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Application of driver behavior and comprehension to dilemma zone definition and evaluation

David S Hurwitz, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Among the most critical elements at signalized intersections are the design of vehicle detection equipment and the timing of change and clearance intervals. Improperly timed clearance intervals or improperly placed detection equipment can potentially place drivers in a Type I dilemma zone, where approaching motorists can neither proceed through the intersection before opposing traffic is released nor safely stop in advance of the stop bar. Type II dilemma zones are not necessarily tied to failures in design, but are more readily tied to difficulties in driver decision making associated with comprehension and behavior. The Type II dilemma zone issues become even more prevalent at high-speed intersections where there is greater potential for serious crashes and more variability in vehicle operating speeds. This research initiative attempts to further describe the impact of driver behavior and comprehension on dilemma zones. To address this notion several experiments are proposed. First, a large empirical observation of high-speed signalized intersections is undertaken at 10 intersection approaches in Vermont. This resulted in the collection of video and speed data as well as full intersection inventories and signal timings. These observations are reduced and analyzed for the purpose of reexamining the boundaries of a Type II dilemma zone. Second, a comparison of point and space sensors for the purpose of dilemma zone mitigation was conducted. This experiment provides evidence supporting the notion that space sensors have the potential for providing superior dilemma zone protection. Third, a computer based survey is conducted to identify if drivers comprehend the correct meaning of the solid yellow indication and how this relates to their predicted behavior. Lastly, a regression model is developed drawing on the data collected from the field observation as well as the static survey to determine how characteristics such as the speed and position of the vehicle as well as driver age and experience influence driver behavior in the Type II dilemma zone. Cumulatively, these experiments will shed additional light on the influence of driver behavior and comprehension on the Type II dilemma zone.

Subject Area

Civil engineering

Recommended Citation

Hurwitz, David S, "Application of driver behavior and comprehension to dilemma zone definition and evaluation" (2009). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3379971.