The LEAMaple LeafDRS Program

Results-Based Traffic Safety for Red Deer Road Users

             

            

THE RED DEER ROAD USERS' CHALLENGE:
JULY - OCTOBER 2016 UPDATE

 Red Deer Reportable Traffic Collisions: July 2016 to October 2016
Month July August September October
Fatal Collisions  0 0 0 0
Injury Collisions   19 8 14 4
Reportable Property Damage
 Only Collisions
239 235 254 256
What These Collisions Cost,
2016 $CDN
$3,833,100 $3,132,300 $3,704,600 $3,131,200

30 AVE./67 ST. (30/67) ROUNDABOUT SAFETY ISSUES

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. It is recommended that decision makers for Alberta Transportation and The City of Red Deer be surveyed after crossing the one- and two-lane 30/67 Roundabout crosswalks in groups of two to four during traffic, lighting and weather conditions that occur before and after normal school hours on school days. Following that, it is recommended that Red Deer high school students who currently walk individually or in groups across a major signalized intersection - 55 Street and 42A Avenue, 30 Avenue and 32 Street, or 30 Avenue and Avery Street/Lees Street - to or from school, be surveyed about crossing the 30/67 Roundabout crosswalks.

2. So that road users might know about hidden hazards, it is recommended that Alberta Transportation and The City of Red Deer immediately make the complete performance3 checks report, which is required to meet Alberta Transportation Technical Guidelines, available to the public.

3. To minimize the likelihood of unsafe practices becoming established and to increase safety for pedestrians in multilane crosswalks, it is recommended that the Report 672 Appendix A lane marking scheme for two lane roundabouts be adapted and applied throughout the 30/67 Roundabout as soon as practical.

4. So that road users might apply appropriate caution, it is recommended that detailed updates of 30/67 Roundabout collisions be released on a quarterly basis, coincident with the release of updates of crime statistics.

5. To reduce the likelihood of requiring prompt and expensive rework of newly completed roadworks, it is recommended that Preliminary Design Reports, or similar documents, be prepared for Red Deer roadway projects that have an estimated cost exceeding $5 million, and that the Reports be made available to the public at project open houses and on The City website prior to Council approval.

 

INTRODUCTION

Recent results for two-lane roundabouts in Canadian1 and U.S2. jurisdictions show

  • As expected, that casualty (fatal plus injury) collision rates for single vehicle and vehicle-vehicle collisions decrease about 60% compared to results for signalized intersections with similar traffic

  • Surprise, that fender benders involving single vehicle and vehicle-vehicle collisions (also known as reportable property damage only collisions) increase by 30% to 100%

The decrease in injury and fatality collisions for vehicle occupants means that roundabout intersections are likely to have lower social costs3 than the corresponding signalized intersections. However, the increase in the more common fender benders means that total collisions at two-lane roundabouts are greater than for corresponding signalized intersections.

A second surprise is how long it can take before collision rates at new multi-lane roundabouts stabilize. Results for the Region of Waterloo show that collision rates at new roundabouts initially are low, with crashes at some roundabouts still increasing during the fifth year of operation4.

A parallel of sorts occurred when all-red periods were introduced at signalized intersections5. Initially, short term reductions in crash rates occurred. Then drivers learned to exploit the safety margin by running through late amber or early all-red signals. It didn't take long for the previous intersection collision profile and frequency to re-establish.

The rationale used by Alberta Transportation6 to choose roundabouts as the default case for locations such as the intersection of 30 Avenue and 67 Street leans heavily on the results in a U.S. document7 that considered an average of 3.7 years of before data and 3.3 years of after data. Had Alberta Transportation required at least five years of after data to confirm roundabout safety, Red Deer might not have any two-lane roundabouts.

A third surprise is, that although Alberta Transportation states in its Technical Guidelines that "It is desirable to use NCHRP Report 672: Roundabouts: An Informational Guide Second Edition8 as the general design guideline9", Alberta Transportation's directive does not comply with Report 672 with regard to traffic lane markings. See item 3 below.

