This article was originally published inCatalyst, May 2020.
Many of us would never drive after drinking, but we’re not as hesitant about getting behind the wheel after being awake for too long or not getting enough sleep. It turns out that can be just as dangerous as driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
A newly developed system helps traffic engineers quickly spot failing loop detectors, which are used to monitor traffic volumes on Minnesota highways. The software program, developed by the University of Minnesota-Duluth for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, evaluates loop detector data and reports current loop detector health in an easy-to-read graphic format, making it easy to identify loop detectors in need of repair and which loop detectors should be used for the most accurate traffic counts.
A new study sponsored by the Minnesota Local Road Research Board has identified 1,000 feet as an optimal sight distance for allowing drivers to make better crossing decisions at rural intersections. Researchers used a state-of the-art driving simulator to examine drivers’ ability to judge traffic speed and gaps between cars at unsignalized intersections with varying sight distances.
Positive offset left-turn lanes are one solution to improving left-turning motorists’ visibility of opposing through and right-turning traffic.
MnDOT is revising its Road Design Manual and seeks to incorporate more information, policies and design guidance regarding positive offset left-turn lanes.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin’s Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory reviewed safety performance data from research that examined left-turn offsets. They also consulted 23 state DOT road design guides to understand the extent of available guidance.
Turtles and other wildlife are at risk along Minnesota roadways.
MnDOT is collaborating with the Minnesota Zoo on a new research
project installing small animal exclusion fencing. The fencing is
intended to redirect turtles (and other small animals) to culverts and bridges
where they can cross the road safely.
Researchers have developed a proof-of-concept curve speed warning system for use with mobile phones, a technology they hope car manufacturers might adopt for in-vehicle systems. The proof-of-concept system uses data from local road agencies on curve locations, speed limits and signage with geofencing to trigger cloud-based data alerts to road users driving faster than recommended speeds for curves.
Researchers evaluated the use of existing inductive loop installations in Minnesota for vehicle classification. Results showed that inductive loops may be effective at identifying and classifying individual vehicles as they pass, but the system will require further refining for Minnesota use.
Using an innovative method to calculate vehicle trajectories and gather large amounts of driver data, researchers tested and evaluated the new Smart Work Zone Speed Notification system and determined that its messages successfully influenced drivers to reduce their speed.