Impact of traffic states on freeway crash involvement rates

Hwasoo Yeo, Kitae Jang, Alexander Skabardonis, Seungmo Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Freeway traffic accidents are complicated events that are influenced by multiple factors including roadway geometry, drivers' behavior, traffic conditions and environmental factors. Among the various factors, crash occurrence on freeways is supposed to be strongly influenced by the traffic states representing driving situations that are changed by road geometry and cause the change of drivers' behavior. This paper proposes a methodology to investigate the relationship between traffic states and crash involvements on the freeway. First, we defined section-based traffic states: free flow (FF), back of queue (BQ), bottleneck front (BN) and congestion (CT) according to their distinctive patterns; and traffic states of each freeway section are determined based on actual measurements of traffic data from upstream and downstream ends of the section. Next, freeway crash data are integrated with the traffic states of a freeway section using upstream and downstream traffic measurements. As an illustrative study to show the applicability, we applied the proposed method on a 32-mile section of I-880 freeway. By integrating freeway crash occurrence and traffic data over a three-year period, we obtained the crash involvement rate for each traffic state. The results show that crash involvement rate in BN, BQ, and CT states are approximately 5 times higher than the one in FF. The proposed method shows promise to be used for various safety performance measurement including hot spot identification and prediction of the number of crash involvements on freeway sections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-723
Number of pages11
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jan


  • Accident
  • Crash involvement rate
  • Traffic safety
  • Traffic state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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