DISCUSSION

1. Pedestrian Safety

Roundabout safety performance studies have focused on reductions in the frequency and severity of vehicle collisions. There is little published information about pedestrian safety for multi-lane roundabouts. A search about the frequency and severity of vehicle-pedestrian collisions for a two-lane roundabout with the configuration and expected traffic volumes of the 20/67 Roundabout revealed no pertinent published results.

NCHRP Report 672, considered by Alberta Transportation to be a roundabout design authority, recognizes on its page 6-15 that crossing at multilane roundabouts is more precarious for pedestrians than at single lane roundabouts.

"Multilane roundabouts have longer crossing distances and pedestrians need assurance that all lanes are free of moving traffic before they can cross the street. Recent research indicates that two to three times more motorists do not yield to pedestrians at multilane roundabouts than at single-lane roundabouts. In addition, pedestrians are faced with the potential for multiple-threat crashes when the driver in the first lane stops to yield to a pedestrian, blocking the sight line between the pedestrian and any vehicles in the next lane. If neither the driver in the next lane nor the pedestrian sees the other user in time to take evasive action, a crash can occur in the second lane."

In response to requests10, 11, The City of Red Deer did not identify the location of any two-lane roundabouts elsewhere that had a high school close by nor had similarly unbalanced flows. Consequently, it seems fair to consider the 30/67 Roundabout to be more of an extrapolation outside, than an interpolation within, existing knowledge.

It took years to eliminate the two-stage pedestrian crossings at Gaetz Avenue and Parkland Mall, and at Gaetz Avenue and 32 Street, thus it was surprising to find the unsafe practice reappear on what should be a safe route to school. Based on observations before and after school at 55 Street and 42A Avenue, at 30 Avenue and 32 Street, and at 30 Avenue and Avery Street/Lees Street, the 30/67 Roundabout will have extended periods of high pedestrian volumes during rush hour traffic before and after school. Consequently, the concerning situation in Report 672 identified above is anticipated to occur frequently.

It is recommended that decision makers for Alberta Transportation and The City of Red Deer be surveyed after crossing the one- and two-lane 30/67 Roundabout crosswalks in groups of two to four during traffic, lighting and weather conditions that occur before and after normal school hours on school days. Following that, it is recommended that Red Deer high school students who currently walk individually or in groups across a major signalized intersection -- 55 Street and 42A Avenue, 30 Avenue and 32 Street, or 30 Avenue and Avery Street/Lees Street -- to or from school, be surveyed about crossing the 30/67 Roundabout crosswalks.

2. Performance Checks

Two peculiarities when approaching the 30/67 Roundabout from the south (30 Avenue northbound) are the dip in the roadway which accentuates the elevated platform feature of the roundabout lanes and, second, the curved structures in the splitter island on the driver’s left which impair the view of oncoming circulating traffic. Neither the dip nor the curved structures seem to be necessary: both have a negative effect on roundabout safety by restricting the view of the road surface ahead and the view of approaching vehicles with right-of-way in the circulating lanes.

For some reason, The City of Red Deer appears to disregard its guidelines regarding intersection sight distances and angles. Examples include the intersections of 48 Avenue with 46 Street and 47 Street12.        

Section 6.7 of Report 672 describes several performance checks and includes the criteria that the checks should meet.  Item 9 on page 5 of the Alberta Transportation Technical Guidelines for Roundabouts requires performance checks to be done in accordance with Section 6.7 of Report 672.  Knowing the extent that performance checks and criteria were or were not met will help drivers to compensate appropriately in order to be safe.

So that road users might know about hidden hazards, it is recommended that Alberta Transportation and The City of Red Deer immediately make the complete performance checks report, which is required to meet Alberta Transportation Technical Guidelines, available to the public.

 

3. Pavement Markings for Traffic Lanes

Where two lanes of traffic proceed in the same direction, road designers specify that white lines be placed on the roadway to show the common boundary of the two lanes. Solid white lines mean that lane changing is not permitted: broken white lines indicate that lane changing is permitted13.

