INTRODUCTION Roundabouts are a relatively new design for intersection traffic management in North America. With great promises from abroad in terms of safety, as well as capacity—roundabouts are a staple of European road design—roundabouts have only recently proliferated in parts of North America, including the province of Québec. However, questions still remain regarding the feasibility of introducing the roundabout to regions where driving culture and road design philosophy differ and where drivers are not habituated to their use. This aspect of road user behaviour integration is crucial for their implementation, for roundabouts manage traffic conflicts passively. In roundabouts, road user interactions and driving conflicts are handled entirely by way of driving etiquette between road users: lane merging, right-of-way, yielding behaviour, and eye contact in the case of vulnerable road users are all at play for successful passage negotiation at a roundabout. This is in contrast with typical North American intersections managed by computer-controlled traffic-light controllers (or on occasion police officers) and traffic circles of all kinds which are also signalized. And while roundabouts share much in common with 4 and 2-way stops, they are frequently used for high-capacity, even high-speed, intersections where 4 and 2-way stops would normally not be justified. Resistance to adoption in some areas is still important, notably on the part of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists but also by some drivers too. While a number of European studies cite reductions in accident probability and accident severity, particularly for the Netherlands , Denmark , and Sweden , research on roundabouts in North America is still limited, and even fewer attempts at microscopic behaviour analysis exist anywhere in the world. The latter is important because it provides insight over the inner mechanics of driving behaviour which might be key to tailoring roundabout design for regional adoption and implementation efforts. Fortunately, more systematic and data-rich analysis techniques are being made available today. This paper proposes the application of a novel, video-based, semi-automated trajectory analysis approach for large-scale microscopic behavioural analysis of 20 of 100 available roundabouts in Québec, investigating 37 different roundabout weaving zones. The objectives of this paper are to explore the impact of Québec roundabout design characteristics, their geometry and built environment on driver behaviour and safety through microscopic, video-based trajectory analysis. Driver behaviour is characterized by merging speed and time-to-collision , a maturing indicator of surrogate safety and behaviour analysis in the field of transportation safety. In addition, this work represents one of the largest applications of surrogate safety analysis to date.
INTRODUCTION Traditional methods of road safety analysis rely on direct road accident observations, data sources which are rare and expensive to collect and which also carry the social cost of placing citizens at risk of unknown danger. Surrogate safety analysis is a growing discipline in the field of road safety analysis that promises a more pro-active approach to road safety diagnosis. This methodology uses non-crash traffic events and measures thereof as predictors of collision probability and severity as they are significantly more frequent, cheaper to collect, and have no social impact. Time-to-collision (TTC) is an example of an indicator that indicates collision probability primarily: the smaller the TTC, the less likely drivers have time to perceive and react before a collision, and thus the higher the probability of a collision outcome. Relative positions and velocities between road users or between a user and obstacles can be characterised by a collision course and the corresponding TTC. Meanwhile, driving speed (absolute speed) is an example of an indicator that measures primarily collision severity. The higher the travelling speed, the more stored kinetic energy is dissipated during a collision impact . Similarly, large speed differentials between road users or with stationary obstacles may also contribute to collision severity, though the TTC depends on relative distance as well. Driving speed is used extensively in stopping-sight distance models , some even suggesting that drivers modulate their emergency braking in response to travel speed . Others content that there is little empirical evidence of a relationship between speed and collision probability . Many surrogate safety methods have been used in the literature, especially recently with the renewal of automated data collection methods, but consistency in the definitions of traffic events and indicators, in their interpretation, and in the transferability of results is still lacking. While a wide diversity of models demonstrates that research in the field is thriving, there remains a need of comparison of the methods and even a methodology for comparison in order to make surrogate safety practical for practitioners. For example, time-to-collision measures collision course events, but the definition of a collision course lacks rigour in the literature. Also lacking is some systematic validation of the different techniques. Some early attempts have been made with the Swedish Traffic Conflict Technique using trained observers, though more recent attempts across different methodologies, preferably automated and objectively-defined measures, are still needed. Ideally, this would be done with respect to crash data and crash-based safety diagnosis. The second best method is to compare the characteristics of all the methods and their results on the same data set, but public benchmark data is also very limited despite recent efforts . The objectives of this paper are to review the definition and interpretation of one of the most ubiquitous and least context-sensitive surrogate safety indicators, namely time-to-collision, for surrogate safety analysis using i) consistent, recent, and, most importantly, objective definitions of surrogate safety indicators, ii) a very large data set across numerous sites, and iii) the latest developments in automated analysis. This work examines the use of various motion prediction methods, constant velocity, normal adaptation and observed motion patterns, for the TTC safety indicator (for its properties of transferability), and space and time aggregation methods for continuous surrogate safety indicators. This represents an application of surrogate safety analysis to one of the largest data sets to date.
Due to the complexity and pervasiveness of transportation in daily life, the use and combination of larger data sets and data streams promises smarter roads and a better understanding of our transportation needs and environment. For this purpose, ITS systems are steadily being rolled out, providing a wealth of information, and transitionary technologies, such as computer vision applied to low-cost surveillance or consumer cameras, are already leading the way. This paper presents, in detail, a practical framework for implementation of an automated, high-resolution, video-based traffic-analysis system, particularly geared towards researchers for behavioural studies and road safety analysis, or practitioners for traffic flow model validation. This system collects large amounts of microscopic traffic flow data from ordinary traffic using CCTV and consumer-grade video cameras and provides the tools for conducting basic traffic flow analyses as well as more advanced, pro-active safety and behaviour studies. This paper demonstrates the process step-by-step, illustrated with examples, and applies the methodology to a case study of a large and detailed study of roundabouts (nearly 80,000 motor vehicles tracked up to 30 times per second driving through a roundabout). In addition to providing a rich set of behavioural data about Time-to-Collision and gap times at nearly 40 roundabout weaving zones, some data validation is performed using the standard Measure of Tracking Accuracy with results in the 85-95% range.
The age of Big Data is here and many industries have already started embracing it. The transportation industry stands much to gain from large-scale data analysis due to the complexity and pervasiveness of transportation in daily life, which promises smarter roads and a better understanding of our transportation needs and environment. But this inertia is also one of the greatest challenges to big data adoption initiatives. Transitionary technologies may, however, provide the answer to kick-start this migration today. This paper presents, in detail, a practical framework for implementation of an automated, high-resolution, video-based traffic-analysis system, particularly geared towards traffic flow modelling, behavioural studies, and road safety analysis. This system collects large amounts of microscopic traffic flow data from ordinary video cameras and provides the tools for studying basic traffic flow measures as well as more advanced, pro-active safety measures. This paper demonstrates the process step-by-step illustrated with examples and applies it to a case study of a large set of roundabout data. In addition to providing a rich set of behavioural data, the analysis suggests a relationship between flow ratio and safety, between lane arrangement and safety, and is inconclusive about the relationship between approach distance and safety.