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An Educational Module to Increase Engineering Students' Knowledge of Work Zone Safety in Highway Construction

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Construction Engineering Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Construction Engineering

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Didier M. Valdes University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

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Dr. Didier Valdes is a professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. With more than 30 years of experience in engineering education, research, and administration, Dr. Valdes brings the combination of professional and practical experience to all his endeavors.

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Carla Lopez Del Puerto University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Orcid 16x16

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Carla López del Puerto, Ph.D. is a Professor of Construction Engineering and Management in the Department of Civil Engineering at The University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez Campus.

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Alberto M. Figueroa-Medina University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez

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Professor of Transportation Engineering from the Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. Academic preparation includes a BS in Civil Engineering and an MS in Civil Engineering from UPRM, and a Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering from Purdue University. Research interests include the evaluation of transit quality of service, effects of road geometric design, and road safety analysis. Has served as Member of two national research committees of the Transportation Research Board (TRB): Operational Effects of Geometrics (AHB65) and Safety Data, Analysis and Evaluation (ANB20). Former President and General Manager of the Metropolitan Bus Authority (MBA) and Former Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Integrated Transit Authority (PRITA).

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Benjamin Colucci University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

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Rocío Juliana Sotomayor-Irizarry University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

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Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of fatalities of road users and construction workers in highway work zones. Temporary Traffic Control (TTC) plans are designed for the safe and effective movement of users along the road while allowing contractors to perform construction activities. The TTC plan must protect all road users, emergency and traffic incident responders, and construction workers and equipment, and must reduce the risks of having drivers traversing along the unfamiliar road or traffic conditions imposed by the work zone. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD), applicable to all streets and highways in the United States, provides standards and guidelines for the design of TTC applications based on factors such as highway type, traffic speed, vehicle mix and type, and location and duration of the work activity. An engineer must combine knowledge about road design, traffic operations, construction activities, and human factors to analyze the conditions and risks imposed by the work zone, anticipate potentially hazardous situations and select appropriate strategies and devices for the TTC plan. Furthermore, future engineers should consider the application of innovative solutions, such as those promoted by the Every Day Counts (EDC) program of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to improve safety for all users and workers in work zones. This paper presents the results of an online survey that assessed knowledge of the general population about highway work zones and TTC plans and the results of the development of an Interactive Learning Module (ILM) administered among second-year engineering students to increase their understanding of construction work zones and TTC plans. The survey results indicate that 65% of the respondents were not able to correctly identify the beginning of a highway work zone. Up to 45% of the survey respondents did not properly identify when to change lanes when encountering a closed lane. This lack of understanding of when to react to the altered road conditions in a work zone could expose construction workers to an increased risk of injuries and fatalities because of drivers not adjusting their normal behavior when approaching the work zone. An online training module about work zone safety and the design of TTC zones called WZILM was developed and administered to second-year engineering students that have not received formal road design training. WZILM included a pre-test, a mid-intervention assessment, and a post-test. WZILM was effective in increasing awareness and knowledge among engineering students on how to correctly implement TTC plans with the goal of reducing the risk of injuries and fatalities in work zones, thus improving overall safety for drivers and workers.

Valdes, D. M., & Lopez Del Puerto, C., & Figueroa-Medina, A. M., & Colucci, B., & Sotomayor-Irizarry, R. J. (2020, June), An Educational Module to Increase Engineering Students' Knowledge of Work Zone Safety in Highway Construction Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34110

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