Portable Traffic Lights Make Work Zone Traffic Safer

Posted July 30, 2007 10:36 p.m. EDT

A dump truck assembly line is hauling tons of dirt across busy Camelot Drive. But there are no flagmen, and traffic and trucks are getting along quite well.

The reason: a set of portable traffic lights.

C.C. Mangum's Larry Whitehurst came up with the idea.

The portable lights are solar powered.

Instead of three flagmen, and those hard-to-read stop-and-go signs, there is one light operator who watches the traffic pattern and changes the lights accordingly, standing behind a fence, not like a flagman standing in traffic.

“He is the most vulnerable person in the work zone,” Whitehurst said. “He can be hit by a car. And this happened in another county, and the flagman was killed.”

On June 13, in Granville County, a hit-and-run driver struck and killed Richard Williamson as he tried to direct traffic.

Protecting workers is one important aspect of the lights. Protecting drivers is another.

One of the biggest things crews say they are noticing is driver reaction – most positive.

“I think it works,” one driver said. “You don't have to worry about people with flags and the signs, so it works.”

The contractor plans to use the portable light system next on the Davis Drive Widening project in Research Triangle Park.