Traffic safety: City of Kelowna announces ‘smart right turns’ for select intersections

They’re called ‘smart right turns,’ and the City of Kelowna says local residents can expect to see them throughout the city.

This week, the city announced that a handful of intersections are undergoing construction for safer right turns

According to the city, realigning ‘channelled’ right turns is a safety improvement, leading to an improved line of vision for drivers when merging from one street to another.

Read more: Kelowna’s roadwork schedule for 2021 could put bump in your commute

“This is a great example of the evolution of traffic safety,” said Chad Williams, transportation planning engineer with the city. “This geometric reconfiguration of right-turn channels improves sightlines and simplifies the turning movement, reducing collisions.”

The ‘smart channel’ design forces vehicles to enter at a sharper angle (approximately 70 degrees), reducing the turning radius and therefore causing drivers to slow down to complete the turn.

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The city says, as a result, a driver’s cone of vision of the intersection and cross-traffic increases, allowing them to see the traffic stream with a direct line of vision.

“As a result, the driver does not need to do a sharp left shoulder check, which simplifies the turn,” said the city.

“Finally, this layout also positions crossing pedestrians more directly in the line of sight of oncoming vehicles, which increases their visibility for drivers.”

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Williams noted that ICBC contributes funding to road improvement projects, each year, that reduce collisions.

“Last year ICBC invested more than $170,000 in Kelowna projects, for their safety benefits,” said Williams.

Construction for the ‘smart channels’ is currently underway at Gordon Drive and Clement Avenue and is expected to be completed by mid-April.

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Pedestrians and cyclists are asked to use other routes while the construction is underway.

The three other intersections that are set to be accomplished in 2021:

Data from three right-turn ‘smart channels’ in Penticton have shown a decrease in the frequency and severity of collisions from merging.

“The results showed that the implementation of the right-turn treatment has resulted in a considerable reduction in the severity and frequency of collisions,” reads part of the abstract from the 2013 report that can be viewed here.

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