Category Archives: Traffic and Safety

Get Lots of Sleep—But Not Behind The Wheel

This article was originally published in Catalyst, 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.

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Improving Traffic Volume Estimates By Monitoring Health of Loop DetecTORS

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.

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Transverse Rumble Strips: Another Tool for Rural Road Safety?

Rural intersections account for 30% of crashes in rural areas and 6% of all fatal crashes, representing a significant but poorly understood safety problem.

Transverse rumble strips are one low-cost measure that some states have deployed to reduce rural intersection crashes.

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Optimal Sight Distances at Rural Intersections

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.

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Design Standards for Unobstructed Sight Lines at Left-Turn Lanes

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.

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Collaboration with Minnesota Zoo aims to conserve wildlife

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.

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Smartphone App Alerts Drivers Exceeding Speed Limits on Curves

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.

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Leveraging Existing Inductive Loops to Classify Highway Vehicles

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.

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Speed Notification System Warns Drivers Approaching Urban Work Zones

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. 

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