Planning Department Releases Study of Traffic Crashes to Improve Safety Decision Making

The county’s Planning Department has released a study that will allow decision-makers to make better, more targeted decisions about how to increase transportation safety, officials announced.

The Predictive Safety Analysis is a data-driven tool to estimate the number of crashes on county roads and at intersections, which will allow more proactive approaches to safety issues.

“This marks a shift from primarily focusing in a reactive way on locations where crashes have occurred to more proactive and systemic approaches that identify and treat locations that have high risk for crashes in the future,” Jesse Cohn McGowan, the project’s manager, said in a press release.

The formulas will allow officials to estimate the number of bicycle, pedestrian and motor vehicle crashes by considering “crash setting (urban, suburban, or rural), roadway characteristics (speed limits, traffic signals, and presence of crosswalks), and travel activity levels (the number of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists using a roadway or intersection),” according to the release.

In addition to identifying highest crash risks, it can improve officials’ choices of safety measures such as controlling speeds, safer pedestrian crossings, and intersection controls, among other measures.

The highest concentration of crash risk is in high-speed, high-volume suburban corridors, (think Georgia Avenue and Veirs Mill Road), while the highest average crash risk (per-intersection or per-roadway-segment basis) is in downtown areas such as Silver Spring and Wheaton, especially for pedestrian and bicycle incidents.

In addition, crash risks are disproportionately higher in Equity Emphasis Areas, which are census tracts with high concentrations of low-income individuals and/or racial and ethnic minorities.

“EEAs comprise less than 20% of county intersections and roadway segments, yet 32% of crashes and 29% of crashes resulting in death or severe injury occurred in these areas between 2015 and 2019,” the release reads. “This disparity is greatest for the pedestrian crash types, where EEAs have over 200% higher average crash risk than non-EEAs.”

More information about the report is available online, including the top 200 locations for each type of crash.

Planning Department graphic

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Read More:
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