Contact: Media Relations
Phone: (512) 463-8700
Date: June 11, 2013
Three new devices to become increasingly familiar along state roadways in an effort to save lives
AUSTIN - With safety being the top priority at the Texas Department of Transportation, the agency is raising awareness of 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 (video of these tools are available).
“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.”
With roadway construction underway all across the Lone Star State, work-zone safety is an ongoing and growing concern, especially for human flaggers who often work within inches or feet of moving vehicles. In an effort to remove human flaggers from dangerous roadside positions, TxDOT is introducing new AFADs, which are able to route traffic using various visual cues via remote control. Readily mobile and easily assembled, most units are trailer-mounted, while others can be relocated by hand. 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 new, 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. Adopted in 2009 by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as the national standard for permissive left-turn signals, the flashing-yellow, left-turn arrows are now being used by TxDOT and local jurisdictions based on successful operation in other locations across the nation.
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.
For media inquiries, contact TxDOT Media Relations at MediaRelations@txdot.gov or (512) 463-8700.