Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Document Type



The state-of-the-practice for most municipal traffic agencies seeking to identify high-risk road segments has been to use prior crash history. While historic traffic crash data is recognized to be valuable in improving roadway safety, it relies on prior observation rather than future crash likelihood. Recently, however, researchers are developing predictive crash methods based on “abnormal driving events.” These include abrupt and atypical vehicle movements thought to be indicative of crash avoidance maneuvers and/or near-crashes. Because these types of near-crash events occur far more frequently than actual crashes, it is hypothesized that they can be used as an indicator of high-risk locations and, even more valuably, to identify where crashes are likely to occur in the future. This thesis describes the results of research that used naturalistic driving data collected from global positioning system (GPS) sensors to locate high concentrations of abrupt and atypical vehicle movements in Baton Rouge, Louisiana based on vehicle rate of change of acceleration (jerk). Statistical analyses revealed that clusters of high magnitude jerk events while decelerating were significantly correlated to long-term crash rates at these same locations. These significant and consistent relationships between jerks and crashes suggest that these events can be used as surrogate measures of safety and as a way of predicting safety problems before even a single crash has occurred.



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Committee Chair

Wolshon, Brian