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Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-078
Date: November 2005

Driver Attitudes and Behaviors at Intersections and Potential Effectiveness of Engineering Countermeasures

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APPENDIX D. TABULAR SUMMARY OF THE FOCUS GROUP RESULTS

RESULTS TABLES TERMINOLOGY

For each scenario and countermeasure, the participants discuss a set of questions or themes. Key discussion points and opinions for each of these questions or themes are presented in table format after the text. Tables are organized into three columns containing information about:

  1. Group: The first column lists the set of respondents (based on age group or geographic location) that predominately held the opinion expressed.

  2. Opinion: The middle column summarizes the opinion or response.

  3. Strength: The last column presents an approximation of the proportion of respondents from the indicated group (first column) that shared the opinion.

Group identification

The group column uses the following terms individually or in combination to indicate which set of participants held a particular opinion.

Older Respondents in the older groups from all locations
Middle-aged Respondents in the middle-aged groups from all locations
Young females Respondents in the young female groups from all locations
Young males Respondents in the young male groups from all locations
All The opinion was generally held by all groups and no sub-set of groups stood out in terms of the number of participants sharing that opinion
Younger Respondents in both the young male and young female groups from all locations
City name Respondents from all groups at the indicated focus group location (Washington, DC, Chicago, or Seattle)

Strength Quantification

The strength of opinion was described using the following ordinal scale:

One < Few < Some < About Half < Many < Most < Almost All

These measurements should be taken as a general approximation, and in many cases are based on the focus group moderator’s impression of how many focus group participants shared a particular opinion. Where possible, the video recordings were used to generally confirm these magnitudes.

In some instances, more specific measurements are indicated (e.g., 1/3, 1/5, etc.). These measurements are based on more direct measurements, such as hand counting, or by specifically asking each participant.

In a few instances in which the same opinion was shared by different proportions of individuals from each group, the following syntax is used in the Group and Strength columns:

Table 12. Syntax for Group and Strength columns.

GroupOpinionStrength
  Group1 / Group2    Magnitude 1 / Magnitude 2

In this case, which group goes with which magnitude is indicated by the order of the terms relative to the "/" marks. In the example above, Group 1 goes with Magnitude 1, and Group 2 goes with Magnitude 2.

Scenario 1: Red–Light Running

Approaching a signalized intersection at speed, the light turns yellow. The driver is far enough away from the intersection that he/she can stop if he/she brakes hard, but is likely to enter the intersection on an early red if he/she accelerates.

Table 13. What are drivers most likely to do in this situation (scenario 1)?

GroupExternal FactorStrength
  Older
  • Stop at the intersection.
  Almost all
  Middle-aged
  • Go through.
  About half
  Young female
  • Go through.
  About half
  Young male
  • Go through.
  Three-quarters
  Young male
  • Go through, even if the light just turned red instead of yellow.
  Some

Table 14. What factors influence driver decisions to stop (scenario 1)?

GroupFactors That Incline Drivers To StopStrength
  Older
  • Stopping is their default strategy.
  Most
  Older
  • They make an automatic assumption that the lead vehicle will stop (even if this is unlikely).
  Most
  Older
  • The longer the light is yellow, the more inclined they are to stop.
  Some
  Middle-aged
  • The possibility of crashing into the lead vehicle if it decides to stop suddenly.
  Many
  Middle-aged
  • If they think that there could be red-light cameras or police in the area.
  Some
  Young female
  • Often use predetermined criteria based on several factors including roadway type (urban/rural), traffic volume, and pedestrian density.
  Many
  Young female
  • If lead vehicle looks like it will stop or turn right.
  Many
  Young male
  • If the lead vehicle looks like it will stop or turn at the last minute.
  Many
  Young male
  • Getting a ticket.
  Many
  Young male
  • Having to speed up too much to get through.
  Some
  Young male
  • Rush-hour synchronized traffic signals because they would just have to wait at the next light if they went through the current one.
  Some

Table 15. What factors influence driver decisions to go through (scenario 1)?

GroupFactors That Incline Drivers To Go ThroughStrength
  Older
  • The risk of getting stuck encroaching into the intersection if they cannot stop in time.
  Some
  Older
  • Not wanting to get rear-ended if they did stop.
  Many
  Middle-aged
  • Going through is the default strategy, unless they think that they do not have enough time to get through.
  Some
  Young female
  • Often used predetermined criteria based on several factors including roadway type (urban/rural), traffic volume, and pedestrian density.
  Many
  Young female
  • Being in a rush.
  Many
  Young female
  • Sparse traffic/off hours (evening/early morning).
  Some
  Young female
  • Frustration at traffic volume.
  Some
  Young female
  • If the vehicle behind them is following too closely.
  Some
  Young male
  • If the lead vehicle is going through.
  Many
  Young male
  • If they would otherwise have to slam on their brakes to stop.
  Many
  Young male
  • Being in a rush.
  Many
  Young male
  • Rush-hour synchronized traffic signals because if they miss the current light it will make them miss the timing for the next several lights.
  Some

Table 16. What are some additional external factors that influence driver decisions (scenario 1)?

GroupExternal FactorStrength
  Middle-aged
  and younger
  • Having passengers in their car, especially children.
  Many
  All
  • Type of person driving the car in front or behind them (specifically, whether they appear likely to go or stop on a yellow light).
  Some
  All
  • Age, type, and/or cost of vehicle in front.
  Some
  All
  • Transporting a dog (that is not restrained).
  Some

Table 17. Do drivers anticipate and plan a response for a dilemma-zone situation as they approach an intersection, or do they react on the fly to the yellow light and the corresponding driving conditions (scenario 1)?

GroupResponseStrength
  Older
  • Likely to plan ahead and anticipate a response.
  Most
  Middle-aged
  • Likely to rely on "gut" or instant decision without any prompting.
  Most
  Younger
  • Likely to plan ahead and anticipate a response.
  Many
  Younger
  • Likely to rely on "gut" or instant decision without any prompting.
  Some

Table 18. What other information do drivers use when making decisions regarding going through or stopping (scenario 1)?

