An Online Guide to Reducing Work Zone Intrusions
Using Positive Protection

What is Positive Protection?


Illustration of how positive protection prevents longitudinal and lateral work zone crashes.
Positive Protection Barriers provide separation and help prevent longitudinal and lateral crashes into work zones.

Positive Protection are measures “between workers and motorized traffic” which “contain and/or redirect vehicles" and meet applicable crashworthiness criteria . 1, 2

Positive Protection may include highly mobile barrier, movable and temporary steel barrier, movable concrete barrier, traditional concrete barrier, associated cushions, and other strategies to avoid traffic accidents in work zones including full road closure. 3

Mobile and other movable barriers enable field crews to quickly create work spaces that are physically separated from moving traffic and quickly removed from the roadway once the work is completed.

Examples of Positive Protection devices

The rising number of accidents, injuries, and fatalities highlight the need for positive protection. In a 2019 survey, 67% of highway contractors reported crashes into their work zones and 89% think positive protection would improve safety on their projects. 4

New types of Positive Protection Barriers have made work zone safety practical and cost-effective. California research found a cost benefit for highly mobile barrier of $1.9 million per year, per barrier. 14

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Introductory Quote

"We have the technology and 'know how' to build our roadway system to anticipate user error. It can be designed, constructed, equipped, and operated to forgive the errant user and protect the innocent victim."


"We have the technology and 'know how' to build our roadway system to anticipate user error. It can be designed, constructed, equipped, and operated to forgive the errant user and protect the innocent victim."

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"It's as if we were living through a war... When it comes to roadway deaths, we have a crisis that’s urgent, unacceptable - and preventable. "

"Blaming human error alone is convenient, but it places all Americans in greater danger."

"Motorists will inevitably make mistakes. Too often they pay for their mistakes with their lives – or the lives of innocent bystanders.... We have the technology and 'know how' to build our roadway system to anticipate user error. It can be designed, constructed, equipped, and operated to forgive the errant user and protect the innocent victim."


"We have the technology and 'know how' to build our roadway system to anticipate user error. It can be designed, constructed, equipped, and operated to forgive the errant user and protect the innocent victim."

AGC Study - Outcomes of Work Zone Crashes 26
(Mouseover data points for details.)

AGC Study - Percentage of Highway Contractors
Reporting Work Zone Crashes Over Time 26, 25, 4, 5, 6, 7, 19, 18, 17


The 2019 AGC study revealed that an increasing percentage of contractors believe positive protection would improve safety on their projects.

  • 89% of contractors report that increased use of positive protection barriers would help reduce injuries and fatalities on their projects.
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