Auto-Flaggers Keep Road Crews Safe, Save MnDOT Money

Like a traditional flagger, an Automatic Flagger Assistance Device directs drivers through work zones and other problem areas. But whereas traditional flagging requires workers to stand dangerously close to moving traffic, AFADs can be operated remotely, keeping the flaggers out of harm’s way.

“This is a very risky environment from our employees,” MnDOT Research Services Project Advisor Alan Rindels said. “Any flagger you talk to can recount a time he or she had to jump in a ditch to avoid a vehicle.”

Using a remote control, a single worker can easily operate two AFADs simultaneously, freeing up personnel to perform other tasks and speed up the completion of a road project. MnDOT estimates that the resulting cost savings can cover an AFAD’s purchase costs within two years.

MnDOT recently undertook a pilot implementation of three sets of AFADs, introducing them to maintenance staff and identifying the most appropriate situations for their use. Researchers reviewed past AFAD use in Minnesota, observed traditional flagger and AFAD operations in action, interviewed MnDOT maintenance personnel about their experiences and held two hands-on training sessions that were attended by more than 60 people.

Results showed that drivers obeyed the AFAD instructions and that AFADs work well for stationary construction projects. These successful demonstrations should encourage the wider use of AFADs and enhance worker safety in a cost-effective way.

MnDOT Research Services & Library produced the video above, which details the experiences of a MnDOT road crew who recently started working with AFADs.

(Bonus: Watch MnDOT flagger Joe Elsenpeter talk about jumping into a ditch to avoid being hit.)

*Note: This blog post was adapted from an article in the latest issue of our newsletter, Accelerator. Click here to subscribe.

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