An Analysis of Emergency Vehicle Crash Characteristics


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Virginia Tech


Crash data suggests that intersections are areas producing conflicts among the various road users because of entering and crossing movements. Traffic signal control systems may not always be sufficient in preventing collisions at intersections between emergency and other vehicles. The Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study of 2002 illustrates that the second leading cause of fatal injury for firefighters is vehicle collisions. Furthermore, the involvement of an emergency vehicle in a crash can negatively affect the overall efficiency of emergency response services. Thus, there is a need to facilitate the implementation of higher-payoff strategies to improve the safety of emergency vehicle passage through signalized intersections. This research aims to provide a basis for the transportation professionals to identify problem areas and take measures that will potentially enhance intersection safety for emergency vehicles. It includes the presentation and comparison of the EV crash situation in Northern Virginia. The results indicate that 49% of all EV accidents along U.S. Highways in Northern Virginia occurred at signalized intersections. This percentage is 75% along U.S. Highways in Fairfax County, the largest county in Northern Virginia, and it is 79% along U.S. 1 in Fairfax County. The analysis, also, illustrates that the major collision type at signalized intersections was of the angle type, which suggests that an appropriate warning sign may be absent. These findings enhance our understanding of emergency vehicle crash characteristics and thus, may facilitate the identification of possible warrants to be used in determining the appropriateness of installing signal preemption equipment at signalized intersections.



Fairfax County, preemption, GIS, U.S. 1, signalized intersections, Northern Virginia, crash characteristics, emergency vehicles