Virtual Road Safety Audit of the Watertown Plank Road Interchange

Granting Agency: Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Researchers: David Noyce (PI), Andrea Bill

Primary Project Objectives

Road safety audits (RSAs) are becoming more prevalent as a low cost, pro-active approach to designing and maintaining roadways. Performing a RSA can lead to a reduction in conflicts and crashes, enhanced visibility (safety), reduction of project costs, and consideration of the needs of all modes and road users beyond the commonly considered motor vehicle. They can be performed during any part of the life of the road including feasibility, project assessment, final design, pre-opening, and existing. By utilizing a full-scale fixed-base driving simulator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the TOPS Lab is able to take the RSA process to the next level by creating virtual worlds from a rainy day on the freeway, to a foggy night in a parking lot. This exponentially aids the TOPS team to make recommendations to the client for improvements.

Driving simulator.

Performing a RSA on the Watertown Plank Road Interchange can give valuable information to the Engineers with regards to signage, run off the road crashes, and if altering one section negatively/positively affects adjacent segments. Drivers can virtually drive through the segments and researchers can evaluate how well the drivers navigate the selected section. This can aid in placement of variable speed limits signs, LED programmable message signs and traffic signals. Additionally, driver behavior on a given roadways segment can be monitored while the driver encounters merging/diverging vehicles, horizontal curves, bridges, and other geometric features such as intersections.