Safety performance functions for horizontal curves and tangents on two lane, two way rural roads

Jeffrey P. Gooch, Vikash V. Gayah, Eric T. Donnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Horizontal curves on two-way, two-lane rural roads pose critical safety concerns. Accurate prediction of safety performance at these locations is vital to properly allocate resources as a part of any safety management process. The current method of predicting safety performance on horizontal curves relies on the application of a safety performance function (SPF) developed using only tangent sections and adjusting this value using a crash modification factor (CMF). However, this process inherently assumes that safety performance on curves and tangent sections share the same general functional relationships with variables included in the SPF, notably traffic volumes and segment length, even though research suggests otherwise. In light of this, the goal of this paper is to systematically study the relationship between safety performance and traffic volumes on horizontal curves of two-lane, two-way rural roads and to compare this to the safety performance of tangent sections. The propensity scores-potential outcomes framework is used to help ensure similarity between tangent and curve sections considered in the study, while mixed-effects negative binomial regression is used to quantify safety performance. The results reveal that safety performance on horizontal curves differs significantly from that on tangent sections with respect to both traffic volumes and segment length. Significant differences were also found between the safety performance on tangents and curves relative to other roadway features. These results suggest that curve-specific SPFs should be considered in the next edition of the Highway Safety Manual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-37
Number of pages10
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
StatePublished - Nov 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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