Advancing the methodology for predicting the safety effects of highway design and operational elements
thesisposted on 08.06.2021, 10:50 by Taha Saleem
Road traffic crashes are one of the major causes of deaths and injuries around the world killing approximately 1.2 million people and injuring over 50 million every year. One of the primary goals of transportation agencies around the world is to reduce crashes as well as minimize the potential for human error and provide a forgiving road environment. Estimating the safety effects of highway design and operational elements is essential in achieving this goal. This research is divided into two components aimed at advancing the methodology for estimating these effects. The first component looks at evaluating the potential of cross-sectional analysis for developing crash modification factors/functions (CMFs/CMFunctions) used to represent the effects of safety treatments on crashes. First, the cross-sectional approach was used to investigate the safety effects of horizontal curvature on rural two-lane highways, which would be impossible to evaluate with before-after data. Second, this approach was further evaluated using databases of sites that were actually treated and similar, but untreated reference sites. The treatment databases for this part consisted of combination rumble strips (center line plus shoulder), wet reflective pavement markings and intersection conflict warning systems. The results from the cross-sectional analysis were then compared to recent studies where empirical Bayes before-after analysis was conducted with the same dataset used for the cross-sectional analysis. The results were promising in that the effects from the cross-sectional and before-after studies were reasonably comparable in each case. In addition, it was possible in some cases to relate the CMF to application circumstances by developing CMFunctions, providing results that could not be achieved in the before-after studies. The second component of this research involved development of roundabout crash predictions using conflicting volumes and delays, which could only be estimated from turning movement counts that are rarely collected at roundabouts. The object was to determine whether the considerable extra effort to collect these data would be worthwhile. The developed models were compared to the traditional models based on approach flows. The results suggest that collecting turning movement data, which is also required for capacity analysis, would be worthwhile for evaluating roundabout safety.