The crash severity impacts of fixed roadside objects

Jason M. Holdridge, Venkataraman Shankar, Gudmundur F. Ulfarsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Introduction: This study analyzes the in-service performance of roadside hardware on the entire urban State Route system in Washington State by developing multivariate statistical models of injury severity in fixed-object crashes using discrete outcome theory. The objective is to provide deeper insight into significant factors that affect crash severities involving fixed roadside objects, through improved statistical efficiency along with disaggregate and multivariate analysis. Method: The developed models are multivariate nested logit models of injury severity and they are estimated with statistical efficiency using the method of full information maximum likelihood. Results: The results show that leading ends of guardrails and bridge rails, along with large wooden poles (e.g. trees and utility poles) increase the probability of fatal injury. The face of guardrails is associated with a reduction in the probability of evident injury, and concrete barriers are shown to be associated with a higher probability of lower severities. Other variables included driver characteristics, which showed expected results, validating the model. For example, driving over the speed limit and driving under the influence of alcohol increase the probability of fatal accidents. Drivers that do not use seatbelts are associated with an increase in the probability of more severe injuries, even when an airbag is activated. Impact on industry: The presented models show the contribution of guardrail leading ends toward fatal injuries. It is therefore important to use well-designed leading ends and to upgrade badly performing leading ends on guardrails and bridges. The models also indicate the importance of protecting vehicles from crashes with rigid poles and tree stumps, as these are linked with greater severities and fatalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-147
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Safety Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 24 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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