Effects of countdown timers on queue discharge characteristics of through movement at a signalized intersection

This study investigates how countdown timers installed at a signalized intersection affect the queue discharge characteristics of through movement during the green phase. Since the countdown timers display the time remaining (in seconds) until the onset of the green phase, drivers waiting in the queue at the intersection are aware of the upcoming phase change, and are likely to respond quicker. Thus, the countdown timers could reduce the start-up lost time, decrease the saturation headway, and increase the saturation flow rate. This study observed vehicle flow at an intersection in Bangkok for 24 h when the countdown timers were operating, and for another 24 h when the countdown timers were switched off. The signal plans and timings remained unchanged in both cases. Standard statistical t-tests were used to compare the difference in traffic characteristics between the "with timer" and "without timer" cases. It was found that the countdown timers had a significant impact on the start-up lost time, reducing it by 1.00-1.92 s per cycle, or a 17-32% time saving. However, the effects on saturation headway were found to be trivial, which implies that the countdown timers do not have much impact on the saturation flow rate of signalized intersections, especially during the off-peak day period and the late night period. The savings in the start-up lost time from the countdown timers was estimated to be equivalent to an 8-24 vehicles/h increase for each through movement lane at the intersection being studied.


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  • Accession Number: 01141762
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Oct 2 2009 2:44PM