Category Archives: Traffic and Safety

New Project: Performance Evaluation of Detection Technologies for Signalized Intersections in Minnesota

Intersections can be controlled through pretimed systems or vehicle-actuated systems, which detect the presence of a vehicle. Good vehicle detection is the foundation of actuated systems. While loop detectors have been effective workhorses of vehicle detection for MnDOT, changes in vehicle fleets—for example, the use of nonferrous materials—and an increased need to detect vulnerable road users has resulted in an increased use of nonintrusive detection technologies (NIT).

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New Project: Mobile-Device Data, Non-Motorized Traffic Monitoring, and Estimation of Annual Average Daily Bicyclist and Pedestrian Flows

Understanding pedestrian and bicyclist flows is vital to distributing a limited construction budget to new infrastructure for improved safety on specific roads. Unfortunately, statewide data collection for active transportation flows is challenging.

MnDOT and local agencies historically have lacked estimates of bicycle and pedestrian traffic on Trunk Highways and County State Aid Highways.

Since about 2016, MnDOT has begun monitoring bicycle and pedestrian flow at more than 25 locations across the state, but, given the small number of counters and the variability of flows in response to variations in weather across Minnesota, these monitoring data are insufficient for estimation of Annual Average Daily Bicyclists and Annual Average Daily Pedestrians.

One option for obtaining travel data without expensive infrastructure is relying on mobile data collection.

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Improved In-Vehicle Lane Departure Warning System Approaches Commercial Use

Using an earlier lane departure warning system (LDWS) that employs standard GPS data rather than expensive cameras or maps, Minnesota researchers have enhanced and refined the system, moving closer to an affordable product to warn drivers about dangerous lane drift and approaching curves. 

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Separated Bike Lanes: Filling the Gaps in Design Guidance

In recent years, many U.S. cities have been installing separated bicycle lanes (SBLs) as part of their nonmotorized transportation networks. SBLs are bicycle pathways that employ paint and a vertical element as a buffer to separate motor vehicle traffic from bicycle traffic. They reduce crash risk, increase safety and comfort, and encourage more people to use bicycles as transportation. 

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MnDOT Prepares to Use Future Vehicle-to-Vehicle Messaging

Manufacturers are developing vehicles that can “talk” to each other. “Connected vehicles” will be able to convey their position, speed and acceleration. Sending this information to other vehicles and relevant infrastructure is expected to enhance highway safety, but it also may help transportation agencies better manage traffic.

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Smartphone App Aims to Help Drivers Switch to More Sustainable Transportation Modes

This article was originally published in Catalyst, May 2021.

Using an innovative mobility app, U of M researchers are pointing the way for drivers to shift their travel toward more sustainable modes such as transit, park-and-ride, walking, and biking.

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New Project: COVID-19 Impacts on Speed and Safety for Rural Roads and Work Zones

Although Minnesotans drove significantly less in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a substantial increase in fatal motor vehicle crashes.  MnDOT Traffic Safety Engineer Derek Leuer and his colleagues want to know why, particularly in rural areas where fatalities and injury rates were higher. 

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Improving Winter Road Weather Alerts on Highway Dynamic Message Signs

MnDOT maintains nearly 400 dynamic message signs (DMS) along Minnesota highways that display real-time information to warn motorists of roadway incidents, construction or congestion ahead that could pose a hazard or cause delay. DMS use to convey weather alerts has been limited to blizzards and other very isolated winter conditions. MnDOT has been concerned about the timeliness of weather messages and the chance that such messages could be overused, possibly leading motorists to take them less seriously. 

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