red-light Running (Long Verion)

Downloadable Version
PDF [4.3 MB]
PPT [16.9 MB]

FHWA logo.
FHWA Office of Safety Logo: Safe Roads for a Safer Future, Investment in roadway safety saves lives.

Photograph of two cars wrecked in a crash.

speaker notes:

This is an approximately 1-hour presentation on the topic of red-light running (RLR). Topics covered include:

  • Nature of the problem
  • Definitions of RLR
  • Safety facts about RLR
  • Crash types associated with RLR
  • Documents available on intersection safety and RLR
  • Countermeasures for RLR problems

slide 2

Traffic Signals

  • There are at least 3 million intersections in the United States.
  • At least 300,000 are signalized.

Photograph of a stoplight head.

 

speaker notes:

Major Points to Make:

  • These are very gross estimates. There is no nation-wide inventory of traffic signals. The point to make is that roughly 10% (but likely even less) of the intersections in the United States are signalized.

slide 3

Intersection Fatalities

  • There were 8,657 intersection fatalities in 2007.
Pie chart indicates that 65 percent of fatalities occurred at unsignalized intersections, 31 percent occurred at signalized intersections, and 4 percent were unknown.

speaker notes:

Major Points to Make:

Even though signalized intersections make up only 10% of intersections in the U.S., signalized intersections account for nearly a third of the fatalities that occur at intersections.

Source: FARS database, crashes classified as either "intersection" or "intersection-related"


slide 4

What is red-light Running?

  • Permissive yellow rule:
    • Driver can legally enter intersection during entire yellow interval
    • Violation occurs if driver enters intersection after onset of red
  • Restrictive yellow rule:
    • Driver can neither enter nor be in intersection on red
    • Violation occurs if driver has not cleared intersection after onset of red

speaker notes:

Major Points to Make:

  • Discussion opportunity. Ask the question before revealing the rest of the slide. Builds on one click.
  • Question: What is red-light Running?
  • Answer: Depends on the definition of what a yellow light means.
  • The permissive yellow rule is that stated in the MUTCD and Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC).
  • 37 states + DC have laws in substantial conformity with the meaning of the yellow and red indications in the MUTCD and UVC. Another 9 states require motorists to stop on yellow but also drive cautiously through the intersection on the red if too close to stop safely.
  • The definition of a violation for permissive yellow is not technically correct depending how the term "intersection" is defined. According to the MUTCD and UVC, a violation occurs if the motorists crosses the stop line after onset of the red, or if none, the crosswalk, or if none the intersection.
  • Four states—LA, TN, RI, WV—prohibit vehicles from crossing the intersection on red. The laws in these four states are not in conformity with the meaning of the yellow and red indications specified in the MUTCD.

slide 5

Intersection Definition

Aerial photograph shows the center part of a 4-way signalized intersection highlighted in red. The red shading also covers the areas on the approaching travel lanes between the edge of the stop bar and the square that is the intersection proper, including those segments of crosswalks that run between the stop bar and the center of the intersection.


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • A driver is running a red-light if his or her vehicle enters the red shaded area, after the light turns red. According to the MUTCD, the boundary for a red-light violation begins at the marked stop line. If there is no stop line, then the boundary begins at the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. If there is no crosswalk or stop line, the intersection begins at the extension of the curb line or roadway edge.
  • Some states are using the extension of the curb line to mark the boundary for red-light running regardless of whether there are stop lines or crosswalk. This practice is not consistent with the meaning of the red signal in the MUTCD.

slide 6

Safety Facts About Red-Light Running

Line graph depicts red-light running fatalities from 2000 to 2007. Fatalities are slightly lower in 2007 than they were in 2000.

Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • This graph shows the latest data available on red-light running crashes.
  • This data is estimated from federal crash data.
  • Crash data does not specifically isolate red-light running as a causal factor in a crash.
  • Overall there has been very little change (perhaps a slight trend downward) in red-light running fatalities.

slide 7

Safety Facts About Red-Light Running

Line graph depicts the total number of red-light running crashes, number of persons injured, and number of injury crashes for each year from 1997 to 2004. The data trends are roughly parallel as they edge downward over time.

Source: Establishing a Uniform Definition of Red-Light Running Crashes, ITE Journal, March 2006.


