Surrogate Safety Study of Canadian Roundabout Merge Zones


Implementation of roundabouts has been relatively new in North America, and especially so in Québec. As the original design of the roundabout originates from Europe, where a greater emphasis is placed on yielding behaviour and unsiganlized priority rules in intersection design, some degree of uncertainty remains regarding suitability of implementation of certain design features of the roundabout in a North American driving context.

This research aims to investigate the safety effects of various geometric design features, land uses, and traffic conditions on road safety for roundabouts in Québec. In order to achieve this, video data is collected at a large number of roundabouts across the major population centres of the province of Québec. The video data is analyzed automatically using computer vision to extract road user trajectories at various merging zones among the roundabouts sampled. Several dozen potential geometry, land use, and traffic factors are identified at each of these merging zones and 35 merging zones are instrumented and annotated in this way. Safety at each of these merging zone is quantified using surrogate safety methods, a proactive approach to road safety which makes use of road user trajectories to model potential collision courses from ordinary road user behaviour. Basic surrogate safety measures used in this work include driving speed and yielding post-encroachment time, but the more sophisticated time-to-collision measure, modelled using motion-pattern motion-prediction, is also included in this analysis.

Smaller roundabout aprons are found to be associated with higher speeds. Higher speed limits, are also associated with higher observed speeds, though only at a fraction of the posted increase. Irregular design of the merging zone, as well as presence of driveways on or immediately next to the merging zone is found to be associated with more serious conflicts (as measured by time-to-collision). Additionally, lane configuration and roundabout size is found to be less significant on the relevant safety factors than expected. Overall, geometric design and land use factors are found to be correlated with traffic conditions, which in turn are also found to be correlated with surrogate safety measures, suggesting some degree of interplay between all of these.