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Traffic light posts: Collision avoidance strategies and damage mitigation

Collision avoidance strategies

This project will investigate likely contributing factors for traffic crashes involving traffic signal posts in Queensland as well as strategies to mitigate this type of collision.

It will also investigate, develop, and test a controlled failure process to ensure quick and efficient reconnection of damaged services. Research and best practices from other similar jurisdictions will be reviewed to gain insights and consider potential solutions that could work in Queensland.

In addition, knowledge and insights from relevant problems and studies will be considered to develop and test potential solutions.


See the full list of iMOVE projects here

Project background

There is a significant number of crashes damaging traffic signal infrastructure including posts and controller cabinets. Although transport agencies, including TMR, regularly perform road safety analyses involving network screening, diagnosis, and countermeasure selection, the focus of the analyses has not yet explicitly targeted crashes damaging traffic signal infrastructure.

There are multiple reasons for this including but not limited to the frequency and severity of other crash types regarding injuries and fatalities. For example, QUT has been helping TMR with traffic safety studies focused on heavy vehicles, distractions and fatigued, generalised crash analyses including all types, and connected and autonomous vehicles among others.

A strong focus has been given to crashes involving vulnerable road users because of the human related consequences. Hence, there is a fundamental gap regarding crashes damaging traffic signal infrastructure. That is, it is not clear what are the key contributing factors causing these types of crashes.

In addition, there is not consensus and well-established countermeasures and mechanisms that enable effective management of the signal infrastructure after it is damaged by a crash. A damaged traffic signal can be very dangerous to the community and maintenance personnel. In addition, it can result in secondary crashes as well as congestion and associated externalities such as increased pollution and fuel consumption.

This research project will investigate collision avoidance strategies that TMR could implement to reduce the likelihood of traffic signal posts being impacted by vehicles. Strategies must consider the likely contributing factors for vehicles causing crashes with traffic signal posts.

In the event of this type of crash occurring, a controlled fail process needs to be investigated which minimises mechanical and electrical damage to the traffic signal infrastructure, minimises crash severity for the colliding vehicle and its occupants, minimises risks for first responders, the community (while awaiting repair) and maintenance personnel (both during the “make safe” and repair phases).

Finally, the system should allow a rapid return to operation of the unaffected signal posts and also facilitate the subsequent quick and efficient restoration (mechanical and electrical) of damaged services.

Project objectives

  • Gain a better understanding of strategies to prevent vehicle collisions with traffic signal posts.
  • Estimate the likely local effectiveness and cost of relevant countermeasures and strategies to prevent and minimise the severity of crashes involving traffic signal posts.
  • Identify benefits for TMR and the community from identified approaches and practices for quick and efficient restoration of damaged services.

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