The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has announced this month (October 2018) that it is pursuing an update to the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways” — the MUTCD — in preparation for the future of automated vehicles and to afford states and local communities with more opportunities to utilize innovation.
On September 18, 2018, Maine DOT published the following wording and roundabout design on their Facebook page, but unfortunately the layout is unsatisfactory:
“It’s National Roundabout Week! Roundabouts have proven to be far safer than traditional intersections, but some people are still unsure of how to navigate them…”
The problem is that, like most other states, Maine is apparently following the Federal Highways Administration [FHWA] ethos on roundabout construction but such guidelines deliberately ignore global best practices that have been developed over the fifty years in which the USA failed to build what are properly called “modern roundabouts.” Sadly, the result is roundabouts that can have multiple potential safety flaws, just like the one in this illustration, as posted by Maine DOT.
At the east end of the evocatively-named Rip Van Winkle Bridge in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York State is a seriously dangerous intersection where, briefly, routes 23 and 9G merge together.
Unclear or inaccurate traffic signs, road signs, pavement markings or road markings — call them what you prefer — can cause confusion or even danger.
Here’s one from Colorado, photographed in May 2018, but what exactly does it mean?
In an article published in January 2018, Business Insider listed the most dangerous intersection in every state in the USA, and in each case there was an accompanying photograph, although not always from a suitable angle or elevation.
From what can be seen in the photographs, many of the intersections would benefit tremendously from the installation of a roundabout. Roundabouts don’t necessarily reduce the overall number of collisions — indeed when first installed a roundabout may see an increase in the number of minor collisions while people get used to the new type of intersection — but the number of serious collisions, involving injuries and deaths, will drop dramatically as long as the roundabout is well-designed, and just as importantly, as long as the drivers in that state are being taught the best way to drive into, around and out of roundabouts. However, while the first of these points is increasingly being met (although not so in the first photograph shown below), the second — the education aspect — is deliberately and unforgivably being rejected by the FHWA, and as a result, all state-level DOTs that we know of.
Back in 2010, at a conference in Washington, DC, about the then-imminent commencement of the international ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety, 2011-2020’, I had the good fortune to meet the very likable Joe Toole, who was then the head of the Federal Highway Administration [FHWA], one of the two executive divisions of the USDOT. Continue reading “America’s Most Dangerous Intersections — the Need for More, Better-Designed Roundabouts, plus Accurate Info for Drivers!”
Website ‘The Hill’, which reports news from the Senate and the House, has published an article on the fact that while autonomous vehicles are rapidly being developed America’s roads are simply not ready for them.
Poor quality paint is dangerously and very frequently used for pavement markings and crosswalks in the USA, in place of more-expensive but vastly-safer thermoplastic materials which have a high-glass-bead content for excellent reflectivity at night and in bad weather.
Compare the photo above with the one below. They are at the same location and were taken less than 12 hours apart.
Continue reading “USA: Crosswalks made with Low Quality Paint or in Pretty Colors are Potentially Deadly”
According to Autoblog, university researchers “have figured out how to hack self-driving cars by putting stickers on street signs.”
Removing or alternating passing/overtaking possibilities on undivided rural highways, together with the introduction of narrow-profile guard rails between the center lines is a technique that was pioneered very successfully by Sweden and has now been used with similar success in New Zealand. And there’s definitely both the scope and the need to use it in the USA, too.
In pursuit of Vision Zero, LA is introducing what California (and the USA?) is calling scramble crosswalks, at which all traffic is stopped simultaneously while pedestrians can cross the intersection in any direction, including diagonally.