Traffic Safety Along Tourist Routes in Rural Areas

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Little is known about the safety of tourist drivers in the United States. Most domestic studies have focused on traffic deaths and injuries of U.S. citizens traveling abroad and cite factors such as driving on the left, lack of seat belt use, and alcohol consumption. U.S. states that have a number of tourist attractions and the roadways to reach them may be interested in whether traffic safety is problematic for drivers who are tourists. To that end, this research investigated the contributing factors for crash severity and crash likelihood of visiting drivers in or near three national parks in rural areas. Driver-level data from the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California revealed risk factors for crash severity, including age, geometry, and seat belt use. The second data set offered a more microscopic view at the road level and was used to anticipate crash frequency of visiting drivers at the road link level. Moreover, the second data set contained road geometry, traffic volume, environment, and crash counts aggregated at the segment level along a 57.8-mi stretch of U.S. Hwy 89 (a primary route to the north gate of Yellowstone National Park) in Montana that is frequently used by tourists. Crash risk factors (e.g., geometry and traffic intensity) affected local and nonlocal (tourist) drivers in different ways. Further exploration of crash trends in specific parks would be valuable in understanding the overall trends and contributors to crashes in tourism areas and to determine effective improvement measures.




Wang, Yiyi, David Veneziano, Sam Russell, and Ahmed Al-Kaisy. “Traffic Safety Along Tourist Routes in Rural Areas.” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 2568, no. 1 (January 2016): 55–63. doi:10.3141/2568-09.
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