Safety Effect of Left-Turn Phasing Schemes at High-Speed Intersections

Principal Investigator(s):

Gary Davis, Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project summary:

This research estimated crash modification factors (CMFs) associated with different left-turn phasing schemes at intersections where the major approach speed limit exceeds 40 mph. For installation of signals at what were previously through/stop-controlled intersections, rear-end crashes increased while right-angle crashes decreased. Installation of the signal had no effect on major or minor approach left-turn crashes as long as the protected-only left-turn phasing was used on the major approaches. At one intersection where a signal was originally installed with permitted/protected phasing on the major approaches, the researchers found evidence for an increase in major approach left-turn crashes, which vanished when the major approach left-turn treatment was changed to protected-only. For several other phasing changes it was not possible to construct an after-treatment data set of sufficient size to permit reliable estimation of an effect. This project also described a simple solution model for left-turn, cross-path crashes, where a probabilistic gap acceptance model for the turning driver is combined with a standard braking model for the opposing driver. The model characterizes left-turn crashes as the result of the turning driver accepting a minimal gap and taking a longer time to complete his/her turn, while the opposing driver takes a longer time to react before braking. Reconstruction of an actual fatal crash, however, was more consistent with the opposing driver reacting normally, but with the turning driver selecting an atypically short gap. Characterizing the rate at which such selection errors occur would then be necessary to accurately predict left-turn crash frequencies.


Project details:

  • Project number: 2002043
  • Start date: 02/2004
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow
  • Topics: Safety