Quantifying the safety effects of horizontal curves on two-way, two-lane rural roads

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62 Scopus citations


The objective of this study is to quantify the safety performance of horizontal curves on two-way, two-lane rural roads relative to tangent segments. Past research is limited by small samples sizes, outdated statistical evaluation methods, and unreported standard errors. This study overcomes these drawbacks by using the propensity scores-potential outcomes framework. The impact of adjacent curves on horizontal curve safety is also explored using a cross-sectional regression model of only horizontal curves. The models estimated in the present study used eight years of crash data (2005-2012) obtained from over 10,000 miles of state-owned two-lane rural roads in Pennsylvania. These data included information on roadway geometry (e.g., horizontal curvature, lane width, and shoulder width), traffic volume, roadside hazard rating, and the presence of various low-cost safety countermeasures (e.g., centerline and shoulder rumble strips, curve and intersection warning pavement markings, and aggressive driving pavement dots). Crash prediction is performed by means of mixed effects negative binomial regression using the explanatory variables noted previously, as well as attributes of adjacent horizontal curves. The results indicate that both the presence of a horizontal curve and its degree of curvature must be considered when predicting the frequency of total crashes on horizontal curves. Both are associated with an increase in crash frequency, which is consistent with previous findings in the literature. Mixed effects negative binomial regression models for total crash frequency on horizontal curves indicate that the distance to adjacent curves is not statistically significant. However, the degree of curvature of adjacent curves in close proximity (within 0.75 miles) was found to be statistically significant and negatively correlated with crash frequency on the subject curve. This is logical, as drivers exiting a sharp curve are likely to be driving slower and with more awareness as they approach the next horizontal curve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-81
Number of pages11
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Law


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