Examination of Features Correlated with Roadway Departure Crashes on Rural Roads

In 2016 almost half of the traffic fatalities that occurred on Virginia’s roads were the result of roadway departure crashes. Reducing the number and severity of roadway departure crashes is one of the emphasis areas of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan. Significant efforts have been made in the past to reduce roadway departure crashes, but based on the recent fatality statistics cited above, additional concentrated effort on preventing these crashes is called for. This study is being undertaken to identify roadway geometric design, roadside, and traffic characteristics that correlate with roadway departure crashes on rural roads in Virginia. Using the Safety Performance Functions for roadway departure crashes recently developed by the Virginia Transportation Research Council as a starting point, this study will (i) assess the extent of roadway departure crashes on rural roadways in Virginia, (ii) identify how the variation in roadway departure crash frequency and severity is related to roadway, roadside, and traffic characteristics and (iii) present an outline of how that information can be used to formulate mitigation strategies.