Development of a Connected Smart Vest for Improved Roadside Work Zone Safety

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SAFE-D: Safety Through Disruption National University Transportation Center


Roadside work zones (WZs) present imminent safety threats for roadway workers as well as passing motorists. In 2016, 764 fatalities occurred in WZs in the United States due to motor vehicle traffic crashes. A number of factors (aging highway infrastructure, increased road work, increased levels of traffic and more nighttime WZs) have led to an increase in WZ crashes in the past few years. The standard WZ safety signage and personal protective equipment worn by workers at roadside WZs have not been completely effective in controlling WZ crashes. This project aims to address this issue by designing a wearable device to accurately localize, monitor, and predict potential collisions between WZ actors based on their movements and activities, and communicate potential collisions to workers, passing drivers, and connected and automated vehicles (CAVs). Through this project, a wearable worker localization and communication device (i.e., Smart Vest) was developed that utilizes the previously developed Threat Detection Algorithm to communicate workers’ locations to passing CAVs and proactively warn workers and passing motorists of potential collisions. As a result, this research is expected to significantly improve the safety conditions of roadside WZs through prompt detection and communication of hazardous situations to workers and drivers.



Smart Vest, work zone safety, worker safety, connected vehicles