Minn. — Fifteen percent of drivers admitted to straddling lanes
in order to block late merges in construction zones, according
to a recent study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
the more than 2,700 crashes and 18 fatalities occurring in highway
construction zones last year, Mn/DOT commissioned a study to better
understand the behaviors and attitudes that trigger driving decisions
in merging situations as drivers enter a work zone.
goal is to increase safety in work zones by reducing the confusion
and frustration drivers often experience when merging," said
William Servatius, Mn/DOT's Office of Construction. "Many
times crashes occur due to aggressive driving, abrupt lane changes
or sudden stops, so we want to help drivers make good choices
while traveling through our work zones."
In an attempt
to minimize the problems discovered in the research, Mn/DOT also
conducted a month-long field study on Highway 10 in Anoka to assess
a new Dynamic Late Merge System, a traffic control strategy to
improve merging at lane closures.
fully automated system using remote traffic microwave sensors
and a Doppler radar provides instructions to drivers via changeable
message signs on when to merge and how to merge according to the
current state of traffic," said Craig Mittelstadt, Mn/DOT's
workzone safety specialist. "For example, if traffic is heavy,
the system will instruct motorists to use both lanes and take
turns once they've reached the defined merge point just before
the lane closure."
often referred to as the "zipper" improves traffic flow,
reduces conflicts and hopefully will decrease the number of crashes
when traffic demand exceeds the capacity of a single lane closure.
we want drivers to know that under normal traffic speeds, they
should try to merge early to avoid unsafe merging maneuvers; however,
when traffic is congested, drivers should use both lanes all the
way to the definite merge point," said Servatius.
completely rid the roads from congestion in a workzone, but data
from the study revealed this method shortened queue lengths by
35 percent and reduced lane changing conflicts," said Mittelstadt.
"We also hope for a decline in crashes and aggressive driving
is one of the first states to use the Dynamic Late Merge System
and plans are to continue this research in the upcoming construction
have been trying for years to research the proper way to merge,
but there are so many factors to consider," said Servatius.
"It's difficult to say what's the 'right' way - instead we're
looking for the best way."
including incident reports, is available by calling 511 or logging
on to www.511mn.org. Know the
Road. Dial up or log on.