This paper presents the results of a before-after (BA) safety evaluation of a newly proposed design for channelized right-turn lanes. The new design, termed "Smart Channels", decreases the angle of the channelized right turn to approximately 70°. The implementation of these modified right-turn channels is usually advocated to allow for safer pedestrian crossing. However, the benefits also extend to vehicle-vehicle interactions since the new approach angle affords drivers a better view of the traffic stream they are to merge with. The evaluation is conducted using a video-based automated traffic conflict analysis. There are several advantages that support the adoption of traffic conflict techniques in BA safety studies. Traffic conflicts are more frequent than road collisions and are of marginal social cost, they provide insight into the failure mechanism that leads to road collisions, and BA studies based on traffic conflicts can be conducted over shorter periods. As well, the use of automated conflict analysis overcomes the reliability and repeatability problems usually associated with manual conflict observations. Data for three treatment intersections and one control intersection in Penticton, British Columbia, are used in this study. The results of the evaluation show that the implementation of the right-turn treatment has resulted in a considerable reduction in the severity and frequency of merging, rear-end, and total conflicts. The total average hourly conflict was reduced by about 51% while the average conflict severity was reduced by 41%. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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