Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

Yu Zhang

Co-Major Professor

Jian John Lu

Committee Member

Abdul Pinjari

Committee Member

Lakshminarayan Rajaram

Committee Member

Michael Weng

Keywords

Lane Balance Theory, Off-Ramp, Crash Analysis, Cross-Sectional Comparison, Crash Predictive Model

Abstract

The primary objective of the study is to evaluate the safety performance of different freeway exit types used in current practical designs. More specific, the research objectives include the following two parts: 1) to compare the safety performance of different design types at freeway diverge areas and exit ramp sections; and 2) to identify the impact factors contributing to the crashes happening at these two specific segments.

The study area includes four subjects, the freeway widely-spaced diverge areas; the freeway closely-spaced diverge areas; the left-side off-ramps and the exit ramp sections. For the freeway diverge areas, design types were defined based on the number of lanes used by vehicular traffic to exit freeways and lane-balance theory. Four exit ramp types were considered for the widely-spaced diverge area, including single-lane exit ramps (Type 1), sing-lane exit ramps without a taper (Type 2), two-lane exit ramps with an optional lane (Type 3), and two-lane exit ramps without an optional lane (Type 4).

For the closely-spaced diverge areas, three types, named as Type A, Type B and Type C, are selected to compare the safety performances among the three types. For the left-side off-ramp at the freeway diverge area, this study examined the two most widely used design types at the left-side freeway diverge areas in Florida, which are defined as Type I (one-lane left-side off-ramp), and Type II (two-lane left-side off-ramp). Type I is comparable to Type 1 design type and Type II is comparable to Type 3 design type at widely-spaced freeway diverge area. For the exit ramp sections, four ramp configurations, including diamond, out connection, free-flow loop and parclo loop, were considered.

Cross-sectional comparisons were conducted to compare the crash frequency, the crash rate, the crash severity and target crash types between different design groups. Crash predictive models were also built to quantify the impacts of various contributing factors. The results of this study would expectedly help transportation decision makers develop tailored technical guidelines governing the selection of the optimum design combinations at freeway diverge areas and exit ramp sections.

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