Exploring the mechanism of crashes with automated vehicles using statistical modeling approaches

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Autonomous Vehicles (AV) technology is emerging. Field tests on public roads have been on going in several states in the US as well as in Europe and Asia. During the US public road tests, crashes with AV involved happened, which becomes a concern to the public. Most previous studies on AV safety relied heavily on assessing drivers’ performance and behaviors in a simulation environment and developing automated driving system performance in a closed field environment. However, contributing factors and the mechanism of AV-related crashes have not been comprehensively and quantitatively investigated due to the lack of field AV crash data. By harnessing California’s Report of Traffic Collision Involving an Autonomous Vehicle Database, which includes the AV crash data from 2014 to 2018, this paper investigates by far the most current and complete AV crash database in the US using statistical modeling approaches that involve both ordinal logistic regression and CART classification tree. The quantitative analysis based on ordinal logistic regression and CART models has successfully explored the mechanism of AV-related crash, via both perspectives of crash severity and collision types. Particularly, the CART model reveals and visualize the hierarchical structure of the AV crash mechanism with knowledge of how these traffic, roadway, and environmental contributing factors can lead to crashes of various serveries and collision types. Statistical analysis results indicate that crash severity significantly increases if the AV is responsible for the crash. The highway is identified as the location where severe injuries are likely to happen. AV collision types are affected by whether the vehicle is on automated driving mode, whether the crashes involve pedestrians/cyclists, as well as the roadway environment. The method used in this research provides a proven approach to statistically analyze and understand AV safety issues. And this benefit is potential be even enhanced with an increasing sample size of AV-related crashes records in the future. The comprehensive knowledge obtained ultimately facilitates assessing and improving safety performance of automated vehicles.




Wang, S., & Li, Z. (2019). Exploring the mechanism of crashes with automated vehicles using statistical modeling approaches. PLoS ONE, 14(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0214550

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