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Washington State Department of Transportation. Maintenance Traffic Control Operations Training (MTCOT). Forward Traffic Control Operations Safe/Efficient/Professional.

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Maintenance traffic control operations training mtcot

Washington State Department of Transportation

Maintenance Traffic Control Operations Training (MTCOT)

Forward traffic control operations safe efficient professional

ForwardTraffic Control OperationsSafe/Efficient/Professional

The risks you face working in or next to a roadway are serious but manageable, if a plan is prepared and employed appropriately. We are striving for consistency in how we apply traffic control measures so the driver is reasonably assured of what to expect and how to respond. For the worker we want a work zone that provides first for your safety and for sufficient area to accomplish the intended task, in an efficient and professional manner.

Forward traffic control operations safe professional
ForwardTraffic Control OperationsSafe//Professional

This training session is to reinforce your skills and ability in this topic. This is sure to enhance the public opinion of our work and to result in a favorable reaction to employees and our job duties. If we are not diligent, place a sign with the wrong message, leave it exposed after the work is done, have signs with missing or burnt out lights, or have a flagger who is not attentive to the driver, we allow for a poor impression and establish the basis for negative opinion.

Forward traffic control operations safe efficient professional1
ForwardTraffic Control OperationsSafe/Efficient/Professional

It is important that each of us be aware at times of both the safety risks and public impressions that occur from the work we do. Being safe is an important part of being professional in our work. Being courteous and thoughtful to those using the roadway is an added part to being recognized as a professional. We respect you as being technically qualified to perform the work you’re assigned. The information in this training is to reinforce safety for you and the driver and to add another measure of professionalism to what you do.

Section 1 introduction course objectives

Introduction, Scope, and Objectives

This course discusses the process for installing, maintaining, and evaluating proper traffic controls for temporary work zones

The principles presented in the course apply to the following:

  • All roads open to public travel – including streets, roads, highways, and limited access facilities – regardless of jurisdiction.

  • Temporary traffic control zones in urban and rural areas.

  • Work activities of various duration and complexity.

  • Maintenance, utility work, and operations associated with emergency and incident management.

  • Objectives

  • This course is designed to train personnel in those principles and practices of traffic control, which will enable them to provide the safest and most efficient operation of temporary traffic control in work zones.

  • Specific objectives sought in various parts of the course include:

  • Gain an understanding of each step involved in providing temporary traffic control

  • Identify and apply workable concepts and techniques during the installation, maintenance, and evaluation of controls for maintenance situations.

  • Adhere to appropriate design principles and standards for temporary traffic control.

Section 2 fundamental principles

  • _______motorists and pedestrians of hazards;

  • _________ motorists and pedestrians of the proper travel path through the area

  • Delineate the path traffic should follow; and

  • Separate and protect motorists, pedestrians, and ________




The Fundamental Principles of Traffic ControlBecause it is not possible to define every work site and condition, the fundamental principles provide a guiding philosophy for providing good temporary traffic control

  • Make traffic _________an integral and high priority element of every project

  • Avoid inhibiting traffic as much as possible.

  • Guide motorists and pedestrians in a ______ and _______ manner

  • Perform routine inspection of traffic control elements.

  • Throughout the project, give attention to roadside________

  • __________ should only be used when other methods are inadequate to properly control traffic.






Section 3 Human FactorsExpectancyBased on their experience with similar situations in the past, people expect certain things to appear and to operate in certain ways. A common example is the location of the on-off light switch near the entrance to a dark room. Over a period of time, these expectancies develop into a workable set of expectations, which allow people to anticipate and plan a course of action

Expectancies affect the perception of, and reaction to information such that:

  • When expectancies are met and reinforced, performance tends to be __________

  • When expectancies are violated, motorists need more time to respond, their performance may be poorer, and they may commit errors or even ____________

Error free

Fail to respond

Section 3 human factors
Section 3 Human Factors

Once a driver has perceived a hazard, he/she must decide on an action and respond accordingly. Motorists need more time to decide on the appropriate action when:

  • The situation is unfamiliar,

  • Several responses are possible,

  • The maneuver required is complex, or

  • The driver is impaired in some manner, such as fatigue, drowsy, on medication, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Section 3 human factors1
Section 3 Human Factors

When a situation is very complex, the driver may not be able to determine alternatives, and may feel that each choice is equally attractive. In these complex situations the driver may temporarily freeze and be unable to make any speed or path choice at all. Studies of drivers approaching arrow displays operating in the double arrow mode have shown that many motorists change lanes at the last moment because of the difficulty in selecting between the two alternatives presented to them by the double arrow.

Section 3 human factors2
Section 3 Human Factors

Common examples of temporary traffic control zone situations which violate driver expectancy include road and lane closures, median crossovers, detour pavement markings, reduced speed limits, slow moving traffic, workers and equipment in or near the travel lanes.

Key characteristics of effective traffic controls are:

  • Similar ____________________________

  • Similar ____________________________

  • Similar ____________________________




Section 3 positive guidance
Section 3 Positive Guidance

Fundamental to Positive Guidance as providing information to the driver at a point where he/she has sufficient time to react:

DECISION SIGHT DISTANCE: “The distance at which a driver can detect a hazard in an environment of visual noise or clutter, recognize it (or its threat potential), select appropriate speed and path, and perform the required action safely and efficiently.

Section 3 positive guidance1
Section 3Positive Guidance

For temporary work zones to operate safely, the traffic control plan must be designed to provide adequate decision sight distance for drivers traveling through the control zone.

All persons responsible for traffic control must minimize the difficulty of driving through a temporary traffic control zone by:

  • _______________ the numbers of features which can cause drivers errors.


  • Ensuring that motorists are adequately ________ of features that cannot be eliminated, and


  • Protecting ___________ from hazards


Credibilitycredibility means the message conveyed by the traffic control device, must be accurate and relevant to the situation

To increase the credibility of information adhere to the following:

  • Turn or ___________ signs that are not applicable.

  • Don’t post unnecessarily restrictive speed limits.

  • Don’t inform the motorist to expect a _______ that is not there.

  • Avoid unexpected situations because surprised drivers may

    ________ in unexpected ways.

  • Maintain controls as if every driver were approaching the temporary traffic control zone for the first time




Feedback from Road UsersIt is important to recognize and act upon feedback from the motorist and circumstances occurring in the roadway itself. This lets us know the highway user is uncomfortable with the setup of the temporary traffic control zone and conditions that may exist which could lead to accidents. This feedback comes in many forms with the most common being:

  • Brake applications indicating traffic conflicts.

  • _______ ______ on the pavement and on temporary barriers.

  • Frequently displaced channelizing ___________

  • Letters to the highway agency from motorists and other users.

  • Horn blowing, often accompanied by ___________

  • Verbal abuse of highway workers by motorists.

Tire Marks



Section 4 traffic control devices and standards

Traffic control devices are often the only means to communicate with the road user.

Traffic control devices include:

  • Signs

  • Signals

  • Lightning units

  • Pavement markings

  • Delineators

  • Channelizing units

  • Portable barriers

  • Impact attenuators

  • Rumble strips

  • Screens.

Section 4 traffic control devices and standards1
SECTION 4Traffic Control Devices and Standards

The MUTCD (Section 1A-5) uses 3 terms to differentiate between requirements and recommendations:

  • Shall: always means a ____________ requirement.

  • Should: is used to denote an _________ application.

  • When deviating here, discuss with the Traffic Office.

  • May: indicates a __________ condition.




Requirements of traffic control devices mutcd section 1a 2
Requirements of Traffic Control Devices(MUTCD Section 1A-2)

To be effective, all traffic control devices should meet the following 5 basic requirements:

  • Fulfill a _________

  • Command attention

  • Convey a clear, simple meaning.