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • This graph shows the latest data available on red-light running crashes.
  • This data is estimated from federal crash data.
  • Crash data does not specifically isolate red-light running as a causal factor in a crash.
  • There appears to be a general trend downward in red-light running crashes for the data shown.

slide 8

Safety Facts About Red-Light Running

  • Red-light running crashes are more likely than other crashes to cause injury
  • On urban roads, fatal RLR crashes are more likely than other fatal crashes
  • Fatal RLR crashes are somewhat more likely to occur during the day

Source: Prevalence and Characteristics of red-light Running Crashes in the United States, Accident Analysis and Prevention, 1999


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • red-light running crashes have some characteristics that may not necessarily be true for other types of crashes.
  • This may seem obvious, but they happen at very specific locations (intersections with signals) as opposed to, say, rural run-off road crashes that can occur in an "infinite" number of locations.

slide 9

Types of Crashes

Iconic images depicting a right-angle crash, where vehicles approaching the intersection at right angles intersect in a crash; a rear-end crash, where one vehicle cannot stop for the light in time and crashes into the vehicle stopped in front of it; and a left-turn crash, in which an oncoming vehicle is hit by a vehicle attempting to cross its path.

speaker notes:

Major Points to Make:

  • These are the three most common types of crashes associated with red-light running.
  • However, these types of crashes are not exclusively related to red-light running. Therefore, when investigating the causal factors of crashes, it is always important to review the police reports to determine what may have caused the crash.
  • Depending on the crash type and causal factor(s), different countermeasures may be applicable.

slide 10

Red-Light Running Studies

  • 4% of Americans reported running red-lights
    • 1% run them "often"
    • 3% run them "sometimes"
  • 97% of drivers feel that other drivers running red-lights are a major safety threat
  • 1 in 3 people claim they personally know someone injured or killed in a red-light running crash

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • A lot of research has been done in recent years focusing on red-light running.
  • Considered a hot topic for many jurisdictions.

Sources:

  • First 2 bullet points: National Survey of Speeding and Other Unsafe Driver Actions, Vol. 2: Findings, Report No. DOT HS 809 730, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, May 2004.
  • Third bullet point: A Nationwide Survey of red-light Running: Measuring Driver Behaviors for the "Stop red-light Running" Program, June-August, 1999, Old Dominion University for DaimlerChrysler Corp

slide 11

Types of Red-Light Runners

Graphic indicates there are two types of red-light runners: unintentional, which can be mitigated by engineering countermeasures, and intention, which can be mitigated by enforcement countermeasures.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • red-light runners are generally categorized into unintentional violators and intentional violators.
  • In general engineering countermeasures should help address the unintentional violations and enforcement countermeasures should help address the intentional violations.

slide 12

Effective Programs

Iconic image depicting the interrelationship between engineering, education, and enforcement.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • This is probably the most important slide of the whole presentation.
  • To truly be successful in combating a red-light running problem, a holistic (comprehensive) approach must be taken.
  • To just focus on one aspect is not a good approach and will likely fail.
  • However, it should be mentioned that looking at "engineering" countermeasures should always be a step taken before increased enforcement. The point is that there should be a plan that takes into account all three aspects.

slide 13

Possible Causes and Countermeasures

Possible Cause of RLR Engineering Enforcement Education
Did not see signal Likely countermeasure. empty cell Possible countermeasure.
Tried to beat yellow Possible countermeasure. Likely countermeasure. Likely countermeasure.
Reported they had green Likely countermeasure. empty cell empty cell
Intentional violation Possible countermeasure. Likely countermeasure. Likely countermeasure.
Unable to stop vehicle Likely countermeasure. empty cell Possible countermeasure.
Followed another vehicle Likely countermeasure. Likely countermeasure. empty cell
Confused by signal Likely countermeasure. empty cell Possible countermeasure.
Likely countermeasure. = Likely countermeasure.
Possible countermeasure.= Possible countermeasure.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Research has shown that there are many causes for running red-lights. This table illustrates some of them and the primary countermeasure technique that could be applied.

slide 14

The First Step

  • The first step to addressing red-light running is to conduct a thorough field review.
Screenshot of a sample assessment sheet for engineering countermeasures for red-light running.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • This is the first step to addressing a concern at a particular intersection. The step before this would be to identify intersections that are candidates for reducing red-light running. There are numerous methods for identifying candidate locations that are not addressed in this presentation. This type of analysis will be dependent on crash data that the local jurisdiction has access to.
  • The engineer responsible for the intersection should always conduct a thorough on-site review of the intersection prior to the jurisdiction increasing enforcement.
  • Several checklists are available for use:

slide 15

Intersection Safety Resources

  • NCHRP Report 500 Volume 12
  • Guide sheets
  • Safety Strategies brochure
  • Signalized Intersections: Informational Guide
Collage of the cover pages for the resources listed on this slide.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • FHWA has numerous resources available to help traffic and transportation engineers analyze intersections from a safety viewpoint. The documents shown in the slide are just examples (there are plenty more).
  • Web sites will be shown at the end of the presentation.
  • Many are free to download from the Internet.