It appears that provincial confusion regarding the correct pavement markings to use for separating dual entry, circulating and exit traffic lanes has occurred. Even though Alberta Transportation deems NCHRP Report 672 to be the general design guideline on roundabout design, Alberta Transportation has presented a different lane marking scheme.

  • The clip on the left below is the Alberta Transportation lane marking scheme14, comprised of broken white lines separating adjacent traffic streams into, around and out of the roundabout.

  • The clip on the right is from Appendix A of NCHRP Report 67215 and shows solid white lane dividing lines approaching and leaving crosswalks, and in some parts of the circulating lanes. The Report 672 sketch has broken white lines where vehicles enter or leave the circulating lanes.

       

The Alberta Alberta Transportation lane marking scheme indicates that vehicles may change lanes at any point in the roundabout.  Lane changes in the exit crosswalk area create particularly hazardous conditions for pedestrians: lane changes in the circulating area increase the likelihood of sideswipe collisions in addition to reducing the capacity of the roundabout.   

Alberta Transportation lane marking scheme indicates that vehicles may change lanes at any point in the roundabout.  Lane changes in the exit crosswalk area create particularly hazardous conditions for pedestrians: lane changes in the circulating area increase the likelihood of sideswipe collisions in addition to reducing the capacity of the roundabout.   

To minimize the likelihood of unsafe practices becoming established and to increase safety for pedestrians in multilane crosswalks, it is recommended that the Report 672 Appendix A lane marking scheme for two lane roundabouts be adapted and applied throughout the 30/67 Roundabout as soon as practical.

4. Roundabout Collisions

the 30/67 Roundabout is a new hazard to Red Deer drivers. It is also a new type of hazard.

Whereas two-lane roundabouts have predictable and significant collision rates16, what the roundabout replaced – a curve in the road – had a negligible collision rate.  Consequently, the roundabout produces a negative safety benefit to road users.  One of the groups most likely to be strongly affected are St. Joseph High School students when walking or driving to and from school.  Who will instruct them how to be safe for themselves and from others?

U.S. data17 in Report 572 indicates that six out of ten collisions at a two-lane roundabout are sideswipes – two in ten when entering the inner lanes, four in ten when leaving them.  Rear-enders from following too closely at the entry to the intersection are about three in ten collisions.  Report 672 data18 indicates that bicyclist and pedestrian crashes will be as much as 4% of the total.

The City of Red Deer has the data required to predict what the collision rate at the 30/67 Roundabout is likely to be but has not to date shared that estimate.

If the 30/67 Roundabout collision results are similar to those for the two-lane roundabout at Fountain Street North and Kossuth Road in Cambridge, Ontario19, then 1 - 2 injury collisions and 25 - 30 fender benders will occur each year. The societal cost of those collisions will be about $440,000 each year20.

            ................................................................................................ 

Compared to other jurisdictions, the U.K. has achieved superior results with respect to reducing unintentional roadway harm. Figures 2 and 3 below illustrate U.K progress relative to North American achievements.

Figure 221 compares the per capita traffic fatality rates of the U.S., Alberta, Canada, and the U.K. during recent years.
Figure 3 shows annual traffic fatalities in Alberta that actually occurred compared to what would have occurred had Alberta drivers achieved Canada or U.K. per capita rates. (One-third less at the Canada rate, two-thirds less at the U.K. rate)

One reason for the better performance in the U.K. is their practice of releasing information about individual roadway crashes. For example, the website www.roadcrash.co.uk obtains casualty collision information from the U.K. open government data website https://data.gov.uk , and displays it so that people might be aware of the locations, severities and frequenies of collisions on the roads that they use. The data program allows searching any location for any combination of years 2005-2015, for severities of slight injury and/or serious injury and/or fatal, and for the age range and gender of persons involved.

To illustrate the amount of public information available, the result of a search for casualty collisions during 2015 in the Piccadilly Circus area is provided below. The clip shows the approximate location of the one serious injury collision and four minor injury collisions.

Website information about that major injury collision, indicated by the red marker, is below. (Similarly detailed information is available on the website for each of the minor injury events.)

There is no legislation that prevents The City of Red Deer, or its parent government, from being equally forthright about the collisions that occur on the roadways they manage.

