2018 Research Project

Integrating Spatial Safety Data into Transportation Planning Processes

Principal Investigator
Chris Cherry
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
View Bio

Louis Merlin
Florida Atlantic University
View Bio


One of the key steps that is usually neglected in the transportation planning process is safety evaluation of the proposed alternatives, or safety is assessed as a separate post-process. Integrating safety into the planning process will contribute to safe systems analysis, explicitly including safety outcomes with planning models and alternative planning scenarios.

In this project, we will use the address of individuals who were involved in traffic crashes (i.e., home-based approach; HBA) instead of the location of the crashes (i.e., location-based approach; LBA) to evaluate road safety. By using HBA and estimating crash frequencies at zonal level, we can evaluate the association between sociodemographic variables, accessibility, individual exposure, and road safety; by knowing this association we can evaluate the safety impact of transportation planning alternatives in the future. One contributing factor to that is the lack of information about the residential address of the individuals. In this study, we have access to such information for Tennessee state for all the crashes that occurred between 2007 and 2016.

This study consists of five objectives:

Objective 1: Establish a new approach to road safety that attributes road safety outcomes to home-address of the individuals who were involved in traffic crashes, in addition to using infrastructure attributes at the location of the crash.

Objective 2: Investigate the relationship between sociodemographic variables and HBA crash frequency.

Objective 3: Investigate the relationship between transportation planning and HBA.

Objective 4: Benchmark road safety and policy implications.

Objective 5: Use safety indicators extracted from police reports to evaluate safety.

This project will generate a report that addresses five objectives that we mentioned above. We will use the data from Tennessee Integrated Traffic Analysis Network, Knoxville Regional Travel Demand Model, Tennessee State travel demand model (if it is necessary), and Highway Performance Monitoring System to conduct the analysis. All datasets used for Tennessee are standard across states. We will generalize the method to be applied nationwide. Each objective will be a separate section in the final report. We anticipate that this research will also generate at least two journal publications.

This study will help policymakers and transportation safety professionals communicate in a way to evaluate safety impact of the transportation system and identify neighborhoods with a higher risk of traffic crash involvement. This project will be among the first to perform such analysis based on the true exposure (i.e., individuals’ activity in transportation system at zonal level) and accessibility of the individuals. This work will also generate a dataset that can be shared and open for future researchers.

Project Details

Project Type: Research
Project Status: Active
Start Date: 5-1-2018
End Date: 7-31-2019
Contract Year: Year 2
Total Funding from CSCRS: $84,188
Collaborating Organizations: Florida Atlantic University