Evaluation of lane reduction "road diet" measures on crashes and injuries
Author(s): Huang, Herman; Stewart, J.; Zegeer, Charles
Publication Date: Jan-2002
Journal: Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board
Abstract: “Road diets” are often conversions of four-lane undivided roads into three lanes (two through lanes plus a center turn lane). The fourth lane may be converted to bicycle lanes, sidewalks, or on-street parking. Road diets are sometimes implemented with the objective of reducing vehicle speeds as well as the number of motor vehicle crashes and injuries. A study was conducted to investigate the actual effects of road diets on motor vehicle crashes and injuries. Twelve road diets and 25 comparison sites in California and Washington cities were analyzed. Crash data were obtained for these road diet (2,068 crashes) and comparison sites (8,556 crashes). A “before” and “after” analysis using a “yoked comparison” study design found that the percent of road diet crashes occurring during the “after” period was about 6% lower than that of the matched comparison sites. However, a separate analysis in which a negative binomial model was used to control for possible differential changes in average daily traffic, study period, and other factors indicated no significant treatment effect. Crash severity was virtually the same at road diets and comparison sites. There were some differences in crash type distributions between road diets and comparison sites, but not between the “before” and “after” periods. Conversion to a road diet should be made on a case-by-case basis in which traffic flow, vehicle capacity, and safety are all considered. It is also recommended that the effects of road diets be further evaluated under a variety of traffic and roadway conditions.