Completed 2017 Research Project

An Enhanced Systemic Approach to Safety

Principal Investigator
Offer Grembek
University of California, Berkeley
View Bio

Libby Thomas
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
View Bio

Full Report

Research Brief

Project Slide Deck


The traditional, transportation safety management approach involves the identification of crash hotspots, in which public agencies prioritize locations eligible for safety improvements based on historical collision concentrations. This project presents an enhanced systemic approach which consists of targeting blanket improvements at sites across a road network based on specific roadway features that are associated with a particular crash type. The systemic approach uses historical crash data to identify the types of roadways that suffer from recurring safety concerns, designating it as reactive to data, but also provides a mechanism to make improvements to sites that have not experienced many—or any—crashes in a proactive manner.

The systemic approach is a flexible, data-driven methodology that aims to identify recurring safety concerns by identifying the crash profiles that are associated with certain roadway features. The analysis takes the form of a transparent systemic crash matrix that shows what types of crashes occur on what types of facilities, with rows representing crash characteristics and columns corresponding to facility types. Using such a matrix provides agencies with a snapshot of systemic problems within their networks, which is both easy to assemble and to interpret, thus overcoming potential barriers to changes in road safety management due to limited institutional capacity or financial means. The framework set by the systemic approach is flexible enough to allow agencies with varying degrees of data availability to implement it—regardless of the level of performance their data management systems—and with different safety priorities.

Project Details

Project Type: Research
Project Status: Completed
Start Date: 3-1-2017
End Date: 9-1-2018
Contract Year: Year 1
Total Funding from CSCRS: $120,000
Co-sponsors:  California Department of Transportation
Collaborating Organizations: University of California, Berkeley; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill