Extracting Rural Crash Injury and Fatality Patterns Due to Changing Climates in RITI Communities Based on Enhanced Data Analysis and Visualization Tools

Climate changes have induced extreme weather conditions, storm surge, and sea level rise, resulting in enormously low temperature, strong wind, heavy snow, flash flood, fog, hurricane, tsunamis, etc. in the Center for Safety Equity in Transportation (CSET) consortium states (Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, and Idaho) and tremendously impacted traffic safety performance by leading to more frequent and serious traffic crashes in Rural, Isolated, Tribal, or Indigenous (RITI) communities. For example, the average annual precipitation is predicted to increase by 15% to 30% by 2100 in Alaska compared to 1971-1999. More precipitation could lead to more mudslides, debris flows, and avalanches, causing more traffic crashes with severe injuries and fatalities. Traffic crashes may increase as thawing permafrost damages Alaska's roads, railroads, airstrips, and trails. In Hawaii, over the next 30 to 70 years, approximately 6,500 structures and 19,800 people statewide will be exposed to chronic flooding. An estimated $19 billion in economic loss would result from chronic flooding of land and structures located in the sea level rise exposure area and approximately 38 miles of coastal roads would be chronically flooded and become impassible, jeopardizing critical access to many RITI communities. Changing climates will influence traffic safety substantially due to roadway infrastructure deteriorations and increased crash risks and injury outcomes. The combination of adverse climate and poor pavement conditions contributes to 18% of fatal crashes and 22% of injury crashes annually. On the other hand, more 50% of fatalities occur on rural roadways and about 20,000 people are killed annually in rural crashes. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) indicates that the fatality rate (fatalities per Vehicle Mile Traveled (VMT)) for rural crashes is more than twice the fatality rate in urban crashes. In Hawaii, the rural crash fatality rate is 195% higher than the urban one and native Hawaiians or other pacific islanders are involved in about 26% of motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2014. Therefore, it is of practical importance to investigate and extract rural crash injury and fatality patterns resulted from adverse weather and climate changes in RITI communities. A crash data analysis and visualization tool will be developed to facilitate online rural crash data interpretation as Phase I in the first year of this two-year project. In the second year, a multinomial Logit model-Bayesian network hybrid approach will be developed as Phase II to discover the underlying injury and fatality patterns of rural crashes impacted by adverse weather and climate changes to identify significant crash contributing attributes in the CSET consortium states. The crash data analysis and visualization tool as well as the research findings are helpful for transportation agencies to develop cost-effective countermeasures to mitigate rural crash injury severities under extreme climate and weather conditions and minimize the rural crash risks and severities in the States of Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Hawaii.