Road user effect models: the influence of rut depth on traffic safety

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Mika Gustafsson
Mats Wiklund

There are currently no satisfactory effect models for calculating the consequences and costs for road users of different maintenance strategies. The main problems identified by the Transport/Road Administrations in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Estonia, are the relationship between road surface condition and accidents, the effect of the most important state parameter rut depth on road user costs, as well as the role of road-user costs/effects of a road network that is mostly in good condition. These are problems that must be resolved in order to better justify budget allocation for road maintenance. VTI has therefore on commission by the Finnish Transport Administration and with funding from the other Transport/Road Administrations conducted a study to determine the influence of rut depth effects on the accident risk of road users. Separate analyses were made of data from Sweden, Finland and Norway, respectively. It was assumed that the accident risk also depends on other road condition variables, such as longitudinal unevenness, texture, cross slope, geographic location (country), vehicle flow, climate, weather, etc. A model approach was chosen that could address the impact of all these other road condition variables, and the possible interactions between them, on the accident risk. It was assumed that the relationship between accident risk and rut depth is not necessarily a linear function, why rut depth was divided into several categories. It was also agreed that separate equations should be derived for different speed and AADT (Annual average daily traffic) classes. Rut depth categories, as well as speed and AADT classes were chosen to match each country's strategies for maintenance. The overall conclusion of the analysis is that the data does not support any general rules for a maintenance scheme. There are no results to show that deeper ruts generally tend to increase the accident risk. Nor are there results that show that ruts have the same influence on the accident risk for different AADT classes at a given speed or vice versa. There seems to be at increased risk for ruts ? about 15 mm in the highest speed class, but the results differ between AADT classes and are not similar in adjacent speed classes, making the results difficult to understand and less useful to specify the rules for maintenance. For the Norwegian data this trend can not be seen in the highest speed class (> = 90 km/h), but then this speed class differs from the Swedish and Finnish highest speed classes (> = 110 km/h roads and motorways, respectively).

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