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Quantifying accident risk and severity due to speed from the reaction point to the critical conflict in fatal motorcycle accidents

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journal contribution
posted on 23.04.2020, 08:29 by Peter Murphy, Andrew Morris
In fatal road vehicle accidents motorcycles are overrepresented per vehicle kilometre travelled. Fatal accidents involving motorcycles contain mode specific characteristics, and in common with fatal accidents involving all road users, speed typically presents as a significant contributory factor. The aim of the present study is to provide quantitative estimates for the contribution of speed in situations commencing from the reaction location to the safety critical event involving a motorcyclist and resulting in a fatal accident. The contribution of speed to the resulting accident risk and accident severity is considered from this reaction point. A speed-squared versus stopping distance domain, termed the severity-risk space, is examined to determine the accident measures. The defined accident measures, namely, accident risk, accident severity and accident severity risk are calculated for sixteen fatal accidents from a police dataset of recent UK motorcycle accidents. The estimate of the defined measures are provided in terms relative to values estimated for the vehicle travelling at the speed limit at the safety critical event. The relative accident risk in response to a safety critical situation shows a partial speed dependent reaction phase and a speed squared dependent braking phase and ranges from 1.3 to 2.8. The speed-squared dependent accident severity measure ranges from 1.4 to 7.3 at pre-impact speeds. The relative accident severity risk shows speed squared to speed cubed dependency components during the reaction phase and a speed to the power of four dependent braking phase and ranges from 2.3 to 22.8. In eight cases the collision would have been avoided had the motorcyclist been travelling at the speed limit at the critical point and in the other eight cases the relative accident severity at impact ranged from 1.4 to 17.2. The speed-squared versus stopping distance domain provides an informative parameter space for considering the accident risk and accident severity dimensions of road user accidents.


The data used in this study were collected as part of a study funded by the European Commission.



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Accident Analysis and Prevention




June 2020




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© Elsevier Ltd

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This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention and the definitive published version is available at

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Prof Andrew Morris. Deposit date: 20 April 2020

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