GroupOther InformationStrength
  All
  • Pedestrian signal status to anticipate the light change.
  Some
  Middle-aged
  and younger
  • Familiarity with intersection, specifically if they know it is a long light or has a long yellow phase.
  Many
  Older
  • Lane markings (if they become solid).
  One

Table 19. Is going through the light ever a deliberate act (scenario 1)?

GroupFrequency and Reason WhyStrength
  Young males
  • Sometimes, just to "try to make it" or based on mood (aggressive, frustrated, or rushed).
  About
  half
  Young females
  • Sometimes, just to "try to make it" or based on mood (aggressive, frustrated, or rushed).
  About a
  quarter
  Older
  • Sometimes, just to "try to make it" or based on mood (aggressive, frustrated, or rushed).
  Few
  Middle-aged
  and younger
  • Sometimes, to avoid slamming on the brakes or being rear-ended.
  Many

Table 20. Is it ever the case that drivers do not notice the signal until it is too late to do anything but continue through the red? Do drivers ever try to stop in this case (scenario 1)?

GroupFrequency and Reason WhyStrength
  Young males
  • Rarely—but if distracted, they just go through.
  Some
  Other than
  young males
  • Rarely—decision to go is based on their assessment of how safe it is to stop.
  Some

Table 21. Complicating factors (scenario 1).

GroupFactorStrength
    Other Vehicles  
  All
  • They are concerned about oncoming vehicles turning left across their path.
  About a
  quarter
  Other than
  young males
  • They are concerned about cross traffic ready to enter the intersection at speed as soon as their light turns green.
  Many
    Congestion  
  All
  • Heavy congestion is a reason for not running lights.
  Many
  All
  • Long delays are a reason for running the light.
  Many
    Weather  
  Chicago
  • Ice and snow are a reason for caution but also for running the light if it means avoiding skidding or losing control.
  Some
  Seattle
  • Slick oil with rain is a reason for caution but also for running the light if it means avoiding skidding or losing control.
  Some
    Poor Visibility  
  Older/middle-aged
  • Poor visibility at night and in bad weather leads drivers to be more cautious and slow down.
  Many/Some
  All
  • Vision obstructions from trees, buildings, etc., make drivers more cautious.
  Many
    Glare  
  Older
  • Glare from certain types of lights (e.g., halogen) is problematic.
  Some
  Seattle, WA,
  younger
  • Glare from sun during the day can be problematic.
  Some
    Poor Traction  
  All
  • Poor traction makes drivers more likely to go through the intersection rather than risk skidding or losing control of their vehicle.
  Many
    Terrain  
  Seattle
  • Hills can obstruct their view.
  Some
  Seattle
  • Hills would prompt those driving a stick-shift to go through a light to avoid having to stop uphill.
  Some
    Other Factors  
  All
  • The presence of pedestrians would prompt caution, especially at night when they are harder to see.
  Many
  Middle-aged
  and younger
  • The presence of red-light cameras or police would prompt drivers to be more cautious.
  Some
 
  • Proximity to school zones leads drivers to use "extreme caution" at intersections.
  Some
  All
  • Their vehicle type and that of the lead driver has different effects based on the vehicle’s ease of stopping (e.g., less with SUV), how much it obstructs vision, and how new or expensive it is.
  Some

Table 22. What are driver attitudes regarding red-light running (scenario 1)?

GroupAttitudeStrength
  All
  • Those involved in intersection crashes or near-misses view red-light running as being much more dangerous than other drivers did.
  Some
  Older
  • It is a serious problem and something that too many people do without regard for the consequences.
  Most
  Middle-aged
  • Although they typically run yellow lights and sometimes red lights, they do not view their actions as contributing to the problem of true red-light running—that is something others do.
  Many
  Younger
  • It is more of a monetary than safety issue, with their primary concern to avoid traffic tickets.
  Most
  Younger
  • Avoiding getting a ticket is like a game, which prompts them to avoid intersections where they are more likely to get a ticket.
  Many

Table 23. What do drivers believe are the consequences of running red lights (scenario 1)?

GroupConsequenceStrength
  All
  • Tickets and expensive fines.
  About
  half
  All
  • Getting into a crash and causing injuries to pedestrians, passengers, themselves, or other drivers.
  About
  half
  Middle-aged
  and young
  females
  • Injuries to passengers.
  Some
  Older
  • Injuries to themselves.
  Some
  All
  • Being "at fault" and liable for any crashes.
  Some

Table 24. Do drivers’ beliefs about the consequences come into play in their decision process (scenario 1)?

GroupImpacts of ConsequencesStrength
  All
  • The potential for crashes, hitting pedestrians or getting hit by other drivers makes drivers more cautious and causes them to alter their driving.
  Many
  Older
  • They are not influenced by the possibility of getting a ticket.
  Most
  Middle-aged
  and younger
  • The presence of cameras and police would cause them to slow down and be more careful.
  Many
  Young males
  and females
  • Getting a ticket had previously produced only a transient improvement of their safety behaviors, and they often adapt by avoiding intersections where they think they might get a ticket while continuing to run red lights at other intersections.
  Most
  Younger
  • They view red-light tickets as simply the cost of driving and would not try to change their behavior.
  Few
  All
  • The possibility of hitting pedestrians and especially children causes them to be more cautious and slow down.
  Many
  Middle-aged
  and young
  females
  • The are most concerned about the impact of their actions on the safety of their passengers, especially young children.
  
  Older
  • Concerns about being "at fault" in a potential crash causes them to drive more safely.
  Some

Table 25. How does experience with critical events (e.g., crashes, near-misses) impact their decisions, attitudes, beliefs, etc. (scenario 1)?

