Design of Wet Surface Traffic Signal Timing Change Intervals

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Virginia Tech


Driver violations of traffic signals are a major cause of intersection vehicle crashes. The duration of yellow intervals is highly associated with driver yellow/red time stopping behavior. Rainy weather and wet pavement surface conditions may result in changes in both driver behavior and vehicle performance. The research presented in this thesis quantifies the impact of wet pavement surface and rainy weather conditions on driver perception-reaction times (PRTs) and deceleration levels, which are used in statistical models for the design of yellow intervals.

A new dataset with a total of 648 stop-run records were collected as part of the research effort during rainy weather and wet pavement surface conditions at the Virginia Department of Transportation's Smart Road facility. This experiment was conducted at a 72.4 km/h (45 mi/h) approach speed where participant drivers encountered a yellow indication initiation. The participant drivers were randomly selected in different age groups (under 40 years old, 40 to 59 years old, and 60 years of age or older) and genders (female and male).

Combined with an existing dataset that was collected by the same research group under clear weather conditions during the summer of 2008, statistical models for driver PRT and deceleration levels are developed, considering roadway surface and environmental parameters, driver attributes (age and gender), roadway grade, and time to the intersection at the onset of yellow. Using the state-of-the-practice procedures with the modeled PRT and deceleration levels, inclement weather yellow timings are then developed as a function of different factors (e.g., driver age/gender, roadway grade, speed limits, and precipitation levels). The results indicate that an increase in the duration of change interval is required for wet roadway surface and rainy weather conditions. Lookup tables are developed with different reliability levels to provide practical guidelines for the design of yellow signal timings in wet and rainy weather conditions. These recommended change durations can be integrated within the Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (VII) initiative to provide customizable driver warnings prior to a transition to a red indication.



traffic signal timing, wet surface, yellow interval, rain