  • Command ______________ of road users.

  • Give adequate ___________ for proper response

    The flagger also serves to fulfill the 5 functions




  • Signs and Channelizing Devices

  • Signs advise, warn, and instruct the motorist on how to drive through the work site.

  • Channelizing devices guide the motorist through the site, indicate hazardous areas, and exclude traffic from the actual workspace.

  • Choosing Signs

  • Standard signs and messages, as shown in the MUTCD and M54-44 should be used.

  • The overall effect of the signs is to make the driver aware of what he or she is approaching and what action is required.

Positioning of signs
Positioning of Signs

Signs should be positioned using the following principles

  • Locate signs where they are easily ____________

  • Place signs so drivers have time to _________

  • Position signs at least ____________ above roadways



1 Foot

CHANNELIZING DEVICESChannelizing devices include cones, drums, barricades, and barriers.Channelizing devices are discussed in Section 6F-5 of the MUTCD

Channelizing devices are placed in or adjacent to the roadway to guide traffic. They serve the following purposes:

  • As a taper to ____________ traffic from one lane to another.

  • To reduce the width of the traveled way.

  • To delineate and ____________________ the driver to and along a safe path.

  • To separate traffic from the work space, pavement drop-offs, pedestrian paths, or opposing directions of traffic, and

  • To mark or provide __________________ of hazards





  • Minimum height is ______________ for daytime operations on low-speed roadway operations only.

  • ____________________ shall be the minimum height of cones for freeways and other high-speed roadways and for all roads during hours of darkness or whenever more conspicuous guidance is needed. Taller cones may be used to improve visibility

    For nighttime use, cones and tubular markers shall be retroreflectorized.

18 Inches

28 Inches

Portable changeable message signs and arrow displays


Portable Changeable Message Signs (PCMS) are traffic control devices with the flexibility to display various messages to fit the needs of the work area. They are used most frequently on high-volume, urban freeways, but can also have applications on all types of highways where highway alignment, traffic routing problems or other pertinent conditions require advance warning and information.

Refer to M54-44, page 7

Portable changeable message signs
Portable Changeable Message Signs

  • Place in advance of other temporary traffic control zone signing.

  • Does not replace required signs.

  • Visible for _________________

  • Legible for at least ________________ (all lanes)

  • Able to be read _____________ at the posted speed

  • Each individual display should convey a ______ _______

½ Mile

650 Feet


Single Thought

Recognizing a work zone continued

Variable Message Signs (VMS)

Recognizing a Work Zone (continued)

Portable changeable message signs1
Portable Changeable Message Signs

  • __________ per message cycle

  • Bottom of sign panel shall be a minimum of 7 feet above


  • PCMS shall automatically adjust its light source

  • Messages shall not scroll horizontally or vertically across the sign face.

Two Displays

Portable changeable message signs2
Portable Changeable Message Signs

  • Place PCMS on ___________ or further away from the travel lane if possible.

  • PCMS arrow does not meet the requirements of Type C

    Arrow Display

  • A truck mounted PCMS Arrow Display meets the requirements of a Type B Arrow Display generally used for mobile operations.


Arrow displays refer to m54 44 page 7
Arrow DisplaysRefer to M54-44, page 7

The arrow display has a number of possible mode selections:

  • Flashing Arrow

  • Sequential Arrow

  • Sequential Chevron

  • Flashing Double Arrow

  • Flashing Caution

    Arrow displays are intended to be used in conjunction with appropriate signs, barricades, or other traffic control devices. The use and design of arrow displays are covered in Section 6F-3 of the MUCTD.

Arrow displays

Arrow Boards

Directional Indicator

Arrow Displays

Arrow displays provide additional advance warning and directional information to motorists when travel lanes are closed. Factors applied to the use of arrow boards.

  • Required for all lane ____________ on multi-lane highways (regardless of speed)

  • Do not use arrow mode for shoulder closures.

  • Use _______________ mode for shoulder closures.

