The effects of left-turn traffic-calming treatments on conflicts and speeds in Washington, D.C.

Hu, Wen / Cicchino, Jessica B.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
April 2020

Introduction: Left-turning vehicles pose considerable safety risks to pedestrians at intersections. Left-turn traffic-calming treatments are designed to slow left-turn traffic. This study examined the effects of one type of left-turn calming, the hardened-centerline treatment, on the numbers of conflicts between left-turning vehicles and pedestrians and left-turn speeds in Washington, D.C.
Method: Numbers of conflicts between left-turning vehicles and pedestrians, as well as left-turn speeds, were collected at selected intersections in Washington, D.C., where the hardened centerline was installed, as well as at control intersections in the city where no treatment was installed, before and after installation. Poisson regression evaluated the change in numbers of conflicts associated with the hardened-centerline treatment. The effect of the treatment on left-turn speeds was estimated by a log-linear regression model, and the effect on the odds of left-turning vehicles exceeding 15 mph was estimated by a logistic regression model.
Results: The treatment was associated with a 70.5% reduction in conflicts between left-turning vehicles and pedestrians, a 9.8% reduction in mean left-turn speeds, and a 67.1% reduction in the odds of left-turning vehicles exceeding 15 mph. All the reductions were statistically significant.
Conclusions: The study demonstrates that the hardened-centerline treatment can reduce conflicts between left-turning vehicles and pedestrians, and slow down left-turn traffic at intersections. Practical applications: The treatment should be added to the toolbox for communities looking to improve pedestrian safety at intersections.