Incorporating weather into regionwide safety planning prediction models

van Schalkwyk, Ida, Mitra, Sudeshna, & Washington, Simon (2006) Incorporating weather into regionwide safety planning prediction models. In Transportation Research Board 85th Annual Meeting 2006 Compendium of Papers, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, United States of America, Washington, D.C., pp. 1-17.

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Predicting safety on roadways is standard practice for road safety professionals and has a corresponding extensive literature. The majority of safety prediction models are estimated using roadway segment and intersection (microscale) data, while more recently efforts have been undertaken to predict safety at the planning level (macroscale). Safety prediction models typically include roadway, operations, and exposure variables—factors known to affect safety in fundamental ways. Environmental variables, in particular variables attempting to capture the effect of rain on road safety, are difficult to obtain and have rarely been considered. In the few cases weather variables have been included, historical averages rather than actual weather conditions during which crashes are observed have been used. Without the inclusion of weather related variables researchers have had difficulty explaining regional differences in the safety performance of various entities (e.g. intersections, road segments, highways, etc.) As part of the NCHRP 8-44 research effort, researchers developed PLANSAFE, or planning level safety prediction models. These models make use of socio-economic, demographic, and roadway variables for predicting planning level safety. Accounting for regional differences - similar to the experience for microscale safety models - has been problematic during the development of planning level safety prediction models. More specifically, without weather related variables there is an insufficient set of variables for explaining safety differences across regions and states. Furthermore, omitted variable bias resulting from excluding these important variables may adversely impact the coefficients of included variables, thus contributing to difficulty in model interpretation and accuracy. This paper summarizes the results of an effort to include weather related variables, particularly various measures of rainfall, into accident frequency prediction and the prediction of the frequency of fatal and/or injury degree of severity crash models. The purpose of the study was to determine whether these variables do in fact improve overall goodness of fit of the models, whether these variables may explain some or all of observed regional differences, and identifying the estimated effects of rainfall on safety. The models are based on Traffic Analysis Zone level datasets from Michigan, and Pima and Maricopa Counties in Arizona. Numerous rain-related variables were found to be statistically significant, selected rain related variables improved the overall goodness of fit, and inclusion of these variables reduced the portion of the model explained by the constant in the base models without weather variables. Rain tends to diminish safety, as expected, in fairly complex ways, depending on rain frequency and intensity.

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ID Code: 38173
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Accident rates; Accident severity; Fatalities; Forecasting; Goodness of fit; Highway safety; Injuries; Maricopa County (Arizona); Michigan; Models; Pima County (Arizona); Planning; Rainfall; Regions; Traffic accidents; Traffic safety; Weather
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING (120500)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Urban Development
Deposited On: 28 Oct 2010 03:44
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2012 01:17

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