Construction signs warn drivers of a flagger ahead.

AFADs: The Future of the Work Zone

We don’t need to jump into a DeLorean and travel through time to see what the future of work zone safety holds. For traffic flaggers, safety can be improved by devices that are a bit more reliable than a sports car turned time machine. A better future for flaggers involves automated flagger assistance devices (AFADs).

How are automated flaggers transforming the work zone? 

Keep reading to learn about the benefits of these devices. 

1. AFADs Are Easy to See & Understand

Automated flaggers are easier for drivers to see from a distance. They are larger than human flaggers and often have other visible markers, like lights or a moving gate arm. 

Drivers are more likely to spot an AFAD sooner than a human flagger. Since AFADs are more visible, they may affect driver reaction time and work zone traffic safety. 

The Missouri Department of Transportation found that drivers stopped 44.46 ft farther away when approaching an AFAD in comparison to approaching a human flagger. Drivers also began to brake 58.17 ft earlier when faced with an AFAD. Researchers from the Texas Transportation Institute observed that drivers stopped even farther from an AFAD if it had a gate arm.

In the same Texas study, 93% of participants understood the red/yellow AFADs tested. The majority of participants believed the AFAD to be better than a human flagger. 

2. AFADs Have Built-in Intrusion Alarms

Intrusion alarms help reduce the number of work zone injuries and fatalities. Traditionally, road workers place automatic intrusion alarms on barricades, drums, or cones. If hit, these alarms will sound. Flaggers and spotters may sound manual horns or alarms if they see a car err into the work zone. 

AFADs give you more peace of mind, as many models have built-in intrusion alarms. You can set them to go off automatically when cars cross a pneumatic hose bordering the work zone or hit the AFAD itself. Flaggers can also alert workers of an intrusion with the push of a button.

When activated, an AFAD’s alarm will sound, and the AFAD may begin flashing. What the alarm does will depend on the model of AFAD. 

Automated flaggers can provide advanced warning to workers further down the work zone. While they direct traffic, AFADs also serve as your first line of defense against intrusions.  

3. AFADs Keep Flaggers Safe

Road maintenance workers repair and preserve our highways and city streets—often as traffic zooms closely by. Flaggers stand on the side of the road, ready to direct drivers safely through the work zone. Unfortunately, this means that flaggers are likely to be injured by approaching vehicles. 

In a survey by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, road maintenance workers stated that distracted driving and cell phone use were significant risks to flaggers. All of an AFAD’s features link back to its most important benefit: improved flagger safety. 

Gone are the days of flagging on the shoulder of the road. With AFADs, flaggers can direct traffic from a safe distance away. Since AFADs are operated via remote control, flaggers can work within an area near the AFAD instead of right next to passing traffic. 

These devices let flaggers focus on their jobs without added worry. 

It’s time to change the work zone. Are you ready? 

Contact IntelliStrobe today, and join us in our quest to make work zones safer. We can help you implement AFADs in your next road construction project—no time machine required.

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