GroupImpacts of ExperienceStrength
  All
  • Impacts were strong but very situation-specific, with increased caution not generalizing to other situations.
  Many
  All
  • Serious crashes involving family or friends cause them to be more cautious in similar situations.
  Some
  Older
  • They are less likely to see themselves as being "at fault," which makes them less likely to change their behavior.
  Some

Table 26. To what extent is red-light running behavior impacted by perceived social norms (scenario 1)?

GroupImpacts of Social NormsStrength
  Older and
  middle-aged
  • They are neither concerned about nor influenced by social norms.
  Most
  Younger
  • They could be influenced by peers to run a red light.
  Few
  Younger
  • They become more cautious and less likely to go through the light if they are driving with their parents.
  Many
  Middle-aged
  women
  • They become more cautious with their older children in the car because they want to serve as a good role model.
  Few

Table 27. To what extent is the act of going through the light under their control (scenario 1)?

GroupAspects of Perceived ControlStrength
  All
  • Going through the light is not under their control.
  Many
  All
  • What they perceive to be deliberately short yellow-phase durations makes it beyond their control.
  Many
  Older
  • Other vehicles coming up behind them too quickly make it beyond their control.
  Many
  Chicago, IL,
  and Seattle, WA
  • Slippery roadway conditions make it beyond their control.
  About
  half
  Younger
  • They are the most likely to take responsibility for their red-light-running behavior.
  Some

Table 28. To what degree, if any, does habit (e.g., "I don’t think about it, I just always do it that way") affect whether or not drivers run a red light (scenario 1)?

GroupImpact of HabitStrength
  All
  • Going through a red light is viewed as something not done simply out of habit.
  Almost
  all

Scenario 2: Left Turns at Busy Intersections

Stopped in the middle of an intersection, waiting to make a left turn on a busy street; an oncoming car is also waiting to turn left and makes it difficult to see other vehicles approaching in the next lane. There is no dedicated turning lane and no dedicated turn signal; cars are waiting behind to also turn left (or go straight).

Table 29. What are drivers most likely to do in this situation (scenario 2)?

GroupActionStrength
  All
  • Wait for the light to change to yellow or red to get some protection from oncoming traffic.
  About
  half
  Older and
  middle-aged
  • Avoid the left turn altogether by going straight, turning right, or planning a different route.
  About
  half
  Young females
  • Avoid the left turn altogether by going straight, turning right, or planning a different route.
  Some
  Young males/
  females
  • Barge their way into the oncoming lane and force oncoming vehicles to slow.
  About
  1/4 /
  Few
  All
  • Wait for the oncoming vehicle to turn, then go if there is no other oncoming traffic.
 

Table 30. What steps do drivers take in making the turns (scenario 2)?

GroupActionStrength
  Intersection Entry
  All
  • Advance directly to the middle of the intersection without hesitation, regardless of how much traffic is coming.
  Most
  All
  • Wait at the stop line until there’s no traffic coming, then inch forward.
  Few
  Vehicle Positioning Within the Intersection  
  Older,
  middleaged,
  and young
  females
  • If they were going to turn, they would inch forward but stay straight in their lane.
  Most
  Young males
  • Position themselves in the lane of opposing traffic or slanted toward opposing traffic (yet protected by the oncoming turning vehicle).
  Most
  Young females
  and middle-
  aged
  • Position themselves in the lane of opposing traffic or slanted toward opposing traffic (yet protected by the oncoming turning vehicle).
  About a
  quarter
  Decision to Turn  
  All
  • They prefer to wait until no traffic is coming and there are no cars in sight.
  Most
  All
  • Look for an acceptable gap in oncoming traffic.
  About
  half
  All
  • Wait until the light changes yellow or red.
  About
  half
  Acceleration  
  All
  • Check for pedestrians before initiating the turn.
  Almost
  all
  All
  • Accelerate quickly to get out of the intersection as soon as possible.
  Almost
  all
  All
  • They feel uncomfortable when they go because they are concerned that they missed something or misjudged the gap.
  Many

Table 31. How do drivers decide (what steps are involved) whether or not a gap in traffic is sufficient (scenario 2)?

GroupResponseStrength
    How Decision Is Made  
  All
  • It depends on the speed and distance of oncoming traffic.
  Most
  All
  • They watch oncoming cars go by and try to gauge the time it takes to close the distance between themselves and the oncoming cars.
  Some
  All
  • They judge the gaps until they feel comfortable with enough distance to make a move.
  Some
  All
  • It is a "gut" decision.
  Some
    Factors That Directly Affect Gap Judgment  
  All
  • Familiarity with the intersection increases the likelihood that they will accept a smaller gap.
  Some
  Older/young
  males
  • The presence of passengers makes them more cautious and more willing to wait longer for a safe gap.
  Many/
  Some

Table 32. What other information or considerations come into play (scenario 2)?

GroupActionStrength
  All
  • They take advantage of the oncoming vehicle making its left turn to get a better view of oncoming traffic.
  Most
  All
  • They watch out for oncoming vehicles potentially going straight through from behind the oncoming turning vehicle, even when light is yellow or red.
  Some
  All
  • They look for turn signals in oncoming traffic behind the oncoming turning vehicle to make sure there will be no conflict when they try to turn—however, they do not always trust the signal.
  Some

Table 33. What are some of the strategies that drivers use in this situation (scenario 2)?

GroupActionStrength
  All
  • They try to make eye contact with oncoming drivers.
  Some
  All
  • They look through the windows of the cars to see if they can get a better view.
  Some
  All
  • They make sure they are out far enough into the intersection so the other cars will see them and have to let them go when the light turns yellow or red.
  Some
  All
  • They get passengers to "spot" for them.
  Some

Table 34. Complicating factors (scenario 2).

