Estimation and prediction of average vehicle occupancies using traffic accident records

Kaiyu Liu, Florida International University


As congestion management strategies begin to put more emphasis on person trips than vehicle trips, the need for vehicle occupancy data has become more critical. The traditional methods of collecting these data include the roadside windshield method and the carousel method. These methods are labor-intensive and expensive. An alternative to these traditional methods is to make use of the vehicle occupancy information in traffic accident records. This method is cost effective and may provide better spatial and temporal coverage than the traditional methods. However, this method is subject to potential biases resulting from under- and over-involvement of certain population sectors and certain types of accidents in traffic accident records. In this dissertation, three such potential biases, i.e., accident severity, driver’s age, and driver’s gender, were investigated and the corresponding bias factors were developed as needed. The results show that although multi-occupant vehicles are involved in higher percentages of severe accidents than are single-occupant vehicles, multi-occupant vehicles in the whole accident vehicle population were not overrepresented in the accident database. On the other hand, a significant difference was found between the distributions of the ages and genders of drivers involved in accidents and those of the general driving population. An information system that incorporates adjustments for the potential biases was developed to estimate the average vehicle occupancies (AVOs) for different types of roadways on the Florida state roadway system. A reasonableness check of the results from the system shows AVO estimates that are highly consistent with expectations. In addition, comparisons of AVOs from accident data with the field estimates show that the two data sources produce relatively consistent results. While accident records can be used to obtain the historical AVO trends and field data can be used to estimate the current AVOs, no known methods have been developed to project future AVOs. Four regression models for the purpose of predicting weekday AVOs on different levels of geographic areas and roadway types were developed as part of this dissertation. The models show that such socioeconomic factors as income, vehicle ownership, and employment have a significant impact on AVOs.

Subject Area

Civil engineering

Recommended Citation

Liu, Kaiyu, "Estimation and prediction of average vehicle occupancies using traffic accident records" (2007). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3299205.