Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center

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Comparative Evaluation of Automated Wind Warning Systems - Showcase Evaluation #15

Product Type

Research Report


Kumar, M. and C. Strong




One challenge facing rural travelers is the presence of weather hazards that produce adverse driving conditions at isolated locations. One such hazard is sustained high winds that can cause high-profile vehicles such as recreational vehicles, commercial vehicles, etc. to overturn, and lower-profile vehicles to leave their lanes, jeopardizing motorist safety. Since wind conditions and patterns are defined significantly by local topography, there is limited ability to mitigate the impacts of wind through improved roadway design. Warning drivers of impending cross winds well in advance and implementing measures to reduce operational speeds are other options explored by transportation professionals. To address localized high cross wind challenges, the Oregon and California Departments of Transportation (ODOT and Caltrans, respectively) have used intelligent transportation systems (ITS) installations to alert motorists of dangerously windy conditions automatically. The warning messages are displayed to drivers at locations where they can stop and wait until the winds die down or where they can decide to take a longer alternate route. Three systems have been deployed in the rural California / Oregon Advanced Transportation Systems (COATS) study area, at the following locations: " Between Port Orford and Gold Beach, Oregon on US Route 101 between mileposts (MP) 300.10 and 327.51 (South Coast System) " On the Yaquina Bay Bridge (US Route 101) between mileposts 141.27 (SB) and 142.08 (NB) in Oregon " On Interstate 5 in Siskiyou County, California between postmiles 13.2 (Weed) to 45.3 (Yreka) As these systems represent innovative applications of ITS in a rural environment, a project through COATS Showcase was initiated to evaluate their effectiveness. The evaluation focused on the two Oregon systems, because these two systems were fully or partially automated and operational for the high wind season of 2003-04 (i.e. November 2003 - March 2004). The goals of the automated wind warning systems (AWWS) deployed in Oregon are threefold: " Improve the safety and security of the region's rural transportation system " Provide sustainable advanced traveler information systems that collect and disseminate credible, accurate real-time information " Increase operational efficiency and productivity focusing on system providers This report summarizes the results of this evaluation. The system locations and evaluation methodology are described in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 reviews the impacts of high-winds on motor vehicles. Evaluation results for different measures of effectiveness are presented in Chapters 4 (safety), 5 (motorist surveys), 6 (technology assessment) and 7 (operational benefits). Chapter 8 summarizes the findings of this evaluation and makes recommendations regarding future implementation.

Link To Research Report

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Advanced traveler information systems
California/Oregon Advanced Transportation Systems (COATS)
Hazard mitigation
High winds
Highway operations
Intelligent transporta

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