GroupFactorStrength
    Other Vehicles  
  All
  • They do not care about the cars behind them; however, about half still have strategies for addressing following vehicles in one way or another.
  About
  half
  All
  • They ignore following vehicles that start honking.
  About
  half
  Older/young
  females
  • They are concerned about following vehicles and go out of their way to accommodate them (e.g., by moving up far enough so that following vehicles can pull out and go straight).
  Many
  All
  • Oncoming vehicles behind the turning vehicle are a source of concern and lead to extra caution in case they try to get through the intersection in conflict with the driver’s vehicle.
  Many
    Congestion  
  All
  • Congestion prompts drivers to go through the light to avoid waiting through another light cycle.
  Some
    Pedestrians and Bicyclists  
  All
  • They always check crosswalks.
  Many
  Older
  • They also watch for skateboarders, roller bladers, and scooters.
  Some
  Older and
  middle-aged
  • They are concerned about pedestrians and bicyclists not following the rules, and being difficult to see at night.
  Few
    Night Driving
  All
  • Reduced visibility causes them to be more cautious and willing to wait longer to be sure that it is safe to go through the light.
  Many
  All
  • They are more careful because of the increased number of drunk drivers on the road during this time.
  Some
  All
  • Night driving also has benefits because oncoming vehicle headlamps can be seen from farther away.
  Some
    Glare  
  Older
  • Glare from oncoming lights at night makes them more cautious.
  Some
  Younger
  • Glare from oncoming lights reduces their ability to judge the speed of the oncoming traffic, sometimes making vehicles appear closer or further away than they actually are.
  Some
  All
  • Having the sun in their eyes causes them to be more conservative in their gap judgments.
  Some
    Terrain  
  Seattle
  • Being on a hill would prompt them to wait for the light to turn red because they are less visible to oncoming traffic.
  Some
    Low—Traction Conditions  
  All
  • They are more cautious in the rain, ice, and snow because oncoming traffic would have a harder time stopping.
  Many
  Young males in
  Washington,
  DC
  • They do not think that weather is a factor unless it impacts visibility.
  Most
    Vehicle Type  
  All
  • Turning in this scenario depends on the type vehicle that both you and the oncoming driver are driving.
  Many
  All
  • Drivers of small cars have greater difficulty seeing the roadway (especially if the oncoming vehicle is a large SUV) and therefore have to be more cautious.
  Some
  All
  • Driving powerful cars with quick acceleration would make them more likely to accept smaller gap sizes.
  Some
  All
  • Drivers of large vehicles find this situation easier to deal with because they have a better view of the roadway.
  Some

Scenario 3: Turning Left onto a Major Road with Moderate Traffic

A vehicle is stopped on a minor road with a stop sign, waiting to turn left onto a major road (that has no stop sign); a consistent flow of vehicles going at high speeds is crossing in both directions on the major road.

Table 35. What are drivers most likely to do in this situation (scenario 3)?

GroupActionStrength
  All
  • Make the turn.
  More
  than half
  All, especially
  older and young
  females
  • Abandon the left turn and make a right turn instead, followed by the necessary adjustments to get back on course.
  Less
  than half

Table 36. What steps do drivers take in completing the action (scenario 3)?

GroupActionStrength
    Viewing Traffic  
  All
  • They check for pedestrians and creep forward slightly to get a better view.
  Almost
  all
  All
  • They do not go any further than the crosswalk until they had a chance to assess the situation and get a sense of the speed and timing of the traffic.
  Many
    Gap Judgment  
  All
  • They alternate between looking in both directions, starting with the right-going direction.
  Most
  All
  • They look at right-going traffic exclusively until there is a safe gap then look towards left-going traffic.
  Few
    Strategies for Turning  
  All
  • If there is a gap on the left but none on the right, they pull out after the first right-going car goes by and wait in the inside right-going lane until there is a sufficient gap in left-going traffic.
  Almost
  half
  All
  • They pull out into the outside right-going lane so that other cars would have to let them in.
  Some
  All
  • They wait until there are sufficient gaps in both directions.
  Almost
  half
  All
  • They wait (or hope) for a nearby traffic light to stop traffic in either direction so that they could have a larger gap.
  Some
    Making the Turn  
  All
  • They go into the outside left-going lane to avoid the car in the inside left-going lane coming up behind them too quickly.
  About
  half
  All
  • They wait until they are certain that they could at least get in "clear" past the inside left-going vehicle.
  About
  half
  All
  • They go into the inside left-going lane and then quickly signal and get over into the outside lane.
  Some
  All
  • They accelerate as quickly as possible to get up to speed with the car in the inside left-going lane.
  Some

Table 37. What is the decisionmaking process (scenario 3)?

GroupActionStrength
    Information-Gathering Strategies  
  All
  • They alternately look back and forth and judge gaps in both directions, starting with vehicles in the right-going outside lane then the left-going inside lane, spending about equal time on each direction.
  Most
  All
  • They look exclusively at right-going traffic until there is a safe gap, and then look at left-going traffic for a safe gap, and also double-check the gap in right-going traffic before going.
  Some
  All
  • They split up the task by going into the middle of the roadway as an interim step, which allows them to focus on only one direction at a time.
  Some
  All
  • They focus on the car in the inside left–going lane, once they determine that the gaps in both directions are sufficient.
  Most
  All
  • They also focus on the car in the outside left–going lane, either because they want to get out of the way of the left-going inside vehicle or to turn directly into that lane.
  Some
    Decisionmaking  
  All, but
  especially
  young males
  • They make a "gut" decision to turn, based on experience and by factoring in speed and distance conditions, in addition to their car’s ability to accelerate.
  Some
  All
  • They become less patient as time passes and are more likely to make rash decisions.
  Some
  All, but
  especially
  young males
  • They think through the decision to turn and are very cautious, factoring in speed and distance conditions, in addition to their car’s ability to accelerate.
  Some
  All
  • They assume that other vehicles will slow down to avoid conflicts, but they also often looked for confirmation of that assumption before acting.
  Some
  All
  • They are concerned that crossing traffic might change lanes.
  Few

Table 38. How do drivers decide (what steps are involved) whether or not a gap in traffic is sufficient? What factors are relevant (e.g., speeds, distance to cross, weather) (scenario 3)?

