A Linear Referencing Analysis of Traffic Incidents and Land Cover Changes: A Case Study from Culpeper, Orange, and Spotsylvania Counties, Virginia




Cooke, John Patrick

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Traffic injuries and deaths are a sobering reality on roads throughout Virginia and the United States. Numerous traffic incident studies have been conducted focusing on the spatial distribution and clustering of the identified locations; however, many of these studies do not take into account other environmental factors that change over time (i.e. land cover and site characteristics) and that may have an effect on the number of incidents. In this research, a linear referencing and spatial statistical analysis is performed to identify correlations between changing land cover patterns, site characteristics, and traffic incident patterns along travel corridors within Culpeper, Orange, and Spotsylvania counties in central Virginia. Traffic incident data from 1990 to 2007 and land cover data was referenced to the road network to compute changes in distribution of incidents over the 18 year period. It should be understood that land cover does not directly cause traffic incidents; rather the adjacent land cover is one of several factors that play a role in distracting drivers or increasing traffic volumes. The results show an increase in the number of incidents occurring within suburban and urban areas and a small increase in the overall fatally rate. In addition, the number of incidents in agricultural and forested land cover areas steadily increases over the time period, as well; however, the fatality rate decreases over time. By understanding the relationship between land cover changes, site characteristics, and traffic incidents, it is hoped that this information can be used in conjunction with traffic and land use planning to either prepare for future land use changes or to identify problem areas that may lead to increased traffic incidents.



Traffic incidents, Land cover, Linear referencing, Spatial analysis, SANET, Traffic fatalities