Evaluation of Roadside Collisions with Utility Poles and Trees at Intersection Locations

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Mattox, Todd Berry
Hunter, Michael P.
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The United States averages 40,000 traffic fatalities annually. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Roadside Design Guide cites run-off-the-road crashes as contributing greatly to this statistic, with about one-third of all traffic deaths [1]. This number has remained relatively constant over the past four decades, and despite a major increase in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), the rate of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled has declined. However, this relatively large number of run-off-the-road crashes should remain a major concern in all roadway design. The Highway Safety Act of 1966 marks a defining moment in the history of roadside safety [ ]. Before this point, roadways were only designed for motorists who remained on the roadway, with no regard for driver error. As there was no legislation or guidelines concerning roadside design, roadways constructed prior to 1966 are littered with fixed objects directly off of the edge of pavement. Fortunately, many of these roads have reached their thirty year design lives and have become candidates for improvement. The following report examines roadside crashes on nine Atlanta urban arterial roadways. Accident type, severity, and location for all crashes on these were evaluated. It is found roadside collisions with utility poles and trees were more prone to occur at intersection locations than midblock locations. Also for the studied roadway corridors, on average, roadside collisions were more likely to result in serious injury or fatality. Based on these findings initial recommendations are offer for improving clear zone requirements.
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