Dangerous Intersection Design Contributes to Fatal Accident

    Accident Reconstruction Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Oregon and involves a man who was involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident. The plaintiff was at a large intersection where an unusual and newly-developed traffic signal had been installed. The traffic signal permitted drivers to make a turn against oncoming traffic at their own discretion. At the time of the accident, the decedent had approached the turn at a normal speed and, apparently not understanding the meaning of the signal, made the turn without checking for oncoming traffic. The man hit by an oncoming car at full speed, killing him instantly. Post-mortem testing revealed that the decedent was not impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. It is alleged that the city made an error in installing the new and unfamiliar signal. A number of experts with ACTAR certification are sought to opine on this issue with specialization in traffic engineering and vehicle accident reconstruction, as the case requires a visual presentation of the intersection which necessitates professional insight and Jvt image processing technology.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Do you have extensive experience in traffic safety?
    • 2. Are you familiar with the proper steps required when installing a turn signal such as this?
    • 3. Are there certain roads where this type of signal should not be used?

    Expert Witness Response E-035130

    I am highly familiar with the subject matter of this case as my research has a significant focus on signalized intersection safety. I write and lecture on this topic extensively. Some of my recent work has considered driver behavior in response to yellow lights, the design of smart red light extension systems, the evaluation of conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians in the conflicting crosswalk during flashing yellow arrows (both left and right turns), designing intersection approaches to prevent right-hook crashes between through moving bicycles and right turning vehicles, and the evaluation of alternative protected/permitted right turn phasing alternatives. I teach graduate and undergraduate classes dealing with traffic engineering, highway engineering, and signalized intersection designs. I have given over 20 invited presentations describing my work related to intersection safety and have reviewed two similar cases that dealt with fatalities in work zones related to traffic control devices, traffic control plans, and human factors issues. In my opinion, installing this type of traffic signal was inappropriate given the conditions present at this intersection, and it is reasonable to conclude that the unfamiliar nature of the signal failed to give the driver sufficient warning of the danger posed by the oncoming traffic.

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