Both The City of Red Deer and the Government of Alberta receive copies of information about 30/7 Roundabout collisions reported by the local detachment of the RCMP. Consequently, either government could release timely and meaningful collision updates for that location. Alternately, either could authorize the Red Deer Detachment of the RCMP to release the information on their behalf.

If better informing local road users resulted in Red Deer collision severity profiles and frequencies near that of comparable urban areas in the U.K. – a decrease of two-thirds from our Alberta average, a considerable decrease in the amount of death and injury would occur. In addition, road users' monthly societal savings due to the reduction in avoidable self-and-other-harm could exceed $3 million. Valuable resources such as police, emergency rescue and medical services would be freed up at no additional cost. The extent to which The City met the requirement of Section 3(c) of the Municipal Government Act to develop and maintain safe and viable communities would improve accordingly. 

The information sharing process could start with the 30/67 Roundabout – it seems reasonable that the local and provincial governments, who acted together to create a new hazard that is also a new type of hazard, would let road users know, for example,

  • What to do and what not to do to avoid causing a roundabout collision

  • What actions by other road users to watch out for

  • Whether roundabout collision numbers are decreasing or increasing.

So that road users might apply appropriate caution, it is recommended that detailed updates of 30/67 Roundabout collisions be released on a quarterly basis, coincident with the release of updates of crime statistics.

5. Preliminary Design Report

As part of due diligence exercise related to improvement of the four-way stop controlled intersection of Sturgeon Road at Murry Park Road/Silver Avenue, the City of Winnipeg retained Stantec Consulting Ltd. to provide advice on the installation of a roundabout at that intersection. A copy of the Stantec Preliminary Design Report can be downloaded from http://winnipeg.ca/finance/findata/matmgt/documents/2015/67-2015/67-2015_Preliminary_Design_Report-Final.pdf .

Four two-lane and two one-lane roundabout options were identified. Preliminary designs were prepared for the one-lane roundabouts. Project costs were estimated to be $3.2 million and $5.3 million. The lower cost option was approved for construction in 2014. The roundabout was opened to traffic in June 2016.

The Preliminary Design Report provides considerable information about the need for the roundabout, current and projected traffic flows and turning movements, pros and cons of the two-lane options and corresponding information for the one-lane options. The information allowed Winnipeg City Council to decide that the lower cost option would be suitable. Placing the document on line allowed the public to understand the correctness of the selected option.

Had a Preliminary Design Repot for the 30/67 Roundabout been available to the public at the time of project open houses and prior to Council approval, many of the shortcomings described above could have been identified then. In the earlier case of the Taylor Drive/Ross Street modifications, public review of a preliminary design report may have identified the missing scope, thereby avoiding extensive rework.

Review of StatsCan22 information about police strength and crime severity index values show that three cities with low police strength compared to Edmonton and Calgary –Red Deer, Grande Prairie and Wetaskiwin – not surprisingly, have higher crime severity index values. To the extent that an inverse intensity relationship occurs – as police strength increases, crime intensity decreases – if Red Deer can reduce its practice of promptly needing to make expensive changes to newly completed roadworks, it will have more money for reducing crime.

To reduce the likelihood of requiring prompt and expensive rework of newly completed roadworks, it is recommended that Preliminary Design Reports, or similar documents, be prepared for Red Deer roadway projects that have an estimated cost exceeding $5 million, and that the Reports be made available to the public at project open houses and on The City website prior to Council approval.

 

REFERENCES

1.  Safety in a Roundabout, Region of Waterloo. Downloaded from http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/getting Around/Roundabout-Safety.asp

The Region of Waterloo reports that a "review of intersection on Region of Waterloo roads that were replaced with a roundabout indicates that collisions involving injuries or fatalities have been reduced by approximately 51%; where collisions in general increased slightly by approximately 35%.

