Fall 2005 UMASS Amherst
Operations Research / Management Science Seminar Series

Date: Friday, December 9, 2005

Time: 11:00 AM
Location: Isenberg School of Management, Room 112

Speaker: Professor Michael Knodler

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Biography: Michael Knodler is an Assistant Professor in the Transportation Engineering Program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  In addition, he is a Research Fellow with the Massachusetts Traffic Safety Research Program and Associate Director of the Human Performance Laboratory.  His main areas of research are related to traffic safety, operations, and design.  He recently completed work on several comprehensive projects related to protected/permissive left-turn signal control funded by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program.  The projects included operational and human factors focuses with both field and laboratory studies, including the development of driving simulator scenarios for the fixed-base mid level driving simulator in the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts.  Professor Knodler is also working on current projects that incorporate driver eye behavior in simulator versus real world environments for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the New England Transportation Consortium.  He is also involved in several safety related projects, including the statewide safety belt usage study for Massachusetts, a pedestrian crossing behavior study, and speed related crash analyses.  Professor Knodler also serves as Advisor for the Institute of Transportation Engineers UMass Student Chapter.
TITLE: When Operations meets Human Factors:
A Simulator-Based Driver Comprehension Analysis

Abstract: Perhaps the most significant safety and operational element in signalized intersection operation is simultaneous movements which cross paths, specifically, left-turn movements.  Protected/permissive left-turn (PPLT) signal phasing was a concept developed to improve operational efficiency at signalized intersections by providing a protected phase for left-turns as well as a permissive phase during which left-turns can be made if gaps in opposing through traffic allow.  The recurring major issue with PPLT signal phasing, targeted by traffic engineers and drivers alike, is the permissive indication, which is a circular green (CG) signal indication.  In short, the operational advantages of PPLT signal phasing cannot be realized unless drivers are able to comprehend the indication being presented.  As a result of this concern, the CG permissive indication became the primary focus of National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) project 3-54.  After a series of studies the NCHRP research team concluded that a flashing yellow arrow (FYA) permissive indication provided a better alternative to the CG permissive indication. 

This research describes the formulation of research hypotheses, associated with the potential implementation of the FYA permissive indication, and the use of assorted evaluation methodologies to provide quantitative and/or qualitative responses to the developed hypotheses.  Specifically, driver comprehension and behavioral analyses were completed using myriad experimental procedures, which included the use of a fixed-base, fully-interactive, dynamic driving simulator and a computer-based static evaluation.  In total, four simulator experiments, and 11 static evaluations were completed by a total of over 950 drivers and pedestrians evaluating over 11,600 permissive left-turn scenarios.  

This series is organized by the UMASS Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter. Support for this series is provided by the Isenberg School of Management, the Department of Finance and Operations Management, INFORMS, and the John F. Smith Memorial Fund.

For questions, please contact the INFORMS Student Chapter Representative, Ms. Tina Wakolbinger, wakolbinger@som.umass.edu