Road traffic accidents continue to be a public health problem and are a global issue due to the huge financial burden they place on families and society as a whole. Speed has been identified as a major contributor to the severity of traffic accidents and there is the need for better speed management if road traffic accidents are to be reduced.
Over the years various measures have been implemented to manage vehicle speeds. The use of speed cameras and vehicle activated signs in recent times has contributed to the reduction of vehicle speeds to various extents. Speed cameras use punitive measures whereas vehicle activated signs do not so their use depends on various factors. Engineers, planners and decision makers responsible for determining the best place to mount a speed camera or vehicle activated sign along a road have based their decision on experience, site characteristics and available guidelines (Department for Transport, 2007; Department for Transport, 2006; Department for Transport, 2003). These decisions can be subjective and indications are that a more formal and directed approach aimed at bringing these available guidelines together in a model will be beneficial in making the right decision as to where to place a speed camera or vehicle activated sign is to be made. The use of optimisation techniques have been applied in other areas of research but this has been clearly absent in the Transport Safety sector.
This research aims to contribute to speed reduction by developing a model to help decision makers determine the optimum location for a speed control device.
In order to achieve this, the first study involved the development of an Empirical Bayes Negative Binomial regression accident prediction model to predict the number of fatal and serious accidents combined and the number of slight accidents. The accident prediction model that was used explored the effect of certain geometric and traffic characteristics on the effect of the severity of road traffic accident numbers on selected A-roads within the Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire regions of United Kingdom. On A-roads some model variables (n=10) were found to be statistically significant for slight accidents and (n=6) for fatal and serious accidents.
The next study used the accident prediction model developed in two optimisation techniques to help predict the optimal location for speed cameras or vehicle activated signs. Pattern Search and Genetic Algorithms were the two main types of optimisation techniques utilised in this thesis. The results show that the two methods did produce similar results in some instances but different in others. Optimised results were compared to some existing sites with speed cameras some of the results obtained from the optimisation techniques used were within proximity of about 160m. A validation method was applied to the genetic algorithm and pattern search optimisation methods. The pattern search method was found to be more consistent than the genetic algorithm method. Genetic algorithm results produced slightly different results at validation in comparison with the initial results. T-test results show a significant difference in the function values for the validated genetic algorithm (M= 607649.34, SD= 1055520.75) and the validated pattern search function values (M= 2.06, SD= 1.17) under the condition t (79) = 5.15, p=0.000.
There is a role that optimisation techniques can play in helping to determine the optimum location for a speed camera or vehicle activated sign based on a set of objectives and specified constraints. The research findings as a whole show that speed cameras and vehicle activated signs are an effective speed management tool. Their deployment however needs to be carefully considered by engineers, planners and decision makers so as to achieve the required level of effectiveness. The use of optimisation techniques which has been generally absent in the Transport Safety sector has been shown in this thesis to have the potential to contribute to improve speed management. There is however no doubt that this research will stimulate interest in this rather new but high potential area of Transport Safety.
This is a redacted version of the Thesis: for more information please contact the author. A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.