The National Academies

NCHRP 17-43 [Completed]

Long-Term Roadside Crash Data Collection Program

  Project Data
Funds: $1,000,000
Research Agency: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Principal Investigator: H. Clay Gabler
Effective Date: 4/27/2010
Completion Date: 6/30/2021

Roadside crashes account for 35 percent of the fatalities on the nation's highways. Safety professionals have strived to address this problem and have had some success. Continued improvement in roadside safety will depend on improved understanding of the conditions that lead to injuries and fatalities during ran-off-road crashes. There is a fundamental need to collect better and more detailed information about roadside crashes and the conditions under which they occur. The National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) Crashworthiness Data Subsystem (CDS) has collected detailed information on vehicles and occupants for a strategically selected sample of crashes across the country since 1979. This data collection system was designed to provide information regarding vehicle safety performance, and it has proven to be very valuable in developing vehicle countermeasures to reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities in highway crashes. However, the NASS-CDS program collects very little data on the roadway, roadside, and safety features at the site of ran-off-road crashes limiting its usefulness for the analysis of roadside crashes.  Some recent research studies have supplemented the NASS data with road features data for selected crashes. NCHRP Project 17-22 (published as NCHRP Report 665, Identification of Vehicular Impact Conditions Associated with Serious Ran-off-Road Crashes), gathered supplemental roadway and roadside data for selected NASS CDS cases, and the crashes were reconstructed to estimate the impact conditions. It also incorporated the data gathered in NCHRP Project 17-11, Determination of Safe/Cost Effective Roadside Slopes and Associated Clear Distances, and the FHWA Rollover Study to increase the size of the database.  A plan for a long-term accident data collection program was also developed under Project 17-22. The Project 17-22 plan advances the concept of an ongoing, detailed crash data base. This database may incorporate other data, particularly those from new research efforts. While this database will be helpful in answering some current questions, ongoing collection of data will help address the changing fleet, road design, roadside hardware features, and traffic conditions and provide a significant data set for future research. An area of particular importance is the development of an improved procedure to determine the length of need (LON) for longitudinal barriers that considers site-specific conditions and is consistent with the philosophy of only installing barriers that present less risk to the traveling public than the roadside obstacle being shielded. This improved procedure should be rational, simple to apply, and provide consistent, cost-effective results. This will promote greater uniformity of LON application across the country.
The objectives of this project are to (1) supplement the long-term crash data collection program created under NCHRP Project 17-22, (2) investigate options for modifying the database and linking it with other relevant databases, (3) demonstrate the types of analyses that would be possible with a detailed database of roadside crashes, (4) develop an improved procedure for determining longitudinal barrier length of need, and (5) recommend procedures for ongoing collection and management of the database. This research should provide solid evidence that demonstrates the value of having a long-term, detailed roadside crash database that can provide an in-depth, continually growing, data resource applicable to solving roadside safety problems.
STATUS: Research is complete; publication of final report is pending approval.

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