How Traffic Crash Analysis Can Cut Road Construction Costs

Traffic costs you time and money, whether you’re stuck in it on your way to work or designing a road project in a busy location. Economists and engineers have developed standards for assigning monetary values to the benefits and costs of highway projects around the country. For example, an hour of travel associated with business is generally valued at an employee’s wage plus overhead costs. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) recommends that analysts value local personal travel time at 50 percent of average wage.

Traffic AnalysisTraffic crashes are even more difficult (and controversial)to analyze because crashes frequently injury and death. However, a reasonable estimation of crash values is essential to invest an adequate amount in highway safety. As a general rule, medical, legal, property, and other crash-related costs are calculated and added to the estimated amount that drivers are willing to pay to reduce their risk of injury.

Take a look this benefit-cost analysis table put together by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration:

-Benefits and Costs Typically Considered in Benefit-Cost Analysis-
Agency CostsUser Costs/Benefits Associated With Work ZonesUser Costs/Benefits Associated With Facility OperationsExternalities (non-user impacts, if applicable)
Design and Engineering
Land Acquisition
Preservation/Routine Maintenance
Mitigation (e.g., noise barriers)
Vehicle Operating Costs
Travel Time and Delay
Vehicle Operating Costs
Other impacts


Although the main purpose of traffic crash analysis is to reduce traffic crashes and their associated injuries, it has a positive side effect of reducing construction costs too. Crash analysis professionals accumulate and analyze roadway data to predict causal relationships, potential countermeasures, and safety improvements to minimize the frequency and severity of crashes.These are a few of the most important questions involved in crash research:

  • What time of day do most crashes occur?
  • Are road alignment and profile factors in the crashes?
  • Do seasonal/weather factors explain the crashes?
  • To what extent is speed a factor in the crashes?

Crashes are costly, in terms of monetary expenditures and human life. When building a new roadway project, engineers must factor potential crashes into their overall budget. Construction and maintenance costs should be generated and gathered early during the engineering analysis stage of the benefit-cost analysis. Cost estimates should be appropriate for the stage in the project development process, and maintenance costs should include all expected types of routine maintenance.

Our traffic crash analysts use digital mapping software and information databases to collect traffic data and ensure an accurate diagram. Whether you’re building a large scale highway or a subterranean tunnel, traffic analysis saves you time and money. Isn’t it time that you focused on other important aspects of your project and left the traffic hassles to someone else?

Photo credit: modot_stl_photos via Flickr

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