Estimating Rear-End Accident Probabilities at Signalized Intersections: A Comparison Study of Intersections With and Without Green Signal Countdown Devices
Objective: Rear-end accidents are the most common accident type at signalized intersections, because the diversity of actions taken increases due to signal change. Green signal countdown devices (GSCDs), which have been widely installed in Asia, are thought to have the potential of improving capacity and reducing accidents, but some negative effects on intersection safety have been observed in practice; for example, an increase in rear-end accidents.
Methods: A microscopic modeling approach was applied to estimate rear-end accident probability during the phase transition interval in the study. The rear-end accident probability is determined by the following probabilities: (1) a leading vehicle makes a “stop” decision, which was formulated by using a binary logistic model, and (2) the following vehicle fails to stop in the available stopping distance, which is closely related to the critical deceleration used by the leading vehicle. Based on the field observation carried out at 2 GSCD intersections and 2 NGSCD intersections (i.e., intersections without GSCD devices) along an arterial in Suzhou, the rear-end probabilities at GSCD and NGSCD intersections were calculated using Monte Carlo simulation.
Results: The results suggested that, on the one hand, GSCDs caused significantly negative safety effects during the flashing green interval, especially for vehicles in a zone ranging from 15 to 70 m; on the other hand, GSCD devices were helpful in reducing rear-end accidents during the yellow interval, especially in a zone from 0 to 50 m.
Conclusions: GSCDs helped shorten indecision zones and reduce rear-end collisions near the stop line during the yellow interval, but they easily resulted in risky car following behavior and much higher rear-end collision probabilities at indecision zones during both flashing green and yellow intervals. GSCDs are recommended to be cautiously installed and education on safe driving behavior should be available.