GroupFactorStrength
  All
  • They identify a safe gap based on speed and distance.
  Many
  All
  • They instinctively know how fast cars typically go, and based on that, they wait for a gap that they feel they can make it into.
  Many
  Middle–aged
  • They look beyond the nearest vehicles for safe gaps farther down the road.
  One
  All
  • They look for larger gaps in left–going traffic because it takes them longer to get there.
  Some
  All
  • Visibility factors, nighttime, glare, and hills affect gap judgments.
  Many
  All
  • Being impatient makes them more likely to make bad judgments about acceptable gap size and the distance of approaching cars.
  About
  1/5

Table 39. What size gaps are drivers comfortable with (scenario 3)?

GroupSizeStrength
  All
  • No vehicles in sight.
  Few
  All
  • One–car length.
  Few
  All
  • Somewhere between one-car length and no vehicles in sight.
  Most
  Young males
  • They are generally willing to accept smaller gaps than other drivers.
  Many

Table 40. What external factors make the task of deciding when to turn more complicated/difficult or more demanding (scenario 3)?

GroupFactorsStrength
  All
  • The presence of additional lanes in each direction because drivers have to watch for cars changing lanes.
  Many
  All
  • Obstructions along the curb make it harder to see (e.g., parked cars or vans, buses, buildings, shrubbery), and sometimes force them to inch out further than they are comfortable with.
  Many

Table 41. Complicating factors (scenario 3).

GroupFactorStrength
    Other Vehicles  
  All
  • The presence of other drivers behind them is not a significant factor in this scenario.
  Many
    Congestion  
  All
  • They are willing to wait a relatively long time for a safe gap.
  Many
  All
  • The longer they wait, and the more impatient they become, the more likely they are to make bad judgments about the acceptable size of gaps and the distance of approaching cars.
  About
  1/5
    Pedestrians and Bicyclists  
  All
  • They are more concerned about pedestrians and bicyclists in the crosswalk that they would be turning into than the one right in front of them because drivers feel that it is easy to see them there.
  Most
    Night Driving  
  All
  • They have mixed views about the impacts of nighttime because, while it makes it harder to judge the gap, it is also easier to see oncoming cars from far away.
  Most
  All
  • They feel that twilight is the worst time because other cars are hard to see and they do not often put on their lights.
  Many
    Glare  
  All
  • They will wait longer due to headlight glare in the country but not in the city, where glare is not as bad.
  Many
  All
  • If glare from the sun is bad they might not make the turn at all.
  Some
    Low-Traction Conditions  
  All
  • They are concerned about slippery conditions, including whether oncoming traffic will be able to stop or slow down.
  Many
  All
  • They are concerned about having problems accelerating, skidding, or "fishtailing" if they make the turn too quickly.
  Some

Scenario 4: Rear-End Crashes

Approaching an intersection at speed, the car in front stops suddenly when the light changes to yellow; the driver needs to slam on the brakes to avoid a rear-end collision.

Table 42. How many drivers have been involved as the following vehicle in a rear-end crash or had a near-miss at an intersection (scenario 4)?

GroupNumberStrength
  All
  • They have been involved in crashes or near-misses as both the lead vehicle and the following vehicle.
  More than 1/6
  All
  • They have been involved in a near-miss as either the lead vehicle or the following vehicle.
  More than 1/3

It should be noted that although drivers responded with the frequencies presented above when directly asked about their involvement in rear-end crashes/near-misses, a far greater proportion of participants discussed these issues as if they had also encountered these situations.

Table 43. What were the circumstances that caused the incident to happen (scenario 4)?

GroupCircumstanceStrength
    Not Paying Attention  
  All
  • They admit to not paying close enough attention to the road or car ahead.
  Some
  Younger
  • They have had near-misses or collisions as a result of using a cell phone or playing with the radio.
  Many
    Tailgating  
  All
  • They experienced crashes or near-misses when driving too close to the car in front of them.
  Some
    Making Faulty Assumptions About the Traffic Flow  
  All
  • They have gotten into rear-end collisions as a result of incorrect assumptions made about the traffic flow, such as that a lead vehicle will go through the intersection when it stops instead or by getting cut off by other vehicles.
  Some
    Going Too Fast  
  All
  • They have had rear-end collisions because they did not slow down soon enough after a lead vehicle slowed abruptly.
  Some
  Middle-aged
  and younger
  • They have had rear-end collisions because they were late and did not sufficiently slow down as they approached the intersection.
  Some

Table 44. How closely do respondents typically follow other vehicles? What factors determine how closely drivers follow other vehicles (scenario 4)?

GroupResponseStrength
    How Closely They Follow  
  All
  • Their chosen following distance is based on rules of thumb, such as the 2-second rule or other heuristics.
  Many
  Older and
  young females
  • They generally leave "ample" room between themselves and the lead vehicle.
  Many
    Deciding Factors  
  All
  • The distance at which they follow other vehicles depends on the types of vehicles that they and others are driving.
  Some
  All
  • They leave more space when driving an SUV or other vehicle that stops more slowly.
  Some
  Young males
  • They leave more space when driving a new car.
  Few
  All
  • The fact that they will be liable if they rear-end the lead vehicle prompts them to leave more space.
  Many

Table 45. What are some strategies for avoiding rear-end conflict situations (scenario 4)?

GroupActionStrength
    As Following Vehicle  
  All
  • They hit their brakes as soon as they see any break lights go on in front of them.
  Most
  All
  • They look to see if there are other reasons why the lead car is slowing or stopping (such as the presence of pedestrians or a hazard on the road).
  Few
  All
  • They try to anticipate the situation using a variety of different methods.
  Many
  All
  • They leave more stopping distance in the front of them.
  Some
  All, but
  especially older
  • They slow down as they approach the intersection.
  Some
    As Lead Vehicle  
  All
  • They look in the rearview mirror at the following car more frequently.
  Most
  All
  • They pump their brakes ahead of time to warn other drivers that they will be stopping soon.
  Some

Table 46. How do drivers detect or anticipate when the lead vehicle will slow or stop (scenario 4)?

