Building intricate intersections to help drivers avoid accidents

Here is a quick look at some “intricate” intersection designs that are intended to help drivers avoid accidents. These go beyond the “Michigan Left” to the “Jughandle,” the “Superstreet,” and the “Diverging Diamond.”

Here is a little explanation of the difficulty these intersections face:

As you can imagine, these designs are not an easy sell. “It’s a two-fold sale that has to happen,” Sangster tells us. “We’re not going to build these if they’re not safe. We’re also not going to build them if they don’t work better.”

I wonder if the better question is how drivers would react to them. People tend not to like change in their predictable roads. Of course, with repeated exposure people will get better at handling these kinds of intersections and eventually they become normal. (Having some extended experience with the Michigan Left as well as a roundabout, I can attest that they seem strange at first but become second nature pretty quickly.) I could even imagine a situation where a local community comes to regard their “intricate” intersection as a badge of honor, particularly if the intersection is much safer.

There are also cost and construction concerns with these new intersections. Check out an article about a 2010 proposal for a diverging diamond to be installed at Route 59 and I-88 in Naperville that suggests American engineers have been reluctant to be some of the first to spend the money for such intersections.

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