Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The “twilight zone” of traffic costs lives at stoplight intersections

15.03.2012
Hundreds of lives are being lost each year in the United States because of mistakes made in what engineers call the “dilemma zone” – that area before a stoplight intersection where the traffic light turns yellow and the driver isn’t sure whether to stop or go ahead.
New research at Oregon State University will help to more precisely identify that danger zone. Traffic engineers can then use than information, along with advanced technology that can monitor the speed and location of oncoming traffic, to improve yellow-light timing and help address this problem.

When more widely implemented, this approach should help reduce driver confusion, add certainty to how intersections should be managed, and save lives.

“There are more than 30,000 traffic fatalities each year in the U.S., and about 2,000 of them occur in stoplight intersections,” said David Hurwitz, an OSU assistant professor of transportation engineering. “We think those crashes can be reduced with a better understanding of exactly where the dilemma zone is and how traffic lights and other technology can be adjusted to help manage it.”

Factors that lead to the problems in the dilemma zone include driving speed, distance to the stop light, driver skills, laws that vary by state, occasional scofflaws who are trying to “beat the red light,” and simple confusion by drivers who want to do the right thing but aren’t sure what it is.

There are many variables involved, Hurwitz said, such as vehicle speed and position. To help address that, researchers in one recent study used a tool called “fuzzy logic.” This provides a way to produce more exact decisions with inexact data, which in this case can include everything from drivers with very different skill sets and reaction times to automobile speeds and road variability.

Based on their speed and proximity to an intersection, when the traffic light turns yellow a driver has to make a decision whether to stop or proceed. A driver who is some distance away usually stops; and a driver who is extremely close to the intersection usually will go ahead. Those decisions are fairly easy. But the “dilemma zone” is the area where the choice isn’t so obvious, and the wrong decision can have serious, sometimes fatal consequences.

Complicating that, Hurwitz said, is that laws vary widely by state. In Oregon, for instance, the law requires that a car stop on a yellow light if it is safe to do so. In some other states, it’s legal to proceed on a yellow light, and even be in the intersection during a red light, if the front axle of the vehicle crosses the stop line before the light turns red.

Different laws can contribute to different driver behaviors, and national standards do not now exist.

Stop too suddenly, and you’re apt to have a rear-end collision with the vehicle behind you. Proceed or turn left when you shouldn’t, and even more serious crashes can occur, including head-on and side impacts. And based on the speed limit, the length of a yellow light at an intersection can vary greatly.

“In traffic engineering, consistency and uniformity is a critical concern,” Hurwitz said. “We want conscientious drivers to know what is the right thing to do. Given so many variables and differences in state law, that can be difficult.”

The findings have been published in two recent studies, in research that was supported by the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the Lilo and Richard Smith Transportation Fellowship.

“We want to help drivers know whether to stop or proceed, and do it in a manner that is safe,” Hurwitz said. “This approach should help accomplish that, prevent accidents and save lives.”

About the OSU College of Engineering: The OSU College of Engineering is among the nation’s largest and most productive engineering programs. In the past six years, the College has more than doubled its research expenditures to $27.5 million by emphasizing highly collaborative research that solves global problems, spins out new companies, and produces opportunity for students through hands-on learning.

The study this story is based on is available online: http://bit.ly/A2THta

David Hurwitz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.oregonstate.edu

More articles from Transportation and Logistics:

nachricht 3D mobility: a reality check for flying taxis
08.01.2020 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

nachricht New players, standardization and digitalization for more rail freight transport
16.07.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

All articles from Transportation and Logistics >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.

Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

Im Focus: Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices

The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...

Im Focus: Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.

Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.

Im Focus: New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery

After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

"Make two out of one" - Division of Artificial Cells

19.02.2020 | Life Sciences

High-Performance Computing Center of the University of Stuttgart Receives new Supercomuter "Hawk"

19.02.2020 | Information Technology

A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

19.02.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>