slide 16

Red-Light Running Resources

  • red-light Camera Systems: Operational Guidelines
  • Making Intersections Safer: A Toolbox...
  • Field Guide for Inspecting Signalized Intersections...
Collage of the cover pages for the resources listed on this slide.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • FHWA has numerous resources available to help traffic and transportation engineers analyze intersections from a safety viewpoint. The documents shown in the slide are just examples (there are plenty more).
  • Web sites will be shown at the end of the presentation.
  • These are downloadable in HTML and PDF formats.

slide 17

Engineering Countermeasures

  • Improve signal visibility
  • Improve line of sight
  • Improve signal conspicuity
  • Increase likelihood of stopping
  • Improve signal timing
  • Eliminate the need to stop

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Each of these 6 bullet points will be discussed in more details on the following slides.
  • The following countermeasure slides are only examples of engineering countermeasures and are not meant to be all-inclusive.

slide 18

Improve Signal Visibility

  • Install one signal face per approaching lane.
  • Use 12-inch lenses.
Photograph of multi-lane intersections where each approach lane has its own signal face.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Prior to the advent of LED signal heads, this countermeasure would have significantly increased the power consumption requirements for the traffic signal.
  • Using the larger 12-inch lenses also will improve signal conspicuity. Proposed language for the new edition of the MUTCD says that 12-inch lenses SHALL be used for all new signal installations.

Crash Reduction Factors:

  • 12-inch lenses: All severities (11%), All severities – urban (24%); Fatal/injury – urban (16%); All severities – right angle (46%)
  • One signal per lane: All severities (28%); Rear-end (28%); Right angle (46%)

NOTE ABOUT CRASH REDUCTION FACTORS: Source is Intersection Safety Briefing #8: Toolbox of Countermeasures and Their Potential Effectiveness to Make Intersections Safer. USDOT/FHWA/ITE.


slide 19

Improve Signal Visibility

  • Install supplemental signal heads
Two photos where supplemental signal heads have been installed on corners, median strips, and diagonally opposite approaching traffic at an intersection hidden by a curve in the road.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Supplemental signals are very helpful on roads that have horizontal curves near the intersection and roads with significant truck traffic.

Crash Reduction Factors:

  • All severities – urban (28%); Fatal/injury – urban (17%); PDO – urban (31%); All severities – right angle (35%)

slide 20

Improve Line of Sight

  • Use special signal face treatments
Two photos in which signal heads have been treaded either with black backplates or squared visors which fit around each of the three individual light displays on the signal.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Other countermeasures to improve line of sight are using:
    • Programmable lens signals (although some styles do not work as well with LED signals and should be used with caution)
    • Visors
    • Louvers

slide 21

Improve Signal Conspicuity

  • Use backplates to increase target value of signal heads.
Set of photos displaying signal heads with and without backplates.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • One of the most inexpensive treatments that can have an affect on signal visibility/conspicuity.
  • In the photo on the right, the signals in the foreground do not have backplates installed while the signals in the background do have them.

Crash Reduction Factors:

  • All severities (13%); All severities – right angle (50%)

slide 22

Improve Signal Conspicuity

  • Install LED indications
Photo of an LED signal head.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • There are still some issues to be addressed with LED signals since they are still relatively new such as life cycle, degradation, and failure modes. However, there is no doubt that a properly functioning LED signal face is brighter and more conspicuous than a standard incandescent bulb.
  • The 2005 Energy Policy Act has outlawed manufacture and sale of incandescent signals, so at some point agencies will have to convert to LEDs.  They should consider doing it sooner rather than later, not just for the energy savings but also for the signal conspicuity benefits.

slide 23

Improve Signal Conspicuity

  • Use double red indications for special cases.
Two photos, one of a double red signal head,  and one of a double red signal head on a roadway with horizontal curves.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Double-red indications are especially helpful on approaches with horizontal curves (which is the case for the photo on the left).
  • Also helpful for first signalized intersection after long stretch of intersections or roadway without any signals.

Crash Reduction Factors:

  • All severities (9%); All severities – right angle (36%)

slide 24

Increase Likelihood of Stopping

  • Use signal ahead signs to warn motorists of upcoming traffic control.
Photo of a roadway sign indicating a signal ahead.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Advance warning is useful where sufficient decision sight distance is not available.
  • Doubling up (one on each side) can also be useful, especially on divided multi-lane approaches to a signalized intersection.

