Maine launches traffic monitoring system to protect workers

May 20, 2024

Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) is working to make transportation construction zones safer with a new Smart Work Zone System that uses portable sensors to monitor traffic and provide real-time updates to drivers via digital message boards.

There are more than 500 crashes and two fatalities in construction zones on Maine’s roads each year, state officials said. Most of crashes result from driver error, including insufficient distance between cars, distracted driving and failing to yield.

Maine’s new Smart Work Zone system intends to reduce these kinds of crashes by deploying portable sensors ahead of work zones that monitor the speed and volume of traffic. Drivers will receive real-time messages about traffic conditions collected from the sensors on digital boards, including speed limit adjustments.

“As drivers, it’s easy to become complacent when passing through work zones, but the speed limit reduction is there for a reason: to protect you and the men and women who are working in those zones,” Doug Cropper of the Maine State Police said in a statement. “Drivers have the power to prevent crashes and save lives by driving with caution and courtesy on the road.”

Other cities have deployed similar technology, called Variable Speed Limits (VSL). According to data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), VSLs have decreased freeway crashes, in some instances by over 50%.

The upcoming Memorial Day holiday is an especially busy time of year on Maines roads, with 38 million travelers expected on the Pine Tree State’s roads. The Smart Work Zone system will help drivers adjust to increased congestion in construction work zones.

Photo by kim lam on Unsplash

Gracie Warhurst

Gracie Warhurst has joined Strategic Partnerships, Inc. as a writer and digital content creator for the new Government Market News portal. With a rich background in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, Warhurst has experience as editor-in-chief of a literary magazine, assistant web editor, and project manager for an AI journalism project. She also contributed as a reporter during the development of SPI's news portal. Warhurst graduated summa cum laude in December 2023 with a Bachelor's in Journalism and a certificate in creative writing, making her a valuable asset to the SPI team.

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