2.  Traffic Safety Fundamentals Handbook, Minnesota Department of Transportation, 121 pages, June 2015. Downloaded from   http://www.dot.state.mn.us/stateaid/trafficsafety/reference/2015-mndot-safety-handbook-large.pdf

Page C-27 of the Traffic Safety Fundamentals Handbook of the Minnesota Department of Transportation states that ". . . multi-lane roundabouts have a . . . crash rate almost twice the average for high volume/low speed signal-controlled intersections in Minnesota".

3.  "Safety Effects of Roundabouts", Ela Shadpour, Laurier Centre for Economic Research & Policy Analysis, 31 pp., August 2012.

4.  "2014 Collision Report: Region of Waterloo", Transportation Division, Regional Municipality of Waterloo, 50 pp. See Exhibit 5.2.1 on page 35 for the data below. The Homer Watson/Block Line Roundabout in the Region of Waterloo became operational in 2011. The table shows the number and severity of collisions in subsequent years.

Collisions at the Homer Watson/Block Line Roundabout
Year 2011 2012 2013 2014
Injury Collisions 7* 3 13
Pedestrian Collisions  1*  0 0 1
Total Collisions 51* 53 72 107
* Partial year results

5. "Effectiveness of All-Red Clearance Interval on Intersection Crashes", Minnesota Department of Transportation, 166 pages, May 2004. Downloaded from https://www.lrrb.org/PDF/200426.pdf

6.  "Technical Guidelines" for "Design Bulletin #68/2010: roundabout Design Guidelines on Provincial Highways", Alberta Transportation, 14 attachments, 61 pp., amended November 5, 2014. See Item 3 on page 4 of 15.

7.  NCHRP Report 572: Roundabouts in the United States, Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., 125 pages, 2007. See page 16.

8.  NCHRP Report 672: roundabouts: An Informational Guide, Second Edition; Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., 406 pages, 2010.

9.  "Technical Guidelines" for "Design Bulletin#68/2010: Roundabout Design Guidelines on Provincial Highways", Alberta Transportation, 14 attachments, 61 pp., amended November 5, 2014. See Item 3 on page 4 of 15.

10. Correspondence from The City of Red Deer dated April 2, 2014.

11. Correspondence from The City of Red Deer dated April 21, 2015.

12. Correspondence to The City of Red Deer dated July 7, 2016.

13. "Highway Pavement Marking Guide", Alberta Transportation, 110 pp., March 2003 See page C2-2.

14. "Typical Pavement Markings at Multi-Lane Roundabout (Urban), Drawing TCS-C-100.3", Alberta Government, 1p., October 2014.

15. NCHRP Report 672: Roundabouts: An Informational Guide, Second Edition; Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., 406 pages, 2010. See page 5-23

17. NCHRP Report 572: Roundabouts in the United States, Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., 125 pages, 2007. See Table 6, page 17.

18. NCHRP Report 672: Roundabouts: An Informational Guide, Second Edition; transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., 406 pages, 2010. See Exhibit 5-12, page 5-17.

19. "2014 Collision Report: Region of Waterloo", Transportation Division, Regional Municipality of Waterloo, 50pp. See Exhibit 5.2.1, page 35.

20. The societal cost of collisions was developed using the human capital method. Year 2011 values are $3,040,000 per fatal collision, $59,600 per injury collision and $11,300 per reportable property damage only collision. Cost were factored up to year 2016 using the Inflation Calculator for Alberta at http://inflationcalculator.ca/alberta/ .

21. Country results are from year 2010 – 2015 Annual Road Safety Reports for the International Traffic Safety Data & Analysis Group (IRTAD). Downloaded from www.irtad.net . Alberta results are from Annual Reports for Alberta Traffic Collision Statistics. Downloaded from http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/3119.htm .

22. Table 252-0088 crime severity index and weighted clearance rates, by police service, Alberta, annual and Table 254-0004 Police personnel and selected crime statistics, municipal police services, annual, Statistics Canada.

Comments, suggestions, questions, concerns, corrections, whatever, are welcome by email to Doug.Taylor@leadrs.ca or by telephone to 403 342 2765.

Drive safer – always,
(And watch out for those who don't)
Doug

For more information on the Safer Driving Awards, check The Challenge, on this site.

Updated December 16, 2016

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