Safety Evaluation of Shoulder Bypass Lanes at Unsignalized Intersections on Rural Two-Lane Roadways Using Cross Sectional Analysis
Construction of bypass lanes at rural intersections has typically been considered a low-cost highway safety improvement by the transportation community. However, this needs to be quantitatively evaluated so that the decisions could be made on whether to continue with adding bypass lanes. Highway safety analyses utilize two common approaches to evaluate the effectiveness of a geometric treatment: before-and-after study and cross-sectional study. This paper explains the results using a cross-sectional study approach, where intersections with bypass lanes were compared to intersections with no bypass lanes for which crash data were obtained for more than 1,100 intersections in Kansas. Both 3-legged and 4-legged intersections were taken into consideration separately by looking at intersection-related crashes and crashes within an intersection box.
According to the results, the number of crashes and crash severities were lower at 3-legged intersections with bypass lanes compared with 3-legged intersections without bypass lanes, even though these reductions were not statistically significant at 95% level. When considering a 300-ft. intersection box, statistically significant crash reductions were observed at 4-legged intersections, for all considered crash and crash rate categories. When considering 90% level, crash reduction at 3-legged intersections was also statistically significant when considering a 300-ft. intersection box. Crash modification factors (CMFs) calculated to evaluate safety effectiveness of bypass lanes at unsignalized rural intersections in Kansas showed values less than 1.0 for almost all cases, indicating safety benefits of bypass lanes. Accordingly, it is beneficial to continue with the practice of adding shoulder bypass lanes at rural unsignalized intersections on two-lane roads where the traffic volumes are relatively low.
by Sunanda Dissanayake and Alireza Shams