engineering bright ideas
Patrick Hasson, the Safety and Design Team Manager of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA’s) Resource Center, has been a professional in the transportation field for 25 years. He said he still enjoys what he does because he believes transportation is just as vital as ever, if not more so.
“[Transportation] is fundamental to everything we do and everyone’s lives ? whether you walk, or ride a bike, or drive a car ? plus flying and getting out on the water, everything is transportation. We all rely on it for everything that we do,” he said.
traffic engineering, including the development of a roadway lighting design guide for roundabouts. A roundabout is a circular intersection where traffic flows in one direction around an island at a reduced speed. Traffic entering the circle must yield to traffic already in the intersection. Hasson said that as roundabouts became more popular in the United States, engineers realized that no standard roadway lighting guide had been developed to be followed during their construction. States either developed their own guides or just did what seemed to work according to their experiences, while other countries had definitive standards. Upon learning this, Hasson teamed up with the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) to look into creating a lighting guide for the U.S.
After examining driver behavior and tapping into international experience, Hasson, along with IES and other professionals, developed a roadway lighting design guide for roundabouts. This guide can help ensure that proven, safe lighting techniques are being used in roundabouts, which have already shown potential when it comes to improving intersection safety. According to the FHWA’s website, “roundabouts have demonstrated substantial safety and operational benefits compared to most other intersection forms and controls, with especially significant reductions in fatal and injury crashes.” 1 This is incredibly important because each year about 2,300 people are killed at traditional signalized intersections in the U.S., with another 700 killed in red-light-running crashes. 2
Designing roundabouts is not the only way to improve safety at intersections and on the road. Anything done for the design and management of intersections and the roadway will be done with safety as the top priority. Whether it is protecting turns by using green arrows, developing warnings to signal traffic light changes, designing turn lanes to maintain a proper line-of-sight at intersections, or deciding when, where, and how to install medians and guardrails, engineers are always thinking of safety. That is what Hasson thinks is one of the most exciting opportunities about a career in transportation.
“In my area in safety, in particular, we always feel like we’re making whatever differences we can in people’s lives, of just trying to prevent one fatality, one serious injury, one serious crash ? just being able to make a difference that you know counts for people,” Hasson said.
http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/provencountermeasures/fhwa_sa_12_005.htm. Accessed 3/13/13.