  • Use only __________ arrow display per lane being closed.




Arrow displays1
Arrow Displays

  • Arrow should be used in combination with other appropriate traffic control devices.

  • Arrow display shall be capable of a minimum 50 percent dimming.

  • The color presented by the elements shall be yellow

  • For a stationary lane closure, the arrow should be located on the ________________ at the beginning of the taper.

  • The arrow ______________ be located behind channelizing devices.



Arrow displays2
Arrow Displays

  • An arrow _______ _______ be used on a two-lane roadway

  • An arrow _______ ________ be used on a multilane roadway to laterally __________ traffic.

  • Arrows should be visible for ___________

  • Only the four corner flash shall be used to indicate

    _________ (M54-44 page 30)

  • If the arrow board is mounted on the protection vehicle, use caution mode.

Shall Not

Shall Not


½ Mile



Channelization Device

  • Barricades facing traffic shall have the following number of retroreflectorized rail faces:

    • Type I: One for each direction needed

    • Type II: Two for each direction needed

    • Type III: Three for each direction needed

  • Stripes on barricades shall slope _________ at a 45 degree angle in the direction traffic is to ________




  • Drums

  • A minimum of two orange and two white horizontal, circumferential retroreflectorized stripes.

    • Drums shall have closed tops that will not allow collection of roadwork or other debris.

    • Drums should be ballasted to the manufacturer’s recommendation with loose sand or sandbags, or other appropriate means, but not with any materials which could make them hazardous to motorists, pedestrians, or workers.

    • Ballast should not be placed at the top of drums.



  • Hazard identification beacons


  • Steady-burning electric lamps, and

  • Warning lights

Truck mounted attenuators

Truck-Mounted Attenuators

  • A proper installation of a protective vehicle with a TMA should include:

Truck mounted attenuators (TMA) capable of absorbing the impact of errant vehicles can be attached to the rear of protective vehicles to reduce the severity of rear-end crashes ( M54-44) Page 5


  • Attenuator in the full ____________ position.

  • For stationary operations, the truck’s parking brake shall be _________ and if possible, its transmission in gear, and

  • The front wheels should be turned _________ from the work site or in a direction that the after-impact trajectory is into a safe area.



Warning vehicles types and use
Warning Vehicles – Types and Use

There are three types of protective/warning vehicles in work zones.

  • Shadow Vehicle - Used in a mobile operation, a shadow vehicle is a moving

    _____________ vehicle spaced a short distance upstream from the operation.

  • Protective Vehicle – A__________________truck positioned upstream from a stationary or moving operations. It is usually unoccupied in a stationary operation.

    Advance Warning Truck – This vehicle is parked a considerable distance upstream of either a moving or stationary operation and will be equipped with an arrow display and other advance warning signs as appropriate.

    Shadow and Protective vehicle should be equipped with a TMA in accordance with M54-44



Section 5 elements of traffic control plans
Section 5 – Elements of Traffic Control Plans

This session will describe the four component parts of temporary traffic control zones and discuss the use of various traffic control devices to produce a complete traffic control system. Selection of traffic control devices and the required spacing of devices will be addressed.

Temporary Traffic Control Zone

A temporary traffic control zone, also referred to as a work zone, extends from the first warning sign the motorist encounters through the last traffic control device, where traffic returns to its normal path and conditions. Most work zones can be divided into the follow 4 areas:

Section 5 elements of traffic control plans1
Section 5 – Elements of Traffic Control Plans

Temporary Traffic Control Zone

A temporary traffic control zone, also referred to as a work zone, extends from the first warning sign the motorist encounters through the last traffic control device, where traffic returns to its normal path and conditions. Most work zones can be divided into the follow 4 areas:

  • _______________Warning Area

  • ____________________ Area

  • ____________________ Area

  • _____________________ Area





Temporary traffic control zone
Temporary Traffic Control Zone

This Activity Area can be further divided into sub-areas referred to as

  • __________________________ Space

  • Traffic Space

  • __________________________ Space

  • Longitudinal Buffer Space (100’ min )

  • Lateral Buffer Space (2’ min.)



