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Safety Tips from a Traffic Engineer

Winter driving and holiday traffic are right around the corner. The National Safety Council estimates 390 deaths on U.S. roads this Labor Day Weekend. Because of that, we wanted to offer a traffic safety tip to those who may be traveling for the holiday weekend. We interviewed one of our traffic engineers, Dr. Brian A. Coon, PhD, PE, for an expert driving tip before the end-of-summer holiday.

Traffic engineers don’t design the pavement of roads, but they do plan and design everything that goes on or around the pavement. This includes the striping, signage and signalization. They also consider motorist behavior and expectations. Traffic engineers will conduct capacity analyses and traffic counts; evaluate safety features, signage and markings; and investigate the cause of accidents.

Here’s Brian’s answer to a driving question we asked him ahead of the Labor Day weekend.

You can turn right at a red traffic signal, but why can’t you turn left?

“Actually, you can, but only from a one-way street to another one-way street,” Brian said.  “And only in certain states. Kansas allows ‘left on red,’ but Missouri, as a state, does not.”

“Traffic laws are important to traffic signal design,” he said. “If ‘right on red’ is legal in the state, then the traffic engineer needs to check the sight triangles to make sure driver can maintain an adequate sight distance to do so. If they don’t—let’s say there’s a building on the corner blocking a driver’s view—then ‘no turn on red’ signage may be warranted.”

Brian, a Project Manager in our Wichita office, was the Chief Traffic Engineer for the City of Wichita for over a decade. He has many other professional credentials including being licensed to practice law in Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska; a certified Professional Traffic Operations Engineer (PTOE); licensed with the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR); a trained bridge inspector by the National Highway Institute; a trainer for the American Concrete Institute; and licensed through the ADA Coordinator Training Certification program (ACTCP).

Experienced traffic engineers like Dr. Coon work to maximize traffic safety and prevent accidents every day. We’re glad to have a talented traffic engineer on our team who can provide helpful driving tips.