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Journal Article


Wali B, Khattak AJ, Ahmad N. Accid. Anal. Prev. 2019; 131: 45-62.


Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, The University of Tennessee, USA. Electronic address:


(Copyright © 2019, Elsevier Publishing)






Motorcyclists are vulnerable road users at a particularly high risk of serious injury or death when involved in a crash. In order to evaluate key risk factors in motorcycle crashes, this study quantifies how different "policy-sensitive" factors correlate with injury severity, while controlling for rider and crash specific factors as well as other observed/unobserved factors. The study analyzes data from 321 motorcycle injury crashes from a comprehensive US DOT FHWA's Motorcycle Crash Causation Study (MCCS). These were all non-fatal injury crashes that are representative of the vast majority (82%) of motorcycle crashes. An anatomical injury severity scoring system, termed as Injury Severity Score (ISS), is analyzed providing an overall score by accounting for the possibility of multiple injuries to different body parts of a rider. An ISS ranges from 1 to 75, averaging at 10.32 for this sample (above 9 is considered serious injury), with a spike at 1 (very minor injury). Preliminary cross-tabulation analysis mapped ISS to the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) injury classification and examined the strength of associations between the two. While the study finds a strong correlation between AIS and ISS classification (Kendall's tau of 0.911), significant contrasts are observed in that, when compared to ISS, AIS tends to underestimate the severity of an injury sustained by a rider. For modeling, fixed and random parameter Tobit modeling frameworks were used in a corner-solution setting to account for the left-tail spike in the distribution of ISS and to account for unobserved heterogeneity. The developed random parameters Tobit framework additionally accounts for the interactive effects of key risk factors, allowing for possible correlations among random parameters. A correlated random parameter Tobit model significantly out-performed the uncorrelated random parameter Tobit and fixed parameter Tobit models. While controlling for various other factors, we found that motorcycle-specific shoes and retroreflective upper body clothing correlate with lower ISS on-average by 5.94 and 1.88 units respectively. Riders with only partial helmet coverage on-average sustained more severe injuries, whereas, riders with acceptable helmet fit had lower ISS Methodologically, not only do the individual effects of several key risk factors vary significantly across observations in the form of random parameters, but the interactions between unobserved factors characterizing random parameters significantly influence the injury severity score as well. The implications of the findings are discussed.

Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Language: en


Conspicuity and apparel; Correlated and uncorrelated random parameters; Injury severity score; Motorcycle crash causation; Tobit model


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