Relationship between volume-to-capacity ratios and accident rates

Academic Article


  • The general relationships between hourly accident rates and hourly traffic volume/capacity (v/c) ratios were examined. A 26 km ( 16 mi) segment of Interstate I-94 in the Detroit area was selected as the study segment. The v/c ratios were calculated from average hourly traffic volume counts collected in 1993 and 1994 from three permanent count stations. Accident rates were derived from hourly distributed number of accidents in the same 2 years. The correlation between v/c values and accident rates follows a general U-shaped pattern. The study of all observed accidents combined indicates that accident rates are highest in the very low hourly v/c range, decrease rapidly with increasing v/c ratio, and then gradually increase as the v/c ratio continues to increase. U-shaped models also explain the relationship between v/c and accident rates for weekdays and weekend days, multivehicle, rear-end, and property-damage-only accidents. On the other hand, single-vehicle, fixed-object, and turnover accidents, and accidents involving injury and fatality follow a generally decreasing trend with increasing v/c ratio. Traffic conflict is viewed as a major contributing factor to high accident rates observed in the high v/c range, whereas night conditions and driver inattention were identi-fied as explanatory factors for the occurrence of high accident rates in the low v/c ranges.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Zhou M; Sisiopiku VP
  • Start Page

  • 47
  • End Page

  • 52
  • Issue

  • 1581