The new ‘roadside airbag’ will begin tests in the West Midlands.
The organisation hopes it will help cut the hundreds of vehicle incursions into roadworks reported each month.
Described as large, bright and very visible, the Vehicle Incursion Airbag can be inflated in less than 10 minutes, so it can be put into place quickly.
The first trial area is a slip road on the A45/A46 Stivichall Interchange in Coventry: roadworks there begin later in October.
Highways England partner Kier is running the trial. Project manager Mark Sheppard said it “will give us a great opportunity to trial something a little bit different.
“Traffic management incursions are all too common, so the chance to take a different tack to help influence decisions made by some roads users is worth exploring.”
Highways England innovation manager Lisa Manc said: “Our road workers report around 240 incidents or vehicle incursions each month.
“It is a far too frequent hazard for our workforce – and the consequences could be fatal.
“We hope these airbags will go some way to protection our workers, but also help change drivers’ behaviours.”
The inflatable airbag barriers will supplement cones and signs, adding another layer to traditional traffic management.
The trial is costing £95,700 and is being funded through the Designated Funds programme, as part of £150 million Highways England has ringfenced to support innovation through 2015-2020.