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Real-Time Traffic Safety and Operation

Safe Mobility: Challenges, Methodology and Solutions

ISBN: 978-1-78635-224-8, eISBN: 978-1-78635-223-1

Publication date: 18 April 2018


Purpose – This chapter provides details of research that attempts to relate traffic operational conditions on uninterrupted flow facilities (e.g., freeways and expressways) with real-time crash likelihood. Unlike incident detection, the purpose of this line of work is to proactively assess crash likelihood and potentially reduce the likelihood through proactive traffic management techniques, including variable speed limit and ramp metering among others.

Methodology – The chapter distinguishes between the traditional aggregate crash frequency-based approach to safety evaluation and the approach needed for real-time crash risk estimation. Key references from the literature are summarised in terms of the reported effect of different traffic characteristics that can be derived in near real-time, including average speed, temporal variation in speed, volume and lane-occupancy, on crash occurrence.

Findings – Traffic and weather parameters are among the real-time crash-contributing factors. Among the most significant traffic parameters is speed particularly in the form of coefficient of variation of speed.

Research implications – In the traffic safety field, traditional data sources are infrastructure-based traffic detection systems. In the future, if automatic traffic detection systems could provide reliable data at the vehicle level, new variables such as headway could be introduced. Transferability of real-time crash prediction models is also of interest. Also, the potential effects of different management strategies to reduce real-time crash risk could be evaluated in a simulation environment.

Practical implications – This line of research has been at the forefront of bringing data mining and other machine-learning techniques into the traffic management arena. We expect these analysis techniques to play a more important role in real-time traffic management, not just for safety evaluation but also for congestion pricing and alternate routing.




The authors wish to thank several former researchers and students in the University of Central Florida who contributed to this work. To name a few, Dr. Chris Lee of the University of Windsor, Dr. Mohamed Ahmed of the University of Wyoming, Dr. Vikash Gayah of PennState, Dr. Hany Hassan, Dr. Kirolos Haleem, Jeremy Dilmore, Albinder Dhindsa, Ryan Cunningham and Rajashekar Pemmanaboina. The authors also acknowledge the funding of several agencies, including FDOT, CDOT, CFX and the UTC STC consortium led by the University of Tennessee. All opinions are those of the authors.


Abdel-Aty, M., Shi, Q., Pande, A. and Yu, R. (2018), "Real-Time Traffic Safety and Operation", Lord, D. and Washington, S. (Ed.) Safe Mobility: Challenges, Methodology and Solutions (Transport and Sustainability, Vol. 11), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 175-204.



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