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Variable Speed Limits Making Work Zones Work Better Workshop Orlando, Florida 17 Sept. 03 Davey Warren Office of Safety Programs Federal Highway Administration.

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Presentation on theme: "Variable Speed Limits Making Work Zones Work Better Workshop Orlando, Florida 17 Sept. 03 Davey Warren Office of Safety Programs Federal Highway Administration."— Presentation transcript:

1 Variable Speed Limits Making Work Zones Work Better Workshop Orlando, Florida 17 Sept. 03 Davey Warren Office of Safety Programs Federal Highway Administration

2 Presentation Overview What is a variable speed limit? How do variable speed limits work? Objectives of variable speed limit system Work Zone Tests Lessons learned Future products and additional information

3 What is a Variable Speed Limit (VSL)? Speed limit changes with changing conditions 1950

4 Part-time Speed Limit Work Zone

5 Focus of presentation Modern systems change the speed limits in real time: Traffic conditions Adverse weather conditions Road surface conditions Work Zones 1960

6 Computer controlled limits

7 Variable Speed Limit System Components traffic and speed detectors variable speed signs microprocessor communication environmental sensors base station for recording speed limit changes

8 Why Use Variable Speed Limits?

9 Objectives Increase compliance Improve safety More efficient use of highway Less burdened justice system Responsive to dynamic conditions Provide real time information

10 Variable Speed Limit Applications General VSL Winter Weather and Adverse Road Conditions Fog Congestion Work Zones

11 General VSL Examples NJ Turnpike I-40 New Mexico Germany Characteristics Typically cover longer stretches of roadway Broad range of input criteria for speed limit decision (traffic speed, volume, crashes, congestion, construction, ice, snow, fog, etc.)

12 I-40 New Mexico fully automated maximum speed limit constrained by NMSL minimum speed limit downstream hazard warning roadside station after each interchange

13 Average Speeds and Variable Limit Over 24 hr

14 N.M. Automated Speed Control Logic Smooth Mean Speed +/-

15 Congestion Examples Lodge Freeway, MI M25, UK Netherlands Characteristics Cover stretches of congested roadways Speeds set to reflect traffic conditions Slow traffic approaching backups 1960

16 Winter Weather and Road Conditions Examples I-90, Washington E18, Finland I-40, Arizona Characteristics Cover longer stretches of weather-susceptible roadways Speeds set to reflect roadway/weather/visibility conditions

17 Fog Examples I-75, Tennessee I-80, Nevada F-6, Australia A 16, Netherlands Characteristics Typically deployed in areas that experience highly variable, severe fog Speed and visibility sensors

18 VSL in Work Zones Dynamic conditions in work zones make them excellent candidates for VSL FHWA is sponsoring 3 field tests of VSL in work zones Michigan Maryland Virginia

19 VSL in Work Zones Examples Michigan Maryland Virginia (on hold) Characteristics Portable speed trailers Typically deployed in longer term work zones

20 Field Test Objectives Objectives: Deploy practical variable speed limit systems in work zones Evaluate the effectiveness of the systems on: Speed limit compliance Credibility of speed limits Improved Safety Improved Traffic flow

21 Michigan’s VSL System Four deployments to date Where: 19-mile work zone I-96 near Lansing ADT 29k – 53k (over 10% trucks) When: late May – August 2002 Duration: Short – All less than 1 week

22 I-96 Michigan 6-7 variable speed limit trailers RTMS Traffic detector Solar power Controller with RF communication LED speed display ½-1 mi spacing line of sight communication 70 to 40 mi/h Based on prevailing speed Max based on nature of road work Pagers used to transmit speed limit changes to police

23 Michigan’s Speed Control Logic Profile1 Workers Unprotected 2 Workers Present 3 No Work Activity L.O. Threshold - 0%506070 H.O. Threshold – 70%40 v < 4040 40 ≤ v < 4345 43 ≤ v < 4850 48 ≤ v < 535055 53 ≤ v < 585060 58 ≤ v < 63506065 63 ≤ v < 68506070 v ≥ 68506070

24 Michigan’s VSL System Preliminary Results: Better compliance More uniform speeds during off-peak Travel times reduced Greater speed reduction at crossover RTMS accurate for volume but marginal for speed Trailers can be set-up within 10 minutes

25 Maryland’s Work Zone VSL VSL Trailers – 4 Radar unit for speed Queue Detector Trailers – 2 Variable Message Signs on Trailers – 2 Base Unit – Central Control (CHIPS System Trailer) – 1

26 Maryland’s VSL Algorithms Logic: User selectable percentile speed Percentile can vary depending on whether workers present or not User can specify times to switch percentile Speed limit will be updated no more frequently than every 2 minutes. 2 other candidate algorithms programmed Tweener Oz

27 Maryland’s VSL System Status Status: Completed pre-deployment testing and accepted equipment First deployment will occur in the next month The second deployment has yet to be scheduled

28 Lessons Learned Engineering Perform “off-site” testing on a real road Eliminate unnecessary fluctuations in limit May need to change as often as once a minute Need signs on both sides of road with 3 or more lanes Implementation Make sure that all stakeholders are on board and working towards common goals Don’t try to do everything all at once – start with something easy Work closely with the media; have only 1 or 2 PR people for the media to contact Be flexible (expect the unexpected)

29 Summary VSL being used around the world to help manage speed and improve safety VSL seems to be particularly appropriate for work zones Enforcement remains an issue More and better data needed on effectiveness

30 Additional Information Examples of Variable Speed Limit Applications (EDL#12164) Safety Applications of ITS in Rural Areas (EDL#13609 ) NCHRP Legal Research Digest 47: Judicial Enforcement of Variable Speed Controlled Motorways: Variable Speed Limits on the M-25, UK Variable Speed Limit slide show Future Products NCHRP 3-59 Variable Speed Limit Implementation Issues (2004) Field Test Evaluation Cross-Cutting Study Report (2004)

31 Questions Davey Warren FHWA HSA-20 400 7 th Street, SW Washington, DC 20590 202-366-4668

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