Changes in speed distribution: Applying aggregated safety effect models to individual vehicle speeds

Publisher's full text

This study investigated the effect of applying two aggregated models (the Power model and the Exponential model) to individual vehicle speeds instead of mean speeds. This is of particular interest when the measure introduced affects different parts of the speed distribution differently. The aim was to examine how the estimated overall risk was affected when assuming the models are valid on an individual vehicle level. Speed data from two applications of speed measurements were used in the study: an evaluation of movable speed cameras and a national evaluation of new speed limits in Sweden.

The results showed that when applied on individual vehicle speed level compared with aggregated level, there was essentially no difference between these for the Power model in the case of injury accidents. However, for fatalities the difference was greater, especially for roads with new cameras where those driving fastest reduced their speed the most. For the case with new speed limits, the individual approach estimated a somewhat smaller effect, reflecting that changes in the 15th percentile (P15) were somewhat larger than changes in P85 in this case. For the Exponential model there was also a clear, although small, difference between applying the model to mean speed changes and individual vehicle speed changes when speed cameras were used. This applied both for injury accidents and fatalities. There were also larger effects for the Exponential model than for the Power model, especially for injury accidents.

In conclusion, applying the Power or Exponential model to individual vehicle speeds is an alternative that provides reasonable results in relation to the original Power and Exponential models, but more research is needed to clarify the shape of the individual risk curve. It is not surprising that the impact on severe traffic crashes was larger in situations where those driving fastest reduced their speed the most. Further investigations on use of the Power and/or the Exponential model at individual vehicle level would require more data on the individual level from a range of international studies.

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