Study: Updates to Crash Prediction Needed


By Charles Pekow — A study from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program suggests that the standard crash prediction modeling system requires revision to better account for circumstances involving bicycles. The Federal Highway Administration has used the Highway Safety Manual since 2010, which was originally designed for cars and does not adequately address cyclist considerations.

In its latest report titled “Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Performance Functions,” the program aims to rectify this issue. The report criticizes the manual’s generalized approach for estimating site-specific pedestrian and bicycle crashes, stating that it lacks sensitivity to conditions influencing such crashes, including exposure and infrastructure. Additionally, it provides insufficient information for evaluating the site-specific impacts of projects aimed at enhancing pedestrian and bicycle safety, especially beyond signalized intersections.

Current crash prediction models for intersections don’t take bicycle or pedestrian traffic into account or give them enough emphasis. Photo by Petar Milošević, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The report emphasizes the need for an update that considers various factors such as differences between urban, suburban, and rural roads, the number of lanes, and one-way versus two-way streets. Despite the majority of bike crashes occurring in metropolitan areas, the study highlights the limited availability of count data for rural areas.

The program recommends standardizing methods for determining bike counts, noting that state and local agencies use varied approaches, each with its limitations. The report acknowledges cost as the primary barrier to collecting pedestrian and bicycle performance data.

For those interested, the report can be downloaded at


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