Crash Reduction Factors:

  • Advance warning signs: All severities (22%); All severities – right angle (35%)

slide 25

Increase Likelihood of Stopping

  • Use dynamic warning in special cases.
Two photographs of flashing yellow warning beacons and signal warning signs. One beacon and sign set is mounted on a post beside the roadway, and the other is suspended on a mast arm above the roadway.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Dynamic warning systems can be used in special circumstances like:
    • Limited sight distance due to horizontal or vertical curves
    • First signalized intersection after long stretch without signals (e.g. transition from rural to urban)
    • Heavy truck traffic (possibly used in conjunction with a dilemma zone protection system)
  • Crash Reduction Factors:
    • All severities (27%); All severities – right angle (62%); All severities – rear end (36%)
  • Improving the friction characteristics of pavements can also help increase the likelihood of stopping.
    • Crash reduction factor: All severities (25%)

slide 26

Increase Likelihood of Stopping

  • Increase pavement friction.
Two photographs of roadways where road friction improvements are being applied.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Improving the friction characteristics of pavements can also help increase the likelihood of stopping.
  • Crash reduction factor: All severities (25%)

slide 27

Improve Signal Timing

Photograph of a signalized intersection in an urban area.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Traffic engineers should make sure that yellow change interval is set properly. This step is covered in the field review checklist that was presented in an earlier slide.
  • Research shows that yellow interval duration is a significant factor affecting the frequency of red-light running and that increasing yellow time to meet the needs of traffic can dramatically reduce red-light running.
  • When yellow intervals are set too short for the prevailing speed, there is likely to be a higher incidence of red-light running due to drivers being caught in the dilemma zone.

Crash Reduction Factors:

  • All severities (8%), Fatal/injury (12%)

slide 28

Improve Signal Timing

  • Equation for determining adequate yellow time.
Equation. Yellow duration in seconds equals reaction time plus the result of (the product of 1.47 times the 85th percentile speed) divided by (the sum of 2 times deceleration plus 2 times grade times accesselation due to gravity).

Y = yellow duration in seconds

t = reaction time = 1 s

V85 = 85th percentile speed in mi/h

d = deceleration=10ft/s2

G = grade in ft/ft

g = acceleration due to gravity = 32.2ft/s2


speaker notes:

Major points:

  • This equation for calculating the minimum yellow interval duration was proposed by Technical Committee 4A-16 of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and is recommended in the Traffic Control Devices Handbook and recent FHWA safety guidance
  • It allows normal motorists enough time to reach the intersection before the light turns red if they are too close to safely stop
  • If the approach speed is not known, then the speed limit plus 10 mi/h is recommended. Studies show that most speed limits in general are 8-12 mi/h below the prevailing speed.
  • An additional 0.5 sec of yellow time should be considered for locations with significant truck traffic, significant population of older drivers
  • Yellow times less than recommended by this equation result in more red-light violations and higher crash rates.
  • Increasing yellow times that are shorter than recommended by this equation has been show to reduce severe red-light related crashes. A 1 sec increase in yellow time results in 40 percent decrease in severe red-light related crashes.

Source: Bonneson, J.A., and K. Zimmerman. Development of Guidelines for Identifying and Treating Locations with a Red-Light-Running Problem. Report No. FHWA/TX-05/0-4196-2. Texas Department of Transportation, Austin, Texas, September 2004.

A new NCHRP Project 3-95 will be conducting research to determined if the equation and parameter values are valid for all conditions. The results will be available in about 3 years.


slide 29

Improve Signal Timing

  • Retime signals to provide improved progression
Photograph of two urban intersections where both signals are green.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Also a reasonably inexpensive countermeasure.
  • Also make mention of dilemma zone protection as a way to improve signal operations by reducing the likelihood that a driver will be caught in the dilemma zone at the onset of the yellow indication.

slide 30

Eliminate the Need to Stop

  • Use roundabouts where feasible.
Photograph of a roundabout in a suburban setting.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • From the FHWA Web site:
    • A roundabout is a one-way, circular intersection in which traffic flows around a center island. Roundabouts are designed to meet the needs of all road users—drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. A roundabout eliminates some of the conflicting traffic, such as left turns, which cause serious crashes at traditional intersections. Because roundabout traffic enters or exits only through right turns, the occurrence of severe crashes is substantially reduced. Small angle collisions that may occur as a result of a right-hand turn are typically less severe than other types of collisions.
    • Not all circular intersections are roundabouts. Many existing traffic circles or rotaries operate under different traffic rules and have experienced operational and safety problems.
    • The three safety design features of a roundabout are yield control of entering traffic; channelized approaches that deflect traffic into the proper one-way, counterclockwise flow; and geometric curvature of the circular road and angles of entry to slow the speed of vehicles. These three features are critical to the success of a roundabout because they effectively decrease driving speed to typically 30 miles per hour or less.
  • As outlined in the FHWA Guidance Memorandum on July 10, 2008:
    • Roundabouts are the preferred safety alternative for a wide range of intersections.
    • Although they may not be appropriate in all circumstances, they should be considered as an alternative for all proposed new intersections on Federally-funded highway projects, particularly those with major road volumes less than 90 percent of the total entering volume.
    • Roundabouts should also be considered for all existing intersections that have been identified as needing major safety or operational improvements. This would include freeway interchange ramp terminals and rural intersections.