GroupActionStrength
  All
  • They prepare to stop when the light changes and start watching the lead vehicle to see whether it will slow down or speed up to get through the light.
  Most
  All
  • They detect that the car in front of them is stopping because the brake lights capture their attention.
  Almost
  all
  Younger
  • They sometimes delay their decision to stop (although they will slow down) until they determine whether or not the lead vehicle is going through the intersection.
  Many
  All
  • They use various strategies to anticipate the light change and become more alert or prepare to stop before it does.
  Some

Table 47. What are drivers likely to do in response to this situation (scenario 4)?

GroupActionStrength
  All
  • They would get into the inside or another lane if possible.
  Many
  All
  • They would go up onto the curb or shoulder if they could not stop on time.
  Many
  All
  • They would already be slowing down as they approached the intersection and would likely be able to stop in time.
  Some
  All
  • They would look behind them to see if they might get rearended if they stop too suddenly.
  About a
  quarter

Table 48. Complicating factors (scenario 4).

GroupFactorStrength
    Lead Vehicle  
  All
  • They try to gauge how the driver in front of them drives as they go along and try to anticipate how they might behave based on the driver’s age and vehicle type.
  Some
  Younger
  • They leave more room if the lead driver appears likely to stop.
  Some
  All
  • They assume that heavier vehicles are likely to go through the light.
  Few
    Congestion  
  All
  • Congestion makes them tailgate more closely during rush hour.
  Some
    Poor Visibility  
  All
  • They do not think that this is a factor because the situation requires attention to their immediate surroundings, which would not be affected by poor visibility.
  Some
    Glare  
  All
  • They leave more space in front of them if glare from the sun makes it hard to see.
  Few
    Low-Traction Conditions  
  All
  • Slippery conditions are not a big factor because they do not think that they have any choice but to try to stop suddenly in this scenario.
  Some
  All
  • They leave more space between themselves and the car in front of them when it was raining.
  Few
    Terrain  
  All
  • They anticipate that it is more difficult to stop while going downhill and start breaking sooner.
  Some

COUNTERMEASURES

The following issues were addressed for each countermeasure:

  • Would implementing this countermeasure improve safety?
  • What are some of the implementation issues?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the countermeasure?

Countermeasure 1.1: Red-Light Camera

Table 49. Would implementing this countermeasure improve safety (countermeasure 1.1)?

GroupOpinionStrength
  Washington,
  DC, and
  Chicago, IL,
  older
  • They are strongly opposed to red-light cameras and do not feel that they improve safety.
  Almost
  all
  Seattle, WA,
  older
  • They think that it is a great safety improvement.
  Almost
  all
  Washington,
  DC, and
  Chicago, IL,
  young males
  • They think that red-light cameras work and improve safety, based on their direct experience with them or from what they hear or read about them.
  Almost
  all
  Seattle, WA,
  young males
  • They are more reluctant to admit that they would improve safety and they did not trust them.
  Most
  Middle-aged
  and young
  females
  • They are in favor of the cameras and feel that they help create safer situations since they had changed their own behavior in response to the cameras.
  About
  half

Table 50. What are some of the implementation issues (countermeasure 1.1)?

GroupIssueStrength
  All
  • For cameras to be effective, drivers would need to be educated about them by either posting signs where they are located or through public service announcement campaigns.
  Many
  All
  • Cameras should only be placed at dangerous intersections or places where many people run red lights.
  Some
  All
  • Cameras would be ineffective with habitual red-light runners or drunk drivers because these drivers blatantly disregard the law and would probably disregard the cameras as well.
  Many
  All
  • They have mixed views on the effectiveness of periodically changing the camera locations.
  Many
  All
  • Cameras might be susceptible to vandalism if they are positioned within reach of the ground.
  Few

Table 51. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages (countermeasure 1.1)?

GroupIssueStrength
    Advantages  
  All
  • Safety is the primary advantage noted.
  Many
  All
  • Cameras would free up police officers for other activities.
  Some
    Disadvantages  
  All
  • They do not trust cameras to work properly or as described (that they only take a picture of a driver entering the intersection after the light has turned red).
  Most
  All
  • Drivers believe that the yellow-phase duration is timed for maximizing revenue, not safety or traffic flow.
  Many
  All
  • Cameras give the impression that "big brother" is watching you.
  Many
  All
  • If they are wrongly accused, they would be unable to contest it because the photo provides indisputable evidence.
  Some
  Older
  • Younger respondents would benefit and learn more from the effect of being pulled over by actual police officers versus just getting a ticket in the mail.
  Many
  All
  • Cameras could cause more rear-end collisions because people might slam on their brakes if they saw a camera or a flash.
  Many
  All
  • Cameras could slow traffic flow.
  Some
  All
  • There is a possibility of wrongfully getting a ticket if someone else is driving your car.
  Some

Table 52. What would it take to make red-light cameras acceptable (countermeasure 1.1)?

GroupIssueStrength
  All
  • Fairness is critical—those turning left in the middle of intersections when the light turns red and those making right turns on a red should not get tickets.
  Many
  All
  • Cameras are fine if their goal is to improve safety, but not to raise money, which is what they believe is currently the primary purpose of cameras.
  Some
  All
  • A "three strikes, and you’re out program" for drivers that are unfamiliar with the cameras.
  Some
  All
  • It would be helpful if the camera picture could identify the driver so that the vehicle owners could determine if the ticket was the result of someone else driving their vehicle.
  Some
  All
  • There should be a way to contest the ticket because of extenuating circumstances (e.g., slippery roads), which are not adequately captured in the camera picture.
  Few
  All
  • Cameras would be more acceptable in high-priority locations such as intersections near schools.
  Few

Countermeasure 1.2: High-Visibility Traffic Lights

Table 53. Would implementing this countermeasure improve safety (countermeasure 1.2)?

