Developing a network screening method for low volume roads

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Engineering


Crash occurrences on rural low-volume roads (LVRs) are usually more severe in nature. This is mostly because of higher speeds and outdated infrastructure designs. Therefore, safety management programs for these roads are equally as important as their urban and high-volume counterparts. Network screening is an important aspect of safety management programs. However, traditional network screening methods based on historical crash data may not provide accurate results for LVRs. This is because of the sporadic nature of crash occurrence and the lower volumes. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to develop a suitable network screening method for LVRs. The literature review of this research identified a few existing network screening methods. A state-of-practice survey was also carried out in order to understand the LVR safety management practices across the United States. Then the identified methods were assessed for their suitability for LVRs. The method using a combination of crash frequency, severity and rate, and the Empirical Bayes (EB) method scored the highest. However, the EB method was selected for further analysis as it is not entirely dependent on historical crash experience and it incorporates risk factors. Actual LVR data from Oregon was used to analyze the EB method. This analysis indicated that the safety performance functions (SPFs) of the EB method overestimates the predicted crash numbers. This overestimation is mostly due to the high accident modification factors (AMF) for sharp horizontal curves. Finally, an alternative method was proposed. Two multiple linear regression models for estimating expected crashes mostly using risk factor categories were developed. The risk factor data were categorized using Classification and Regression Tree (CART) analysis. Both models have R square values of more than 0.90.




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