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Accid Anal Prev. 2018 Feb;111:71-85. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2017.11.020. Epub 2017 Nov 22.

Barrier-relevant crash modification factors and average costs of crashes on arterial roads in Indiana.

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Plymouth Rock Management Company of New Jersey, Red Bank, NJ 07701, United States. Electronic address:
Center for Road Safety, School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University, 550 Stadium Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN, United States. Electronic address:


The objective of this study was to develop crash modification factors (CMFs) and estimate the average crash costs applicable to a wide range of road-barrier scenarios that involved three types of road barriers (concrete barriers, W-beam guardrails, and high-tension cable barriers) to produce a suitable basis for comparing barrier-oriented design alternatives and road improvements. The intention was to perform the most comprehensive and in-depth analysis allowed by the cross-sectional method and the crash data available in Indiana. To accomplish this objective and to use the available data efficiently, the effects of barrier were estimated on the frequency of barrier-relevant (BR) crashes, the types of harmful events and their occurrence during a BR crash, and the severity of BR crash outcomes. The harmful events component added depth to the analysis by connecting the crash onset with its outcome. Further improvement of the analysis was accomplished by considering the crash outcome severity of all the individuals involved in a crash and not just drivers, utilizing hospital data, and pairing the observations with and without road barriers along same or similar road segments to better control the unobserved heterogeneity. This study confirmed that the total number of BR crashes tended to be higher where medians had installed barriers, mainly due to collisions with barriers and, in some cases, with other vehicles after redirecting vehicles back to traffic. These undesirable effects of barriers were surpassed by the positive results of reducing cross-median crashes, rollover events, and collisions with roadside hazards. The average cost of a crash (unit cost) was reduced by 50% with cable barriers installed in medians wider than 50ft. A similar effect was concluded for concrete barriers and guardrails installed in medians narrower than 50ft. The studied roadside guardrails also reduced the unit cost by 20%-30%. Median cable barriers were found to be the most effective among all the studied barriers due to the smaller increase in the crash frequency caused by these barriers and the less severe injury outcomes. More specifically, the occupants of vehicles colliding with near-side cable barriers tended to have less severe injuries than occupants of vehicles entering the median from median's farther side. The near-side cable barriers provided protection against rollover inside the median and against a potentially dangerous collision with or running over the median drain; therefore, the greatest safety benefit can be expected where cable barriers are installed at both edges of the median. The CMFs and unit crash costs for 48 road-barrier scenarios produced in this study are included in this paper.


Average crash cost; Cable barriers; Crash modification factors; Road barriers; Safety performance

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