Category Archives: Traffic and Safety

New Project: Using Apps to Notify the Public of Local Road and Bridge Closures

The traveling public increasingly relies on navigation systems to get to their destinations. Currently, there is not a system, tool, or process being used by cities and counties in Minnesota to report road or bridge closures for use by transportation agencies to display to the traveling public or for use by third-party mapping/navigation companies (e.g., Waze, TomTom, HERE Technologies, Google Maps) to provide to the public.

This project will document up to three best practices for manual local road closure reporting, describe an approach that the Local Road Research Board could use to develop or implement an existing user-friendly road closure reporting system, and provide guidance on how to report closures to third-party mapping/navigation companies.


MnDOT already operates and maintains a statewide traveler information reporting system known as CARS. This project will review and summarize the options and approach for adapting it for local road entry. As part of the study, researchers will:

  • Develop best practices for reporting systems by documenting four examples used in other states for establishing and operating tools to report local road closures.
  • Define three options for how to make a user-friendly system for local Minnesota agencies using the outcomes of the best practices summary.
  • Prepare users guide for entering information into existing mapping tools that will assist in understanding the process to submit road closures and mapping updates to established mapping/navigation providers.

Project Details

  • Estimated Start Date: 12/19/2022
  • Estimated Completion Date: 03/31/2024
  • Funding: Local Road Research Board
  • Principal Investigator: Dean Deeter
  • Technical Liaison:  Perry Clark

Details of the research study work plan and timeline are subject to change.

To receive email updates about this project, visit the Local Road Research Board to subscribe.

Using Signal Phasing and Timing Data to Reduce Fuel Use

Fuel consumption increases when vehicles stop and start at traffic signals. Transmitting traffic signal data to connected vehicles could control vehicles’ driving speed and limit unnecessary stopping and starting, potentially lowering fossil fuel use. A recent study looked at the benefits and costs of deploying more signal messaging technology to inform future infrastructure investments. 

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Study of Alcohol Overservice Finds Lack of Enforcement

Originally published as Study of alcohol overservice finds a lack of enforcement—and opportunities to improve in Catalyst, February 2023.

Overservice—the act of serving alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person—contributes to motor vehicle crashes and violence, and it’s illegal in 48 out of 50 states. Still, U of M researchers say overservice tends to be understudied and underenforced.

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Effective Placement of High-Tension Cable Median Barriers

While cable median barriers have drastically reduced fatal and other serious crashes, the barrier’s distance from the road may impact its safety effectiveness. MnDOT has a new method to estimate the change in the frequency of crashes based on this distance, facilitating informed decisions about installing or moving cable median barriers.

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Wearable technology for highway worker’s safety

This article was originally posted on Catalyst, January 2023.

Wearable technology could improve work-zone safety, but are highway workers on board?

Despite ongoing safety efforts, highway maintenance and operations workers have dangerous jobs. According to the Federal Highway Administration, an average of 135 highway workers loses their lives each year because of traffic incursions and limited space for maneuvering. Wearable technology embedded in work gear offers the promise of preventing injuries and deaths—and is already being used successfully in other construction fields. The big question: Would highway workers accept this technology?

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Investigating Max-Pressure Traffic Signal Timing

Inadequately timed traffic signals at intersections are a major contributor to traffic congestion and increased travel times. Adaptive signal timing can detect and respond to real-time vehicle queues, resulting in more efficient vehicle movement through a corridor than traditional traffic signals. A revised max-pressure traffic signal controller could decrease delays and increase vehicle throughput at intersections.

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New Project: Red Light Running Warning System

Red-light violations at traffic signals are a major contributor to crashes and fatalities. Right-angle type crashes typically account for the most serious of these collisions, and most of them are caused by vehicles running red lights. This research will explore technology that could be used to warn drivers when they are about to run a red light.

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Evaluating Weather’s Effects on the Accuracy of Automated Vehicles

Fully automated vehicles may not be market-ready yet, but one day, they expect to provide a variety of benefits like reduced emissions and greater safety and transportation equity. These vehicles and the complex combination of underlying technologies that power them are continually being tested and improved to ensure the vehicles will meet the highest standards of safety and performance. 

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Highway Death Toll Messages May Cause More Crashes

This article was originally published in Catalyst, May 2022.

Displaying the highway death toll on message boards is a common awareness campaign, but new research from the University of Toronto and University of Minnesota indicates this tactic may actually lead to more crashes.

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