A simulation-based approach in determining permitted left-turn capacities

Nikiforos Stamatiadis, Adam Hedges, Adam Kirk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


A fundamental objective of traffic signal operations is the development of phasing plans that reduce delays while maintaining a high level of safety. One issue of concern is the treatment of left-turn phasing, which can operate as a protected movement, a permitted movement yielding to conflicting traffic, a combination protected-permitted movement or as a split-phase intersection. While protected-only movements can improve safety for the turning movement, they can also increase delays and congestion at the intersection. Most states maintain independent guidance for determining left-turn phasing; however, the most common identified guidance for protected left-turn phases is using a threshold based on the cross product of the left-turn volume and opposing through movements. The use of the cross product has been questioned recently as an indicator for determining phase selection. Based on simulation analysis within this research, the cross product is shown to be a poor indicator of left-turn capacity and congestion at the intersection.This research proposes a simplified single variable exponential model to determine left-turn capacity based on opposing volume and percent green time to determine left-turn capacity thresholds for protected left-turn phasing. The model is developed based on observed capacity from 450 VISSIM microsimulation scenarios which evaluated varying opposing volume, opposing number of lanes, cycle lengths and green time splits. Validation of the model based on complex Highway Capacity Manual procedures, indicates that the proposed model provides similar correlation to observed capacities. Finally, a nomograph is developed which presents the model in a simple form for interpretation and application by practicing traffic engineers, when required to determine left-turn phasing options. This procedure allows simple determination based on minimum input data needs similar to the cross product determination, without the need for complex hand calculations or computing requirements of the Highway Capacity Manual.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-495
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Left-turn capacity
  • Left-turn phasing
  • Permitted left-turn
  • Protected left-turn

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transportation
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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