GroupOpinionStrength
  Older
  • It would be a welcome help to these drivers in addition to being effective for improving safety in general.
  Most
  Young males
  • It would not help since lack of conspicuity was not the reason they go through red lights.
  Most
  Middle-aged
  and young
  females
  • It might be helpful.
  About
  half
  Middle-aged
  and young
  females
  • It would not apply to them.
  About
  half

Table 54. What are some of the implementation issues (countermeasure 1.2)?

GroupIssueStrength
  All
  • This would work best in suburban or rural areas because it might otherwise get lost in all of the other downtown lights.
  Many
  All
  • It might help in the midst of the other downtown lights.
  Few
  All
  • This would be good at high-crash intersections, but not at all intersections.
  Some
  All
  • This might not be useful when the light was blocked by an SUV or a big truck; increasing the overall number of traffic lights (e.g., in different positions) might be more effective.
  Some
  All
  • There is some concern about the visibility of the yellow light next to the bright yellow background.
  Some

Table 55. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages (countermeasure 1.2)?

GroupIssueStrength
    Advantages  
  All
  • Safety is the primary advantage noted.
  Many
    Disadvantages  
  Middle-aged
  and young
  males
  • The double red might be confusing and seemed expensive.
  Some

Countermeasure 1.3: Advance Traffic Light Warning Signs

Table 56. Would implementing this countermeasure improve safety (countermeasure 1.3)?

GroupOpinionStrength
  Middle-aged
  and younger
  • It would be effective overall.
  About
  1/3
  Older
  • It would be helpful and improve safety in most situations, especially in high-speed areas.
  Almost
  all
  Middle-aged
  and younger
  • It would not be effective because of lack of trust in the accuracy of the warning’s timing.
  Some

Table 57. What are some of the implementation issues (countermeasure 1.3)?

GroupIssueStrength
  Middle-aged
  and younger
  • Drivers do not trust the sign to accurately take into account their actual travel speeds.
  Some
  Middle-aged
  and younger
  • Drivers might not see it or might confuse it with other signage (e.g., construction signs).
  Some
  Middle-aged
  and younger
  • Drivers might ignore the sign once they get used to it.
  Some
  All
  • It would be more effective in rural and suburban areas or on roads where the speed limit is above 56 km/h (35 mi/h).
  Almost
  all
  All
  • It would be helpful in areas of low visibility, on curves and hills, and in fog or other bad weather.
  Some

Table 58. Advantages and disadvantages (countermeasure 1.3).

GroupIssueStrength
    Advantages  
  All
  • Safety is the primary advantage noted.
  Many
    Disadvantages  
  Young males
  • Some drivers might actually speed up in response to the warning if they felt they were close enough to go through the intersection before the light changed.
  Some
  All
  • It might give drivers a false sense of security, be distracting/confusing, or be hard to see by the side of the road.
  Few

Countermeasure 1.4: Intersection Collision-Warning Systems

Table 59. Would implementing this countermeasure improve safety (countermeasure 1.4)?

GroupOpinionStrength
  Washington,
  DC
  • They think it would work.
  About
  3/4
  Chicago, IL,
  and Seattle, WA
  • They are receptive to the basic idea.
  About
  half
  All
  • They think that drivers would definitely stop if they saw this.
  Many

Table 60. What are some of the implementation issues (countermeasure 1.4)?

GroupIssueStrength
  All
  • It has potential in a different form but is "too much" in its current implementation.
  Some
  All
  • Having fewer lights or eliminating the lights embedded in the pavement would be an improvement.
  Many
  All
  • Placing the warning lights before intersections, adding sounds, or using yellow lights might make it more effective.
  Some
  All
  • It would require a big campaign to let everyone know what it is and what drivers should do when they see it.
  Some
  All
  • There would be skepticism over whether the technology actually works and if it would provide an early enough warning to stop in time.
  Some
  All
  • It might be confusing to drivers and they may not know what to do.
  Some

Table 61. Advantages and disadvantages (countermeasure 1.4).

GroupIssueStrength
    Advantages  
  All
  • Safety is the primary advantage noted.
  Many
    Disadvantages  
  All
  • The signals and flashing lights might "freak out" certain drivers and actually cause more crashes if they stopped short.
  Many
  All
  • They are concerned that so much taxpayer money would be spent addressing the actions of irresponsible drivers and lawbreakers—even if it was to protect others.
  Many
  All
  • This solves the wrong problem and does not address the drivers that would go through the light.
  Few
  All
  • It might make some drivers lazy and more likely to depend on these to look out for them.
  Some

Table 62. How does this system compare to an in-vehicle warning system (countermeasure 1.4)?

GroupIssueStrength
  All
  • Drivers are less receptive to the idea of having the warning system in their automobiles.
  Most
  All
  • Unlike seatbelts, this countermeasure would not be useful unless everybody has one.
  Most
  All
  • This system would have the same impact in terms of startling some drivers, but at least with the infrastructure-based system, drivers would have a clear indication of why the lights are flashing.
  Most
  All
  • It would increase the costs of their car.
  Few
  All
  • It would be less effective because it might not warn the redlight runner, as is the case with the intersection-based system.
  Few
  Older
  • There should be sound in addition to lights.
  Few

Countermeasure 2.1: Protected left-turn lights

Table 63. Would implementing this countermeasure improve safety (countermeasure 2.1)?

GroupOpinionStrength
  All
  • These are very effective at improving safety, and drivers would like to see them at all busy intersections.
  Almost
  All

Table 64. What are some of the implementation issues (countermeasure 2.1)?

