Characterization of Mobile Work Zone Safety in Missouri

Carlos Sun1, *, Huang Feng1, Yaw Adu-Gyamfi1
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Missouri, E2509 Lafferre Hall, Missouri, Columbia

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© 2020 Sun et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Missouri, E2509 Lafferre Hall, Missouri, Columbia, Tel: (573) 884-6330; E-mail:


Work zones often deviate from normal conditions in terms of geometrics (e.g. lane closure, narrow lanes), striping/markings, signs, and traffic. A Mobile Work Zone (MWZ) is a special category of a work zone where the location of the work zone keeps changing, often rapidly. Despite MWZ safety being of great interest to transportation agencies, they have not studied it formally. This paper presents an examination of MWZs and collisions involving Truck-Mounted Attenuators (TMAs). This examination utilized data fusion of three major databases from Missouri: crash reports, department of transportation claim reports, and MWZ schedules. The fused dataset involved 139 crashes from 2012-2017. The areas of interest included initial impact location, contributing factors, third-party versus employee fault, vehicle type, work zone activity, seasonality, speed limit, time of day, collision lane, and work train configuration. The majority of the crashes were the fault of third parties (>80%) and distraction/inattentiveness was the largest contributory factor (66%). Public outreach and education should emphasize on the difficulty in providing early warnings of MWZs. There is a significant percentage of crashes involving lane changing (39.2%) and even collision of the middle TMA truck (21.8%). Thus, it is important for the public to understand that an entire work train is an integral unit. Higher speed limit dominated MWZ crashes (>75%), even though they only represented 3.6% of the MWZs scheduled. The results of this study on MWZs provide some foundation for other researchers to pursue statistical modeling, assuming that a larger database of MWZ crashes could be developed.

Keywords: Mobile Work Zone, Safety, Crash analysis, Truck-mounted attenuator, Temporary traffic control, Traffic control devices.