Safety Effects of Road Geometry and Roadside Features on Low-Volume Roads in Oregon

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Crashes are random events and can occur at any location along a roadway. On roadways with high traffic volumes, the more frequent occurrence of crashes permits the direct identification of high-frequency crash locations with the use of historical data. On low-volume roads, crash occurrence, particularly the occurrence of crashes with fatal and serious injuries, is less frequent. There is a need to understand better the risks associated with geometric and roadside features along low-volume roadways in order to identify locations where preventive countermeasures may be employed. This paper describes the collection and analysis of a large sample of data from low-volume roads in Oregon to quantify the effects of geometric and roadside features on crash occurrence and associated risks. The effects of lane width, shoulder width, grade, side slope, fixed objects near the roadway, and horizontal and vertical curves have been quantified. For the low-volume road sample, roads with lanes less than 12 ft wide have a much higher crash risk than do roads with standard 12-ft lanes. Similarly, roads with narrow or no shoulders tend to have much higher crash rates than roads with shoulders 4 ft or 5 ft wide. Crash risk is shown to be much higher on curves with higher degrees of curvature compared with curves with smaller degrees of curvature.




Ewan, Levi A., Ahmed Al-Kaisy, and Fahmid Hossain. “Safety Effects of Road Geometry and Roadside Features on Low-Volume Roads in Oregon.” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 2580, no. 1 (January 2016): 47–55. doi:10.3141/2580-06.
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