Crash Reduction Factors:

  • All severities (35%), Fatal/injury (76%)

slide 31

Eliminate the Need to Stop

  • Remove unneeded traffic signals.
Two photos, one with a worker removing a signal mounted to a post, the other of a sign indicating that a signal is under study for removal.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Important to plan the removal of signals very carefully.
  • Involve stakeholders early.
  • Post signs and information in advance.
  • Cover signals first instead of simply removing.

Crash Reduction Factors:

  • All severities – urban (24%); Fatal/injury – urban (53%); All severities – right angle (24%); All severities – rear end (29%)

slide 32

The Next Step

  • Follow up countermeasures with observation
  • Number of red-light runners can be surrogate for improved safety
  • If unsuccessful, look towards enforcement countermeasures
Photograph of an engineer performing observations at a signalized intersection.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Engineers need to observe traffic behavior to see if any engineering countermeasures implemented were helpful in reducing RLR.
  • Doesn't make sense to wait for 2-3 years of crash data to come through, so simply recording number of red-light runners can serve as a surrogate for the more typical safety measures.

slide 33

Enforcement Countermeasures

  • Increased enforcement
  • Enforcement assistance lights
  • Automated enforcement

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Each of these bullet points will be discussed in subsequent slides.

slide 34

Increased Enforcement

  • After engineering countermeasures have been implemented and if they did not correct the problem.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Fairly self-explanitory.
  • This goes back to slide on the comprehensive approach. Engineering countermeasures should always be investigated before turning to increased enforcement.
  • Enforcement typically does not have a long-lasting effect.

slide 35

Enforcement Assistance Lights

  • Install enforcement lights to help police.
Two photos depicting enforcement lights. One photo has a blowup of pole-mounted enforcement lights, and the other shows the light attached at the bottom of a signal head.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • This is an enforcement countermeasure with an engineering component. But it isn't meant for the driver, it is a tool for police to use.
  • Enforcement assistance lights allow traffic officers to sit downstream of the signal and know what color the indication is of the head that is facing the upstream traffic.
  • Typically the light is on when the signal indication is red (as in the left photo and inset).
  • By sitting downstream, an officer does not have to go through the intersection in order to pull over a red-light violator.
  • Nor does it require two officers (one upstream to observe the violation, the other downstream to pull the driver over).
  • Engineering should work closely with their local police department and court system before installing assistance lights. Support from PD is essential.

Enforcement assistance lights are also known by other names: red-signal enforcement lights, white lights, tattletale lights, and rat lights.


slide 36

Automated Enforcement

  • Implement a red-light camera safety program.
Set of photos depicting post- and pole-mounted red-light cameras and a sign indicating a signalized intersection is photo enforced.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Automated enforcement should be one of the last countermeasures to be considered to reduce red-light running. And only as part of a comprehensive effort to improve intersection safety.

From FHWA Web site FAQ page:

  • Question: What is the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) position on the use of photo enforcement cameras?
  • Answer: FHWA and NHTSA support a comprehensive approach to intersection safety that incorporates engineering, education, and enforcement countermeasures to prevent RLR and improve intersection safety. red-light camera (RLC) systems can be a very effective countermeasure to prevent red-light running (red-light Camera Systems Operational Guidelines, FHWA-SA-05-002, January 2005).

slide 37

red-light Cameras

Map of the United States indicating states where red-light cameras are operated: AL, AZ, CA, CO, DC, DE, GA, FL, IA, IL, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, TX, WA.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety web site (www.iihs.org)


speaker notes:

  • As of September 2008, red-light cameras are used in approximately 370 communities in the U.S. This map represents all of the states that have at least one community with a red-light cameras (dark green). A complete list is maintained by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (www.iihs.org).
  • New NCHRP project will be updating this information

Some key lessons learned:

