speeds and no peripheral stimulation. South of Sydney I have experienced 80km limits on a 4 lane highway with nothing happening except for barriers on the verge of the outside lane, previously these roads were 100km with only two lanes.! On a related matter the common poor design of side road access to motorways is damning to our road engineers (or how penny pinching causes accidents) - speeds should be reduced in these areas of merging traffic where the side road traffic is prevented from reaching motorway speeds by the design.
archibald | Friday, January 24, 2014, 12:48 PM
The "Fixer of Roads" needs our consideration and thanks. (A stitch in time saves nine. The pothole fixed saves the road). BUT . .Mmmmm queensland doesn't want any outside advice eh! The way I see it any good advice is worth listening to from where ever. The frustrating things about roadworks is where speed limit areas are too far extended one or each side of the actual danger point and where the speed limit is disproportionatly low compared to the danger level. No lack of manpower (or man presence) ; when the signs are needing shifting as the day progresses for goodness sake move them. When the signs indicate to travel at 40kph in a normal 110kph zone for 2 or 3 km where there is one loader and truck working over that length during the day then that undermines the goodwill I know I should show to the 'fixer of roads'. Often this problem originates with the works manager/ foreman. Just keep the zones realistic.
Ross Blackman | Thursday, January 30, 2014, 1:37 PM
Archibald, while the overall research considers information potentially valuable regardless of where it is from, there are good reasons for limiting the survey to Queensland drivers. First among these is that management, regulation and specifications for roadwork sites vary by state/territory. Any scientific study needs to be tightly controlled, and it is beyond the scope of this project to control for differences between states. Generally though, your comments reflect a common view about some of the issues that drivers would like to see addressed. There are many who will agree with you!