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Optimizing Performance Mobility & Safety—Making Work Zones Work Better:
Work Zone Intrusion Reporting Research Synthesis

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U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Operations
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590


Fall 2017

The Minnesota Department of Transportation initiated an independent study to learn more about best practices for reporting and documenting vehicle intrusions into the work space of a work zone, including "near misses" that do not result in crashes. The purpose of the study was to determine what data other States collect about vehicle intrusions and what technologies are used in gathering and reporting the data.

This photo shows a work zone set up in the perilous location of a highway on- and off-ramp, with a queue of cars passing very close to the work zone.

Source: CTC & Associates

To support this effort, a survey of State Departments of Transportation (DOT) was conducted to learn their practices for work zone intrusion data collection. This survey was supplemented by follow-up interviews with survey respondents and a literature review that gathered information about work zone data collection practices.

Survey Approach

An email survey was sent to the members of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Subcommittee on Construction to gather information on States' procedures for work zone intrusion data collection. The survey consisted of the following questions:

  • What is your procedure for collecting information about work zone intrusions?
  • What technology or technologies do you use for reporting work zone intrusion data (such as paper forms, GoPro or other video cameras, tablet computer-based forms, automatic sensors, or other technologies)?
  • What specific data do you collect about work zone intrusions, such as location, time of day, vehicle description, etc.?

Of the 19 respondents, only three States were found to collect work zone intrusion data: Iowa, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. All three collect this data via forms; Pennsylvania and Iowa use electronic fillable PDF forms, while North Dakota uses a paper form.


All three States collect incident data including description, location, date and time. At least one state additionally included the number of vehicles involved, incident diagrams, whether the site has an incident history, resulting corrective actions and weather conditions.

This table shows the type of work zone incident data collected by three States: Iowa, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. Iowa collects the following data: incident description, incident location, date and time, number of vehicles, incident diagram, site accident history, resulting and resulting actions. North Dakota collects the following data: incident description, incident location, date and time, resulting actions, and weather conditions. Pennsylvania collects the following data: incident description, incident location, and date and time.

Source: Minnesota Department of Transportation

Data Collection Challenges

Interviewees included representatives of all three States (Iowa, North Dakota and Pennsylvania). In these follow-up interviews, all three said that data collection for work zone intrusions is less formalized and less thorough than data collection for work zone incidents that lead to injuries, fatalities or property damage. For example, in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania DOT Workers' Compensation Coordinator said, "I know that foremen will take down license numbers if they can get them and report them to the local authorities for investigation, but I don't know that we're getting forms for every single intrusion."

Data Collection Technologies

Both Iowa and Pennsylvania DOTs reported that work zone intrusion data is collected electronically through fillable PDF forms, although Iowa DOT also permits paper reports. In Iowa, the respondent said that currently about 75 percent of State work zone data reporting is done electronically. The State began using iPads in work zones a few years ago and is hoping to have all offices using them by 2016. North Dakota DOT receives near-miss reports on paper or verbally, although when there is an injury or property damage, the reports are filed electronically.

Sample Iowa DOT Incident Report Form

This image shows a sample Iowa Department of Transportation incident report form. The form asks users to select an incident type (for example, rear-end conflict, traffic backups, slow vehicle conflicts, etc.) and to give information on the data, time, location, number of vehicles involved, and whether similar incidents have occurred in the same location. The form also provides room to give addition descriptions of the incident, including room for drawing a diagram of the incident.

Source: Iowa DOT

Oregon DOT's Traffic Control Plans Engineer said that the State is planning to implement smart work zone technologies in the near future. While he was unsure whether the State's plans include using those technologies to document work zone intrusions, he said that remotely-operated pan-tilt-zoom cameras could feasibly do so. These cameras are capable of capturing high-definition pictures and videos at a range of frequencies (from 1 frame per minute to more than 30 frames per second). The images can be date-, time- and location-stamped, and can be transmitted via cellular or satellite networks to agency personnel for review and evaluation.

To learn more, contact:

Jenny Hoskins, P.E.
Iowa DOT
(515) 386-8166

Todd Haglin
Emergency Management and Safety Manager
Minnesota DOT
(651) 366-3079

Doug Schumaker
Traffic Safety Design
North Dakota DOT
(701) 328-1210

Matthew Briggs
Traffic Control Specialist Manager
Pennsylvania DOT
(717) 783-6268

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