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2013-06-27

TxDOT introducing three new safety devices

TxDOT

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is currently introducing three new tools designed to help reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries on Texas roadways. The safety tools - Automated Flagger Assistance Devices (AFADs), temporary rumble strips and flashing-yellow, left-turn arrows - are now being used in Texas and will see expanded service throughout the state in the coming months.

"Safety is best approached using multiple strategies to increase the chances of success," said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. "There is no amount of over-preparedness when it comes to saving lives. It is our hope that motorists become familiar with these new tools and heed their warnings for their own safety and the safety of others on the road."

Human flaggers often work within inches or feet of moving vehicles in construction zones. In an effort to remove human flaggers from dangerous roadside positions, TxDOT's new AFADs are able to route traffic using various visual cues via remote control. The AFADs typically employ a combination of seven-foot-tall Stop/Slow signs, red and yellow lights, movable arms and reflective materials.

Further enhancing work-zone safety are temporary rumble strips designed to alert and re-focus distracted or drowsy drivers about the possibility of upcoming traffic congestion. They are less than an inch high and look similar to miniature speed-bumps. These black, rubbery strips are placed five feet apart leading up to roadway work zones. When motorists drive over them, they sound an audible warning vibration in advance of traffic queues, reminding drivers to slow down and watch for slowing or stopped traffic. These rumble strips are designed for motorists to drive over and will not damage vehicles.

Outside of work zones, flashing yellow-arrow, left-turn signals are gradually being phased in to replace the traditional circular green signals. A flashing yellow arrow is used to indicate traffic is permitted to turn left but must yield to oncoming traffic. This differs from a green arrow signal which means traffic turning left is protected and has the right of way.

Last year in Texas, 3,400 fatalities resulted from traffic crashes. In work zones, nearly 17,000 statewide crashes resulted in 132 fatalities and many more injuries in 2012. To date this year, there have been 5,676 work-zone crashes resulting in 28 fatalities. The introduction of TxDOT's new safety tools is aimed at saving lives and lowering these crash statistics.


Pictured: Flashing yellow, left turn arrow lights are one of three new devices being introduced by TxDOT to improve traffic safety.