  • Early planning:
    • Establish a Steering Committee.
    • Establish Program Objectives.
    • Identify the Legal Requirements.
    • Assess System Procurement Alternatives.
    • Establish Public Awareness and Information Campaign.
  • Sites selected for the installation of red-light camera systems should be based on accurate crash and red-light violations data.
  • Signs warning motorists that red-light cameras are being used are typically required by law or ordinance but, whether required or not, should be posted as part of the driver awareness and education process.
  • The installation of a red-light camera system at a signalized intersection identified as having a red-light running problem should be done when an engineering study of the intersection determines photo enforcement is an appropriate countermeasure to reduce the incidence of red-light running.
  • When red-light camera systems are in operation, law enforcement officials should place an emphasis on routine enforcement of traffic laws and regulations that require visible and unobstructed display of license plates.
  • The MUTCD and ITE recommended practice on the length of yellow interval times provides adequate and proper direction to practitioners. Yellow times should be established in accordance with the MUTCD (17) guidelines and the ITE (9) informational report for methods for calculating yellow time intervals.
  • An on-going public information and education campaign is needed to assure the motoring public that the red-light running camera program is being operated in the most effective, efficient, and fair manner possible.

slide 38

Education Countermeasures

Collage of informational document covers.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Education countermeasures can be done in conjunction with both engineering and enforcement countermeasures.
  • Web sites, posters, brochures, drivers education training, community meetings, radio and TV PSAs, Internet "ads"

slide 39

For More Information

FHWA Office of Safety
http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
www.iihs.org

Institute of Transportation Engineers
http://www.ite.org/safety/

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
http://safety.transportation.org/

Red Means Stop Coalition
http://www.redmeansstop.org/


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • These web sites can be accessed for further information on the material contained in this presentation.

speaker notes:

This is an approximately 1-hour presentation on the topic of red-light running (RLR). Topics covered include:

  • Nature of the problem
  • Definitions of RLR
  • Safety facts about RLR
  • Crash types associated with RLR
  • Documents available on intersection safety and RLR
  • Countermeasures for RLR problems

slide 2

Traffic Signals

  • There are at least 3 million intersections in the United States.
  • At least 300,000 are signalized.

Photograph of a stoplight head.

 

speaker notes:

Major Points to Make:

  • These are very gross estimates. There is no nation-wide inventory of traffic signals. The point to make is that roughly 10% (but likely even less) of the intersections in the United States are signalized.

slide 3

Intersection Fatalities

  • There were 8,657 intersection fatalities in 2007.
Pie chart indicates that 65 percent of fatalities occurred at unsignalized intersections, 31 percent occurred at signalized intersections, and 4 percent were unknown.

speaker notes:

Major Points to Make:

Even though signalized intersections make up only 10% of intersections in the U.S., signalized intersections account for nearly a third of the fatalities that occur at intersections.

Source: FARS database, crashes classified as either "intersection" or "intersection-related"


slide 4

What is red-light Running?

  • Permissive yellow rule:
    • Driver can legally enter intersection during entire yellow interval
    • Violation occurs if driver enters intersection after onset of red
  • Restrictive yellow rule:
    • Driver can neither enter nor be in intersection on red
    • Violation occurs if driver has not cleared intersection after onset of red

speaker notes:

Major Points to Make:

  • Discussion opportunity. Ask the question before revealing the rest of the slide. Builds on one click.
  • Question: What is red-light Running?
  • Answer: Depends on the definition of what a yellow light means.
  • The permissive yellow rule is that stated in the MUTCD and Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC).
  • 37 states + DC have laws in substantial conformity with the meaning of the yellow and red indications in the MUTCD and UVC. Another 9 states require motorists to stop on yellow but also drive cautiously through the intersection on the red if too close to stop safely.
  • The definition of a violation for permissive yellow is not technically correct depending how the term "intersection" is defined. According to the MUTCD and UVC, a violation occurs if the motorists crosses the stop line after onset of the red, or if none, the crosswalk, or if none the intersection.
  • Four states—LA, TN, RI, WV—prohibit vehicles from crossing the intersection on red. The laws in these four states are not in conformity with the meaning of the yellow and red indications specified in the MUTCD.

slide 5

Intersection Definition

Aerial photograph shows the center part of a 4-way signalized intersection highlighted in red. The red shading also covers the areas on the approaching travel lanes between the edge of the stop bar and the square that is the intersection proper, including those segments of crosswalks that run between the stop bar and the center of the intersection.


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • A driver is running a red-light if his or her vehicle enters the red shaded area, after the light turns red. According to the MUTCD, the boundary for a red-light violation begins at the marked stop line. If there is no stop line, then the boundary begins at the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. If there is no crosswalk or stop line, the intersection begins at the extension of the curb line or roadway edge.
  • Some states are using the extension of the curb line to mark the boundary for red-light running regardless of whether there are stop lines or crosswalk. This practice is not consistent with the meaning of the red signal in the MUTCD.

slide 6

Safety Facts About Red-Light Running

Line graph depicts red-light running fatalities from 2000 to 2007. Fatalities are slightly lower in 2007 than they were in 2000.

Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • This graph shows the latest data available on red-light running crashes.
  • This data is estimated from federal crash data.
  • Crash data does not specifically isolate red-light running as a causal factor in a crash.
  • Overall there has been very little change (perhaps a slight trend downward) in red-light running fatalities.

slide 7

Safety Facts About Red-Light Running

Line graph depicts the total number of red-light running crashes, number of persons injured, and number of injury crashes for each year from 1997 to 2004. The data trends are roughly parallel as they edge downward over time.

Source: Establishing a Uniform Definition of Red-Light Running Crashes, ITE Journal, March 2006.


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • This graph shows the latest data available on red-light running crashes.
  • This data is estimated from federal crash data.
  • Crash data does not specifically isolate red-light running as a causal factor in a crash.
  • There appears to be a general trend downward in red-light running crashes for the data shown.

slide 8

Safety Facts About Red-Light Running

  • Red-light running crashes are more likely than other crashes to cause injury
  • On urban roads, fatal RLR crashes are more likely than other fatal crashes
  • Fatal RLR crashes are somewhat more likely to occur during the day

Source: Prevalence and Characteristics of red-light Running Crashes in the United States, Accident Analysis and Prevention, 1999


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • red-light running crashes have some characteristics that may not necessarily be true for other types of crashes.
  • This may seem obvious, but they happen at very specific locations (intersections with signals) as opposed to, say, rural run-off road crashes that can occur in an "infinite" number of locations.

slide 9

Types of Crashes

Iconic images depicting a right-angle crash, where vehicles approaching the intersection at right angles intersect in a crash; a rear-end crash, where one vehicle cannot stop for the light in time and crashes into the vehicle stopped in front of it; and a left-turn crash, in which an oncoming vehicle is hit by a vehicle attempting to cross its path.

speaker notes:

Major Points to Make:

  • These are the three most common types of crashes associated with red-light running.
  • However, these types of crashes are not exclusively related to red-light running. Therefore, when investigating the causal factors of crashes, it is always important to review the police reports to determine what may have caused the crash.
  • Depending on the crash type and causal factor(s), different countermeasures may be applicable.

slide 10

Red-Light Running Studies

  • 4% of Americans reported running red-lights
    • 1% run them "often"
    • 3% run them "sometimes"
  • 97% of drivers feel that other drivers running red-lights are a major safety threat
  • 1 in 3 people claim they personally know someone injured or killed in a red-light running crash

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • A lot of research has been done in recent years focusing on red-light running.
  • Considered a hot topic for many jurisdictions.

Sources:

  • First 2 bullet points: National Survey of Speeding and Other Unsafe Driver Actions, Vol. 2: Findings, Report No. DOT HS 809 730, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, May 2004.
  • Third bullet point: A Nationwide Survey of red-light Running: Measuring Driver Behaviors for the "Stop red-light Running" Program, June-August, 1999, Old Dominion University for DaimlerChrysler Corp

slide 11

Types of Red-Light Runners

Graphic indicates there are two types of red-light runners: unintentional, which can be mitigated by engineering countermeasures, and intention, which can be mitigated by enforcement countermeasures.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • red-light runners are generally categorized into unintentional violators and intentional violators.
  • In general engineering countermeasures should help address the unintentional violations and enforcement countermeasures should help address the intentional violations.

slide 12

Effective Programs

Iconic image depicting the interrelationship between engineering, education, and enforcement.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • This is probably the most important slide of the whole presentation.
  • To truly be successful in combating a red-light running problem, a holistic (comprehensive) approach must be taken.
  • To just focus on one aspect is not a good approach and will likely fail.
  • However, it should be mentioned that looking at "engineering" countermeasures should always be a step taken before increased enforcement. The point is that there should be a plan that takes into account all three aspects.

slide 14

The First Step

  • The first step to addressing red-light running is to conduct a thorough field review.
Screenshot of a sample assessment sheet for engineering countermeasures for red-light running.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • This is the first step to addressing a concern at a particular intersection. The step before this would be to identify intersections that are candidates for reducing red-light running. There are numerous methods for identifying candidate locations that are not addressed in this presentation. This type of analysis will be dependent on crash data that the local jurisdiction has access to.
  • The engineer responsible for the intersection should always conduct a thorough on-site review of the intersection prior to the jurisdiction increasing enforcement.
  • Several checklists are available for use:

slide 14

Intersection Safety Resources

  • NCHRP Report 500 Volume 12
  • Guide sheets
  • Safety Strategies brochure
  • Signalized Intersections: Informational Guide
Collage of the cover pages for the resources listed on this slide.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • FHWA has numerous resources available to help traffic and transportation engineers analyze intersections from a safety viewpoint. The documents shown in the slide are just examples (there are plenty more).
  • Web sites will be shown at the end of the presentation.
  • Many are free to download from the Internet.

