Safety and headway characteristics in highway work zones with automated speed enforcement

M. H. Wang, R. F. Benekohal, H. Ramezani, H. Nassiri, J. C. Medina, A. Hajbabaie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper investigated the headway distribution of platooning vehicles in work zones with and without automated Speed Photo Enforcement (SPE). Data from two work zones were collected and analyzed. The portion of vehicles traveling with a very short headway (less than 0.7 sec) was also examined. In addition, the behavior of vehicles near the law enforcement vehicles was analyzed in terms of applying brakes and changing lane in one of the work zones. The results indicated that the mean headway of cars in the median lane significantly increased in both work zones when the SPE van was present compared to the base condition. For trucks, the mean headway increase was significant only in the shoulder lane when the SPE was present. This is a beneficial effect and indicates that drivers had a longer time to react to the lead vehicles. It was also found that the proportion of cars traveling with a very short headway in the median lane significantly decreased when a SPE van was present at one work zone (I-64). In the shoulder lane, no very short headway was observed when SPE was implemented. The difference in braking behavior was not significant when SPE was compared to police car presence. However, lane changing behavior was significantly different for cars traveling in the median lane and also for trucks traveling in the shoulder lane. The proportion of cars changing lanes was 5 percent with a police car present and increased to 8 percent when the SPE van was present. A significant number of trucks changed lanes from the shoulder to the median when the police car was present to comply with state law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-76
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Transportation Studies
Issue number23
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Automated speed enforcement
  • Drivers' lane changing and braking behavior
  • Headway distribution
  • Very short headway
  • Work zone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Transportation


Dive into the research topics of 'Safety and headway characteristics in highway work zones with automated speed enforcement'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this