A clustering approach to integrate traffic safety in road maintenance prioritization

Kira Hyldekær Janstrup*, Mette Møller, Ninette Pilegaard

*Corresponding author for this work

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We combine data on roads and crash characteristics to identify patterns in road traffic crashes with regard to road characteristics. We illustrate how combined analysis of data regarding road maintenance, maintenance costs, road characteristics, crash characteristics, and geographical location can enrich road maintenance prioritization from a traffic safety perspective. The study is based on traffic crash data merged with road maintenance data and annual average daily traffic (AADT) collected in Denmark. We analyzed 3,964 crashes that occurred from 2010 to 2015. A latent class clustering (LCC) technique was used to identify crash clusters with different road and crash characteristics. The distribution of crash severity and estimated road maintenance costs for each cluster was found and cluster differences were compared using the chi-square test. Finally, a map matching procedure was used to identify the geographical distribution of the crashes in each cluster. Results showed that based on road maintenance levels there was no difference in the distribution of crash severity. The LCC technique revealed 11 crash clusters. Five clusters were characterized by crashes on roads with a poor maintenance level (levels 4 and 3). Only a few of these crashes included a vulnerable road user (VRU) but many occurred on roads without barriers. Four clusters included a large share of crashes on acceptably maintained roads (level 2). For these clusters only small variations in road characteristics were found, whereas the differences in crash characteristics were more dominant. The last 2 clusters included crashes that mainly occurred on new roads with no need for maintenance (level 1). Injury severity, estimated maintenance costs, and geographical location were found to be differently distributed for most of the clusters. We find that focusing solely on road maintenance and crash severity does not provide clear guidance of how to prioritize between road maintenance efforts from a traffic safety perspective. However, when combined with geographical location and crash characteristics, a more nuanced picture appears that allows consideration of different target groups and perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)442-448
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Traffic crash
  • latent class clustering
  • prioritization
  • road maintenance
  • traffic safety


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