Review and ranking of crash risk factors related to the road infrastructure

The objective of this paper is the review and comparative assessment of infrastructure related crash risk factors, with the explicit purpose of ranking them based on how detrimental they are towards road safety (i.e. crash risk, frequency and severity). This analysis was carried out within the SafetyCube project, which aimed to identify and quantify the effects of risk factors and measures related to behaviour, infrastructure or vehicles, and integrate the results in an innovative road safety Decision Support System (DSS). The evaluation was conducted by examining studies from the existing literature. These were selected and analysed using a specifically designed common methodology. Infrastructure risk factors were structured in a hierarchical taxonomy of 10 areas with several risk factors in each area (59 specific risk factors in total), examples include: alignment features (e.g. horizontal-vertical alignment deficiencies), cross-section characteristics (e.g. superelevation, lanes, median and shoulder deficiencies), road surface deficiencies, workzones, junction deficiencies (interchange and at-grade) etc. Consultation with infrastructure stakeholders (international organisations, road authorities, etc.) took place in dedicated workshops to identify user needs for the DSS, as well as “hot topics” of particular importance. The following analysis methodology was applied to each infrastructure risk factor: (i) A search for relevant international literature, (ii) Selection of studies on the basis of rigorous criteria, (iii) Analysis of studies in terms of design, methods and limitations, (iv) Synthesis of findings - and meta-analysis, when feasible. In total 243 recent and high quality studies were selected and analysed. Synthesis of results was made through 39 ‘Synopses’ (including 4 original meta-analyses) on individual risk factors or groups of risk factors. This allowed the ranking of infrastructure risk factors into three groups: risky (11 risk factors), probably risky (18 risk factors), and unclear (7 risk factors).