Date of Award

8-2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Civil Engineering

Advisor

Ogle, Jennifer

Committee Member

Brooks , Johnell

Committee Member

Sarasua , Wayne

Abstract

Traffic fatalities are a leading cause of death in the United States. Rural roads are especially hazardous as they account for 60 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States. Three main reasons for the rural road problems are high speeds, low volumes, and reduced driver awareness. This is particularly problematic where these roads navigate through communities requiring reduced speeds. Drivers who aren't alert and are driving too fast often miss the reduced speed warning signs and often don't slow until after they have entered the community. Therefore, engineers must do something to the design of the roadway environment that alerts drivers of changing surroundings in order to improve the safety in these areas.
This study uses a driving simulator to examine six innovative roadway transitions from rural driving environments to suburban driving environments in order to determine the effectiveness of reducing speeds. The treatments were all located at the fringes of the town in a section transitioning from a 55 mile per hour speed limit to a 35 mile per hour speed limit. The following is a list of the six treatments and three controls tested:
A. Median with Short Landscape
B. Layered Landscape
C. Control Two Lane Undivided Version 1
D. Control Two Lane with Center Lane
E. Control Two Lane Undivided Version 2
F. Gateway with Lane Narrowing
G. Medians in Series with No Pedestrian Walks
H. Gateway with Median
I. Medians in Series with Pedestrian Walks

The simulated environments are standardized to provide comparable measurements across transitions. The study was conducted by collecting data for 54 participants from three different age groups: 18 young drivers, 18 middle-aged, and 18 older drivers.
The results indicated that there was no significant difference in driving speeds between the three age groups except for at the rural edges of the towns. The results also determined that the following treatments were effective at reducing speeds beyond the untreated scenarios: Gateway with Median, Gateway with Lane Narrowing, Medians in Series with Pedestrian Walks, and Medians in Series with No Pedestrian Walks. The results determined that the following treatments were not effective at reducing speeds beyond the untreated scenarios: Median alone and the Layered Landscaping.

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