DRIVER’ SAFETY ASSESSMENT IN TWO-LANE RURAL ROADS WORK ZONES
Work zones generate several challenges in terms of safety for both workers and drivers. The complex geometry including the presence of temporary signs, channelizing devices, lane changes, lane reduction, and traffic flow modified road configuration, increases the risk of crashes. Previous studies conducted at UPRM regarding the impact of GPS usage in a smartphone while driving in a work zone/Temporary Traffic Control (TTC) in a high-speed divided highway using a driving simulator have concluded that smartphone usage increases distractions that may lead to serious and fatal crashes. The research objective is to investigate if the use of GPS on both geometric and operational situations (two-lane undivided -vs- divided freeways) vary significantly in terms of the potential safety implications associated with serious injuries and fatalities. Specifically, the effects of distractions caused by the audible messages of the active GPS or texting while approaching or entering the advanced warning area of the TTC and the probability of error maneuvers with the STOP/SLOW worker’s paddle will be investigated. Based on the problem stated above, we propose to use the UPRM driving simulator to evaluate driver’s behavior in terms of speed, lateral position and reaction time in a two-lane rural road work zone. Our goal is to compare the results of this study with phase one study which included a closed exit ramp on a high-speed divided freeway.