Year

2022

Season

Spring

Paper Type

Master's Thesis

College

College of Computing, Engineering & Construction

Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)

Department

Engineering

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. School of Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Thobias Sando

Third Advisor

Dr. Cigdem Akan

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Ramin Shabanpour

Department Chair

Dr. Osama Jadaan

College Dean

William Klostermeyer

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak caused a shift in traffic patterns that have in turn influenced a change in traffic accident trends. Due to stay-at-home orders that were issued across the United States, transportation agencies reported low traffic demands on highways after the pandemic outbreak. Low traffic volumes are associated with relatively higher speeds that are linked to increased severity of crashes. Several states reported an increase in fatal crashes after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper evaluates the traffic crash trends on three interstates in Florida (I-10, I-75, and I-95) and sheds light on what happened before, during, and after the implementation of lockdown orders. It also assesses traffic crashes for the period after the lockdown orders were lifted.

Crash data for the period from 2018 to 2021 was collected from Signal Four Analytics and the crash frequencies were analyzed. Traffic volume and traffic speed data were obtained from the Regional Integrated Transportation System (RITIS) for the four years and analyzed.

Results show an overall reduction of 20% in total crashes for the period from March to December 2020 compared to a similar period in 2019, and an increase of 4% in total crashes for the period from March to December 2021 compared to a similar period in 2020. Comparing monthly crash counts in 2020 versus those in 2019, it has been observed that the month of April 2020 experienced the most significant increase in the proportion of single-vehicle crashes (hence the greatest decrease in the proportion of multivehicle crashes), increase in the proportion of run-off crashes, and the decrease in the proportion of rear-end crashes. Annual average 15-minute traffic speeds were observed to be higher in 2020 compared to 2018, 2019, and 2021, especially during the AM and PM peak periods.

This study’s findings can inform transportation agencies on how and where to allocate resources aimed at enhancing safety due to a dramatic and unexpected change in mobility trends similar to those caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.

Share

COinS