Using Czech TCT to Assess Safety Impact of Deceleration Lane at Thai U-turns
Purpose of this study is to evaluate safety impact of the deceleration lane at the Upstream Zone of at-grade U-turns on 4-lane divided Thai highways. A substantial speed reduction is required by vehicles for diverging and making U-turn, and the deceleration lanes are provided for this purpose. These lanes are also providing a storage space for the U-turning vehicles to avoid unnecessary blockage of through lanes and reduce the potential of rear-end collisions. The safety at the U-turn is greatly influenced by the proper or improper use of the deceleration lanes. Subject to their length, full or partial speed adjustment can occur within the deceleration lane also the road users’ behavior is influenced. To assess the safety impact, the four groups of U-turns with the varying length of deceleration lanes were identified. Owing to limitation of availability and reliability of road crash data in Thailand, widely accepted Traffic Conflict Technique (TCT) was used as an alternative and proactive methodology. The U-turns’ geometric data, traffic conflicts and volume data were recorded in the field at 8 locations, 8 hours per location. Severity Conflict Rate (SCR) was assessed by applying a weighing factor (based on the severity grades according to the Czech TCT) to the observed conflicts related to the conflicting traffic volumes. A comparative higher value of SCR represents a lower level of safety. According to the results, increase in the functional length of the deceleration lane yields a lower value of SCR and a higher level of the road safety.