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SAFETY IMPACTS OF ROAD WEATHER INFORMATION SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION IN ALASKA
Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) help many transportation authorities make informed decisions about winter road maintenance (WRM). The use of RWIS provides a variety of advantages for improving road safety, e.g., detecting conditions when ice is likely to be present on the road surface and providing real time video at select locations on a highway. This study presents a novel approach for considering RWIS as a direct road safety countermeasure and developing a crash modification factor for the use of RWIS in reducing crash rates during the winter season in the state of Alaska. Alaska has 75 RWIS stations across the state highway network some of which have been in use since 2000. To avoid the interaction effect between co-located or proximal RWIS stations, only 26 of the 80 total RWIS stations were considered for this investigation. The impact of RWIS implementation crash rate is examined using an empirical Bayes (EB) method and crash modification factors (CMFs) and three safety performance functions (SPFs) are established. Findings suggest that RWIS implementation has the potential to reduce fatal and serious winter crashes by 36 percent with an expected cost-benefit ratio of approximately 1:27.
SAFETY ANALYSIS OF OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLE USE WITHIN
PUBLIC RIGHTS-OF-WAY IN ALASKA
Off-highway vehicles (OHVs) have been identified as a safety concern in the Alaska State Highway Safety Improvement Plan yet there has been insufficient research dedicated to understanding OHV use in Alaska. This research contributes to a better understanding of on-road OHV use through observational and retrospective analysis. Field-based observations were conducted within highway rights-of-way in 14 strategic locations across Alaska to quantify OHV use and the risk-taking behaviors of riding without helmets, passengers riding without a designated seat, and riding unlawfully on the road. Additional risk factors were identified from the field observations and Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) crash data for the period from 2000 through 2016 and a spatial analysis that identified clusters of crashes by frequency and severity. Frequent OHV use and risk-tolerant behaviors were observed including users riding without helmets and vehicles carrying passengers without a designated seat. Additionally, over half the OHV users were observed to be riding unlawfully using the road. Risk-tolerant behaviors were most frequently observed in communities where on-road use is legal.
ESTABLISHING AND TESTING METHODS FOR DETECTING ANTI-ICING AND DEICING CHEMICALS USING SPECTRAL DATA
Snow and ice accumulation on pavement reduces roadway surface friction and consequently results in diminished vehicle maneuverability, slower travel speeds, reduced roadway capacity, and increased crash risk. Though the use of chlorides and other freeze-inhibiting substances have been shown to reduce these negative factors, methods to quantify and analyze snow and ice remediation methods as well as the imposed loss of material are needed to allow state and municipal agencies to better allocate winter maintenance resources and funding. Using a systematically paired analysis of changes in spectrometric curves as solution concentrations changes, relationships were generated which detected changes in deicing and anti-icing compounds reliably in a lab setting. In-situ field results were less reliable, but promising, and suggests further comparisons and a more in-depth spectral library are needed.
CONNECTING ALASKANS: MIXED-USE SAFETY AND ACCESSIBILITY CHALLENGES IN RURAL ENVIRONMENTS
Alaska has many rural communities that are inaccessible by conventional modes of transportation. However, limited research exists on unconventional transportation modes such as ATVs and snowmachines and the level to which they connect people. This research focuses on Alaska and three primary datasets: the Pacific North West Transportation Survey, the Alaska Trauma Registry and publicly available GIS transportation network and populated place data. The compilation of these three data sets reveal preferences and perceptions of mixed-use safety, a better understanding of the reasons for injuries and fatalities involving ATVs and snowmachines, and potential mixed-use conflict areas by geographic mapping of traumas. Results indicate that ATVs are used for a variety of trip purposes including and are frequently used on and near roadways. ATV-related traumas are more likely in connected places than in isolated places. Highway-connected places have a significantly higher risk of having ATV and snowmachine traumas, likely due to the number of mixed-use scenarios, than places connected by secondary roads.