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Aerial Drone Technology Tracks Driver Behaviour in Fredericton

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Jon Lewis, Traffic Engineer, Engineering Services Division, City of Fredericton, explains how aerial drone technology has helped drivers navigate through the first multi-lane roundabout in Fredericton. Prepared on behalf of TAC’s Small Municipalities Task Force, this article is part of a series on the issues and challenges affecting smaller communities.

The University of New Brunswick (UNB) Group has been using aerial drones to help the City of Fredericton better understand how drivers have handled New Brunswick’s first multi-lane roundabout. The Smythe Street roundabout was constructed and opened in Fredericton in September 2015 and now handles approximately 28,000 vehicles per day.

Aerial view of roundabout from drone: UNB Transportation Group

Aerial drones were used to track driver behaviour from the time the roundabout first opened to one-year following its opening. In general, driver errors decreased quickly for the first six months and have since leveled at approximately 2% of drivers making an error travelling through the roundabout.

The most common driver error reflected drivers changing lanes within the roundabout. The City has been monitoring trends in roundabout pavement marking practices to determine if modifications should be made to pavement markings.

The most common driver error that resulted in a collision (generally minor property-damage only collisions) were vehicles entering the roundabout and not yielding to both lanes of circulating traffic. To help address this issue, the City has added supplementary signage and will be reviewing if the signage has had any impact on driver behaviour.

The City will also be working with the Department of Public Safety to update the next provincial driver’s manual with enhanced information to help drivers in multi-lane roundabouts.

Overall, the Smythe Street multi-lane roundabout has been a very successful project for the City of Fredericton. Driver behaviour research, completed by Caitlin Sowers under the supervision of Dr. Eric Hildebrand, University of New Brunswick, has helped the City educate drivers navigating multi-lane roundabouts, and has set the stage to build more multi-lane roundabouts in the future.

For additional information or questions, contact Jon Lewis, Traffic Engineer, City of Fredericton.

Photo of supplementary signage: UNB Transportation Group