Examining the effect of speed, roadside features, and roadway geometry on crash experience along a rural corridor
Donald C. Watson Jr.1, Ahmed Al-Kaisy2, Nathan D. Anderson3*
1. 289 North Lake Lulu Drive, Winter Haven, FL 33880, USA;
2. Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University, 213 Cobleigh Hall, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA;
3. 16304 South Yancey Lane, Spangle, WA 99031, USA
Abstract This paper presents a current investigation into crash experience along a 15.7-mile rural corridor in southwest Montana with the aim of better understanding crash causal factors along the corridor. The study utilized ten years of crash data, geometric data, and observed freeflow speed data along the corridor. A systematic approach was used where every tenth of a mile was described in term of the crash experience, speed, alignment, and roadside features. Using bivariate and multivariate statistical analyses, the study investigated the crash experience along the corridor as well as some of the underlying relationships which could explain some of the crash causal factors. Results show a strong association between crash rates and horizontal curvatures even for flat curves that can be negotiated at speeds above the posted speed limit, per the highway design equations. Higher crash rates were also found to be associated with the difference between the observed free-flow speeds and the speed dictated by the curve radius or sight distance as per the design equations. Further, results strongly support the safety benefits of guardrails as evidenced by the lower crash rates and severities. The presence of fixed objects and the steepness of side slopes were also found to have an effect on crash rates and severities.