About the research
Current methods of identifying high vehicular-crash locations attempt to quantify impacts. Dollar values are placed on crash-related intangibles to allow for commensurate analysis. Total costs are then used to identify deficient highway segments or intersections. However, the process used to determine cost estimates for damage, injuries, and fatalities is suspect. By combining highway crash and medical records this study evaluates National and Iowa medical cost-component estimates.
The study makes use of NHTSA’s Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System (CODES). The use of CODES data results in estimates of crash cost which are significantly different from those used by FHWA and the Iowa DOT. The sensitivity of locating high crash areas to improved estimates is explored. It is demonstrated that, the identification and ranking process currently used by the Iowa DOT is relatively insensitive to medical costs. That is, even though medical cost represent a significant and difficult-to-quantify portion of total crash cost, changing them results in only minor differences in location rank. Although mitigation prioritization is not found to receive a great benefit from the use of CODES, the system does show promise for other applications, e.g., determining appropriate societal crash costs resulting from various safety improvements.