SAQ: Why are concrete traffic barriers used in work zones?

Safety for drivers, crews are key factors

SAN ANTONIO – While it’s nice to live in the mild South Texas climate during the winter, that climate also means road construction never really takes a break. So construction barriers, including those with concrete, have become a part of the driving landscape. For some drivers, they can be a source of anxiety.

“Why does TxDOT (or road contractors) have to put concrete barriers on the outside traffic lane(s),” asked Pat. “This creates more car damage/ anxiety while driving along those major roads.”

But experts say even concrete barriers can serve as effective safety devices.

Over the years, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute has partnered with the Texas Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to look for ways to make those barriers even safer. They try to balance driver visibility with ensuring protection for drivers and construction crews during crashes.

“Several types of barriers may be used depending on traffic volume and speed limits,” said Jennifer Serold, a spokesperson for TxDOT’s San Antonio District. “TxDOT encourages drivers to make driving safely a priority when passing through active road construction and maintenance work zones.”

Strategies include slowing down, not tailgating and staying alert and minimizing distractions in work zones.

In 2019, more than 26,000 crashes occurred in work zones in Texas, resulting in 167 fatalities and 690 serious injuries.

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