slide 15

Red-Light Running Resources

  • red-light Camera Systems: Operational Guidelines
  • Making Intersections Safer: A Toolbox...
  • Field Guide for Inspecting Signalized Intersections...
Collage of the cover pages for the resources listed on this slide.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • FHWA has numerous resources available to help traffic and transportation engineers analyze intersections from a safety viewpoint. The documents shown in the slide are just examples (there are plenty more).
  • Web sites will be shown at the end of the presentation.
  • These are downloadable in HTML and PDF formats.

slide 16

Engineering Countermeasures

  • Improve signal visibility
  • Improve line of sight
  • Improve signal conspicuity
  • Increase likelihood of stopping
  • Improve signal timing
  • Eliminate the need to stop
A collage of photos depicting a post mounted warning beacon in advance of signalized intersection, a roundabout in a suburban setting, the approach to an urban intersection with the signal on the yellow phase, and a multi-lane intersection depicting one signal head per approach lane.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • There are numerous engineering countermeasures that can be implemented. Countermeasures should be selected carefully in order that they address the types of crashes that are occurring.
  • The LONG version of this presentation goes into very specific details about all of these types of countermeasures.
  • Photos are examples of various countermeasures. Clockwise from upper right:
    • Increasing likelihood of stopping by installing advanced flashers
    • Eliminate need to stop by constructing roundabouts
    • Improve signal timing by ensuring yellow intervals are timed properly
    • Improve signal visibility by installing one signal head per approach lane


slide 17

The Next Step

  • Follow up countermeasures with observation
  • Number of red-light runners can be surrogate for improved safety
  • If unsuccessful, look towards enforcement countermeasures
Photograph of an engineer performing observations at a signalized intersection.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Engineers need to observe traffic behavior to see if any engineering countermeasures implemented were helpful in reducing RLR.
  • Doesn't make sense to wait for 2-3 years of crash data to come through, so simply recording number of red-light runners can serve as a surrogate for the more typical safety measures.

slide 18

Enforcement Countermeasures

  • Increased enforcement
  • Enforcement assistance lights
  • Automated enforcement
Collage of photos depicting a pole-mounted red-light camera, a photo enforcement sign, and a signal enforcement light mounted to the base of a mast-arm mounted signal head.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • If engineering countermeasures are unsuccessful at reducing red-light running, enforcement countermeasures may need to be implemented.
  • The LONG version of this presentation goes into very specific details about all of these types of countermeasures.
  • Photos are examples of various countermeasures. From left to right:
    • Right light camera installation
    • red-light photo enforcement sign
    • Enforcement assistance light (also called red-signal enforcement lights, white lights, tattletale lights, and rat lights)


slide 19

Education Countermeasures

Collage of informational document covers.

speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • Education countermeasures can be done in conjunction with both engineering and enforcement countermeasures.
  • Web sites, posters, brochures, drivers education training, community meetings, radio and TV PSAs, Internet "ads"

slide 20

For More Information

FHWA Office of Safety
http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
www.iihs.org

Institute of Transportation Engineers
http://www.ite.org/safety/

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
http://safety.transportation.org/

Red Means Stop Coalition
http://www.redmeansstop.org/


speaker notes:

Major points to make:

  • These web sites can be accessed for further information on the material contained in this presentation.

Return to top

Program Contact

Jeffrey Shaw

708-283-3524

What’s New

New Signalized Intersections: An Informational Guide

South Carolina Case Study: Systematic Intersection Improvements

Roundabout Outreach and Education Toolbox

Stop-Controlled Intersection Safety: Through Route Activated Warning Systems

Roundabouts: An Informational Guide, Second Edition (NCHRP Report 672)

Roundabouts Peer-to-Peer Assistance

How to drive a roundabout (WSDOT)

Modern Roundabouts: A Safer Choice

Highlights

FHWA's Intersection Resources Library CD-ROM

Roundabouts Technical Summary

Mini-Roundabouts Technical Summary

Access Management in the Vicinity of Intersections Technical Summary

Intersection Safety Case Studies

Intersection Safety Technologies

Presentation: Intersection Safety

Example Intersection Safety Implementation Plan

Intersection Safety Implementation Plan Workshop

Example Data Analysis Package and Straw Man Outline