Many transportation agencies use accident frequencies, and statistical models of accidents frequencies, as a basis for prioritizing highway safety improvements. However, the use of accident severities in safety programming has been often been limited to the locational assessment of accident fatalities, with little or no emphasis being placed on the full severity distribution of accidents (property damage only, possible injury, injury)-which is needed to fully assess the benefits of competing safety-improvement projects. In this paper we demonstrate a modeling approach that can be used to better understand the injury-severity distributions of accidents on highway segments, and the effect that traffic, highway and weather characteristics have on these distributions. The approach we use allows for the possibility that estimated model parameters can vary randomly across roadway segments to account for unobserved effects potentially relating to roadway characteristics, environmental factors, and driver behavior. Using highway-injury data from Washington State, a mixed (random parameters) logit model is estimated. Estimation findings indicate that volume-related variables such as average daily traffic per lane, average daily truck traffic, truck percentage, interchanges per mile and weather effects such as snowfall are best modeled as random-parameters-while roadway characteristics such as the number of horizontal curves, number of grade breaks per mile and pavement friction are best modeled as fixed parameters. Our results show that the mixed logit model has considerable promise as a methodological tool in highway safety programming.
- Accident injury severity prediction
- Mixed logit model
- Random parameters