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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-IP-88-027
Date: January 1989

Traffic Conflict Techniques for Safety and Operations: Observer's Manual




This Observer's Manual provides basic background information for persons who are assigned to observe traffic conflicts in the field. The manual contains definitions of traffic conflicts which typically occur at intersections as well as step-by-step instructions for conducting the survey.

Experience observers and engineers will find the manual to be a handy reference source and an aid in training new personnel. Persons who have not previously conducted a traffic conflict survey should read this manual carefully as a first step in learning how to accurately observe and record traffic conflicts.

Stanley R. Byington, Director
Office of Implementation


Traffic Conflict Techniques for Safety and Operations: Observer's Manual

PDF Version (4.23 MB)

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1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Traffic Conflict Techniques for Safety and Operations Observer's Manual

5. Report Date

January 1989

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

M. R. Parker, Jr. and C. V. Zegeer

8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Martin R. Parker and Associates, Inc.
38549 Laurenwood Drive
Wayne, Michigan 48184-1073

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

NCP 3A9C0093

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Implementation (HRT-20)
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike, T-304
McLean, Virginia 22101

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Test Report
October 1986 – June 1988

14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes

Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR) - Michael S. Griffith, HSR-20 Clarence W. Mosher, King K. Mak, and TARAS Inc. were subcontractors. King K. Mak and John Painter of TARAS Inc. were members of the Expert Panel.

16. Abstract

This manual provides basic background information and step-by-step procedures for conducting traffic conflict surveys at signalized and unsignalized intersections. The manual was prepared as a training aid and reference source for persons who are assigned the responsibility of conducting traffic conflict observations at intersections.

Based on previous research and experiences, the survey techniques described in this manual provide a standard, cost-effective method for accurately observing and recording traffic conflicts. The manual contains definitions with illustrations and examples of conflict types, and instructions for conducting the field activities, including the time schedules, forms, and other details.

The results of traffic conflict observations are used to diagnose safety and operational problems and to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments. Observer training techniques, as well as procedures for analyzing and interpreting the results of conflict surveys, are presented in the engineer's guide (FHWA-IP-88-026).

17. Key Words

Traffic conflicts, Accidents, Intersections, Manual observations, Accident surrogates, Training, Evasive maneuvers, Pedestrians

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classification (of this report)


20. Security Classification (of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized



Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101