Suggested sign spacing
Suggested Sign Spacing

  • _________*___feet for urban and residential districts where speeds are severely restricted.

  • 350 feet for urban and residential areas with speeds in higher operating ranges.

  • ________________feet for typical rural conditions on two-lane roads with relatively high operating speeds. (35-40 MPH)

  • 1,500 feet or as per MUTCD for freeways and expressways.

    (M54-44 PG. 17)



Suggested Sign SpacingSigns must be spaced far enough apart so that the driver can read the sign, understand the message, ad take the appropriate action before being presented with the next sign or traffic control device. There fore, drivers should have from 3 to 10 seconds to respond to the message, and may need even more time if they also have to interact with other vehicles in heavy traffic

  • _____________ feet for urban and residential districts where speeds are severely restricted.

  • 350 feet for urban and residential areas with speeds in higher operating ranges.

  • _____________ feet for typical rural conditions on two-lane roads with relatively high operating speeds.

  • 1,500 feet or as per MUTCD for freeways and expressways.



Roadway TapersRoadway tapers are an important element of temporary traffic control and used to move traffic laterally from one path to another. They are used in the transition and termination areas and are created with a series of channelizing devices. The following five types of tapers are used in temporary traffic control zones.Refer to M54-44, page 13

  • Merging taper- lane _______________on Multi-lane highway.

  • Shifting taper – moves traffic from one lane into another lane, no ____________ required



Roadway tapers
Roadway Tapers

  • Shoulder taper – used when a shoulder is closed to traffic

  • Two-way traffic taper – used when traffic is controlled by ________________ on a two-way road.

  • Downstream taper – guides the motorist back into the previously closed _______________



Work zone taper lengths formulas


L = Taper length in feet

W = Width of offset in feet

S = Posted speed

45 mph or greater L=WxS

40 mph or less L=WS2


See M54-44 pg. 14

Section 5 continued
SECTION 5 - Continued

  • Tapers and buffer spaces.

Installing and removing traffic control devices
Installing and Removing Traffic Control Devices

The installation, modification, and removal of traffic control devices for maintenance and utility operations can be enhanced by adequate preparation. Installation and removal of temporary traffic control zones create situations that are often far more hazardous than the operation of the completed zone. These hazards are often greater than those during the work activity because:

  • Workers placing advance warning signs and channelizing devices must be in the roadway at points of high conflict without the full protection of the devices being placed.

  • The placement operation constitutes an unexpected situation for motorist as they are confronted with a roadway partially closed and a partial temporary traffic control zone.

Installing removing traffic control devices

Installing & Removing Traffic Control Devices

The inherent danger of these operations can be lessened, by using techniques that emphasize safety. Also, to reduce the exposure, the installation should be done as quickly as possible. To this end, several elements must be considered before the installation of the traffic control zone is undertaken.

Section 5 continued1
SECTION 5 - Continued

Installing and Removing Traffic Control Devices

  • Installation Sequence

  • Devices are installed in the direction that traffic moves — that is, moving “downstream.” The first device placed is the first advance warning sign. The installation then proceeds with the:

    • Advance warning area,

    • Transition area,

    • Activity area, and

    • Termination area.

Section 5 continued2
SECTION 5 - Continued


  • Signs should be turned ______from traffic or removed when not needed.

  • On high-speed roads a “shadow” or “protection” vehicle should be used.

  • This vehicle should be positioned on the shoulder some 100 feet or more behind the devices truck when the first signs are placed.

Section 5 continued3
SECTION 5 - Continued

Placing Channelizing Devices

  • When closing a lane, _______ are laid out in a straight line starting at the shoulder.

  • When placed by hand, the devices should be moved out from the shoulder with the worker looking toward traffic while moving into the lane to place the device.

