Safety Evaluation of Red-Light Indicator Lights (RLILs) At Intersections
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Safety Evaluation of Red-Light Indicator Lights (RLILs) At Intersections

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  • Abstract:
    The Development of Crash Modification Factors program conducted the safety evaluation of red-light indicator lights (RLILs) at intersections for the Evaluation of Low-Cost Safety Improvements Pooled Fund Study. This study evaluated safety effectiveness of RLILs. RLILs are auxiliary lights mounted on signal heads, mast arms, or poles that are directly connected to a traffic-control signal. The RLIL activates at the onset of the red phase and allows an enforcement officer to observe red-light running from downstream of the intersection. This strategy is intended to reduce the frequency of crashes resulting from drivers disobeying traffic signals by providing a safer and more efficient means for police to enforce the red interval. Geometric, traffic, and crash data were obtained at treated four-legged signalized intersections in Florida. To account for potential selection bias and regression-to-the-mean, an empirical Bayes before–after analysis was conducted using reference groups of untreated four-legged signalized intersections with characteristics similar to those of the treated sites. The analysis also controlled for changes in traffic volumes over time and time trends in crash counts unrelated to the treatment. Results indicate statistically significant crash reductions for most crash types. Disobeyed signal crashes had an estimated crash modification factor (CMF) of 0.71. Total crashes, fatal and injury crashes, right-angle, and left-turn crashes had estimated CMFs of 0.94, 0.86, 0.91, and 0.60, respectively. The benefit-cost ratio estimated with conservative cost and service life assumptions was 92:1 for four-legged signalized intersections. The results suggest that the treatment, even with conservative assumptions on cost, service life, and the value of a statistical life, can be cost effective. In addition to the crash-related benefits, RLILs can improve the efficiency and safety of red-light running enforcement efforts. While this study did not evaluate the efficiency and safety impacts with respect to enforcement, it should be noted that RLILs do allow police to observe violators from a downstream position, eliminating the need for a second observer (upstream) and the need to pursue a violator through the red light.
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