GroupIssueStrength
  All
  • They sometimes have problems if the traffic signal has both a green light and a green arrow at the same time.
  Few
  All
  • The light could be improved by including a sensor that only activates the turn arrow when someone is in the turning lane.
  Few
  All
  • Stopping pedestrians from crossing when drivers had the green arrow would be an improvement.
  Few

Countermeasure 3.1: Automatic gap detection

Table 65. Would implementing this countermeasure improve safety (countermeasure 3.1)?

GroupOpinionStrength
  All
  • This is a good idea and would improve safety.
  About
  1/3
  Chicago, IL,
  young females
  • It would be helpful and it makes sense.
  Almost
  all
  All
  • Drivers are concerned about how trustworthy the system is and would prefer to judge gap safety "with their own eyes."
  Many
  All
  • They would prefer other countermeasures, such as traffic light, traffic island, or "suicide" lane.
  Some

Table 66. What are some of the implementation issues (countermeasure 3.1)?

GroupIssueStrength
  All
  • This approach would be most effective if it only addressed the oncoming traffic from the right and would be confusing if it addressed both directions.
  About
  half
  All
  • They are concerned that the timing would not work.
  Many
  All
  • They are uncertain if it takes into account different weather conditions and how fast their car can accelerate.
  Some
  All
  • The system should be designed to accommodate the lowest common denominator.
  Some
  All
  • The warning should be accompanied by a continuous or contingent blinking light indicator on the crossing road so that oncoming traffic would be notified that someone might be turning in front of them.
  Few
  All
  • The warning signal should blink when it is safe to turn instead of when it is unsafe.
  Few
  All
  • The sign would be too difficult to read because the text is too small or too verbose.
  Few
  All
  • The flashing yellow is confusing, and drivers might not understand it.
  Some

Table 67. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages (countermeasure 3.1)?

GroupIssueStrength
    Advantages  
  All
  • Safety is the primary advantage noted.
  Many
    Disadvantages  
  All
  • Drivers might get lazy or dependent upon the sign and not check the actual gap properly.
  Some
  All
  • There is no need for it, or drivers are likely to ignore it in favor of their own judgments.
  Some

Table 68. Gap advisory system (countermeasure 3.1).

GroupIssueStrength
  Washington,
  DC
  • They are receptive to the idea and think that it would be helpful.
  Many
  Chicago, IL,
  and Seattle
  • They think that it would not help or make a difference to drivers.
  Almost
  All

Countermeasure 3.2: Synchronized Adjacent Traffic Signals

Table 69. Would implementing this countermeasure improve safety (countermeasure 3.2)?

GroupOpinionStrength
  All
  • It is an effective approach and will improve safety at the intersection.
  About
  3/4
  All
  • It would be more effective than automated gap detection.
  Many

Table 70. What are some of the implementation issues (countermeasure 3.2)?

GroupIssueStrength
  All
  • It would be even better if sensors judged when it was needed so the traffic wouldn’t get needlessly backed up or stopped.
  Many

Table 71. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages (countermeasure 3.2)?

GroupIssueStrength
    Advantages  
  All
  • Safety is the primary advantage noted.
  Many
    Disadvantages  
  All
  • Drivers would still have to be aware of people turning on red lights at the adjacent intersections or coming from driveways and other side streets.
  Few

Countermeasure 4.1: Intersection Rumble Strips

Table 72. Would implementing this countermeasure improve safety (countermeasure 4.1)?

GroupOpinionStrength
  All
  • This is an effective countermeasure and it would improve safety.
  About
  half
  All
  • This is not an effective countermeasure because the potential problems outweigh the benefits (see below).
  About
  half
  All
  • It would help drivers refocus their attention on the road and on the intersection ahead.
  Many
  All
  • It does not address the situation because fatigue and distraction are not the primary problems.
  Some

Table 73. What are some of the implementation issues (countermeasure 4.1)?

GroupIssueStrength
  All
  • It would not be necessary at every intersection, but helpful at dangerous intersections.
  Many
  All
  • Drivers would get use to them, and they would lose their effectiveness if they were at every intersection.
  Most
  All
  • Rumble strips are better suited for the sides of highways and the approaches to toll booths because they are more frequently encountered in those situations.
  Some
  All
  • It might make people slow down, which they should not always do in intersections, especially when the light is green.
  Some
  All
  • It implicitly sends the message to drivers that it is acceptable to be distracted.
  Few

Table 74. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages (countermeasure 4.1)?

GroupIssueStrength
    Advantages  
  All
  • Safety is the primary advantage noted.
  Many
    Disadvantages  
  All
  • It would be very annoying because the rumble strips are loud and would rattle their cars or make them think they have a flat tire.
  Many
  All
  • It will cause additional wear and tear on their cars and tires.
  Some

Countermeasure 4.2: Improved Skid Resistance

Table 75. Would implementing this countermeasure improve safety (countermeasure 4.2)?

GroupOpinionStrength
  All
  • It would be effective and would improve safety.
  Most
  All except
  Washington,
  DC, older
  • It is preferable to rumble strips, and it would be more effective in improving safety than rumble strips.
  Most
  All
  • A combination of intersection rumble strips and improved skid resistance would be the most effective implementation.
  Many

Table 76. What are some of the implementation issues (countermeasure 4.2)?

GroupIssueStrength
  All
  • It would be important that this countermeasure be consistently implemented so that drivers could tell when it is present in case they must rely on it.
  Few
  All
  • It should not be at every intersection, only at dangerous ones.
  Many
  All
  • The skid-resistant treatment would have to start back far enough so that it would be available for all the drivers that need to stop—otherwise, lead vehicles on the treatment would stop more quickly than following vehicles not on the treatment, making rear-end collisions more likely.
  Some

Table 77. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages (countermeasure 4.2)?

GroupIssueStrength
    Advantages  
  All
  • Safety is the primary advantage noted.
  Many
  All
  • It would work well on snow and ice.
  Some
    Disadvantages  
  All
  • Drivers might come to rely on it, which might falsely shorten their perception of what their reaction time is.
  Few

 

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