  • Place each device further into the lane being closed.

  • The exact distance will depend on the number of devices being used.


Section 5 continued4
SECTION 5 - Continued

Removing Channelizing Devices

  • Traffic control zones should be removed by picking up the channelizing devices in the reverse sequence used for installation.

  • One way to do this is to remove the devices in the reverse order of installation and to place them on the side of the highway.

  • The work vehicle can then travel in the downstream direction to collect the devices.

  • WSDOT policy directs “No driving against traffic.” This means, if backing up, a spotter should be used (in accordance with OSHA regulations)

Section 6 implementing traffic control plans using the wsdot m54 44
SECTION 6 - Implementing Traffic Control PlansUsing the WSDOT M54-44

Selecting Typical Applications

  • The decision concerning which of the diagrams to select for developing the optimal TCP must consider three factors. These factors are:

    • Duration of the work

    • Location of the work

    • Highway type

Section 6 continued
SECTION 6 - Continued

Duration of Work

  • Five categories of work duration are defined in the MUTCD for temporary traffic control situations. They are:

    • Long‑Term Stationary— Work which occupies a location more than three (3) days.

    • Intermediate‑Term Stationary— Work that occupies a location from overnight to three (3) days.

    • Short‑Term Stationary—Work which occupies a location from ___ to_____ hours.

    • Short Duration— Work that occupies a location up to __________________

    • Mobile— Work which ________ intermittently or continuously.

1 12

One hour


Section 6 continued1
SECTION 6 - Continued

Roadway Type

  • Rural Roads – relatively low volumes & high speeds

  • Urban Arterials – usually high volumes with moderate speeds

  • Freeways & Expressways – Relatively high volumes & high speeds.

Section 6 continued2

Additional Devices

Increased number of signs

Special signs (PCMS)

Arrow displays

More Channelizing devices at closer spacing

Temporary raised pavement markers

Portable traffic signals

Portable barriers

Impact attenuators


Rumble strips

Intrusion alarms

SECTION 6 - Continued

Modifications of Typical Applications

Section 6 continued3

Upgrading of Devices

Larger signs

Brighter retroreflective materials

Brighter and/or wider pavement markings

Higher type channelizing devices

Barriers in place of channelizing devices

A full complement of standard pavement markings in areas of high hazard

Increased Distances

Longer advance warning areas

Increased taper lengths

SECTION 6 - Continued

Modifications of Typical Applications Continued...

Section 7 traffic control for mobile operations
SECTION 7 - Traffic Control for Mobile Operations


  • Mobile operations can be classified into the following three types, based on the speed at which the work crew travels along the highway:

    • Operations that___ ___ intermittently for short periods the roadway (typically no more than______ minutes) or travel at speeds of less than approximately 3 mph (e.g., pothole patching, crack sealing, litter pickup, etc.)

    • Operations which move continuously at speeds between 3 mph up to _____ mph without stopping; for example pavement marking and street sweeping.

    • Operations which are conducted at relatively high speeds, typically greater than _______ mph, such as snow removal.

    • See M54-44 pg. 30,31,32,33,34,35





Section 8 rolling slowdown
SECTION 8 - Rolling Slowdown

When, Where and How to Use

  • Valuable tool for emergencies or ________________ short duration road closures.

  • The purpose is to create a large gap or clear area where short term work can be accomplished without a total stoppage of _____________________.

  • Traffic control vehicles must enter roadway far enough upstream of the work to create the proper size ______________________.




Section 8 continued
SECTION 8 - Continued

  • One vehicle must follow last traffic vehicle __________________ of rolling slowdown.

  • Ramp traffic must be controlled.

  • If possible let ramp traffic proceed ____________________.



Section 8 continued1
SECTION 8 - Continued

  • Radio communications between the work crew and the blockade vehicles is necessary.

  • Speed of rolling slowdown may need to be adjusted to accommodate the workers.

  • Release traffic only after confirmation that the roadway is _________________________.