Study Details

Study Title: Safety Performance of Unsignalized Median U-Turn Intersections

Authors: Jonathan Kay, Timothy J. Gates, Peter T. Savolainen, and Md Shakir Mahmud

Publication Date: 2022

Abstract: Alternative intersection designs can offer safety and operational benefits with potentially lower costs than conventional intersections when implemented in the proper setting. The Federal Highway Administration has previously identified a subset of alternative designs called reduced left-turn conflict intersections as a proven safety countermeasure. Median U-turn intersections (also known as "Michigan lefts" or "boulevard turnarounds") are one such design that accommodates all left-turn movements via directional U-turn crossovers within the median. Prior work has consistently shown that median U-turn intersections can provide superior safety performance when used in the appropriate conditions. However, research that is specific to unsignalized reduced left-turn conflict intersections continues to be limited to work conducted before the Highway Safety Manual, or which includes restricted crossing U-turn intersections. This study included the evaluation of historical traffic crashes and volume data at 95 unsignalized intersections in the state of Michigan. This included the collection of data for 39 median U-turn sites and 56 reference group sites to estimate safety performance functions and crash modification factors that can be used when considering future conversions. Ultimately, crash modification factors for fatal and injury crashes of 0.438 and 0.686 are recommended when converting intersections with undivided two-lane two-way major approaches and four-lane divided boulevard major approaches, respectively. Although there was no significant difference in property damage only crashes associated with converting intersections with undivided, two-lane, two-way major approaches, a crash modification factor of 1.325 is recommended for property damage only crashes specific to conversions with four-lane, divided boulevard major approaches.

Study Citation: Kay, J., T.J. Gates, P.T. Savolainen, and M.S. Mahmud. "Safety Performance of Unsignalized Median U-Turn Intersections". Transportation Research Record, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Science, Washington, D.C., (2022).

CMFs Associated With This Study

Category: Intersection geometry

Countermeasure: Convert intersection to media U-turn (MUT) intersection

CMF CRF(%) Quality Crash Type Crash Severity Roadway Type Area Type
0.438 56.2 3 Stars All K,A,B,C All
0.686 31.4 3 Stars All K,A,B,C All
1.325 -32.5 3 Stars All O All