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Why Are Some Places Crash Hot Spots?

You likely don’t know why some places are crash hot spots and not others. A hot spot is a specific location where auto accidents occur frequently, sometimes in clusters of crashes. Why is there a crash at point A almost daily, but no crashes at point B just a half-mile down the road?Why Are Some Places Crash Hot Spots? -- Altizer Law PC

We all know that intersections, driveways, and roundabouts can make an intersection more dangerous for drivers, or less. We also know that traffic volume has some effect on crash risk in certain places. We also know that crash risks are different at different times of day and in different weather conditions. But why are the risks greater in one particular spot rather than other spots nearby?

The Insurance Journal reported today on a study by researchers from Florida Atlantic University and the University of Pennsylvania, published in the journal of Accident Analysis and Prevention. This study was conducted to understand the relationship between the built environment, exposure, and crash risk. Their goal was to understand how the built environment is more or less dangerous for drivers. They also asked why some hot spots are more likely to result in serious injuries.

Pedestrians and bicyclists may also affect the risk posed in a particular location. Until very recently, they have not been measured in most places. Yet in may locations (particularly in urban and suburban settings) pedestrians and bicyclists could change the risk assessment of a spot.

Knowing what makes a particular place a crash hot spot is necessary to understand why crashes are occurring in a particular spot and what changes in the built environment would make that location less risky. The authors of this research believe that further study would enable engineers and communities to plan and build roads in ways that reduce the specific risks associated with a particular location. The researchers believe that they have identified some variables in built environments that affect crash risk.

Obvious risk factors in many places might include commercial entrances and industrial access for trucks, traffic flow during peak traffic periods, the impact of a nearby school, or other construction near key intersections that increase traffic or accident risk due to distraction. They must also determine the severity of the influence of an element of a built environment in a particular spot, but not in another spot.

This research will open the eyes of some planners and highway designers to the need for additional study and analysis. Only then can analysts determine what specific environmental characteristics and traffic volume is likely to cause or contribute to a majority of the crashes. There are a multitude of risk factors that could make a location a crash hot spot. It will take time and work to gather the data and discover the particular risk factors at work in a specific location.

This research and further research in the future should go far to help us determine what makes a location a crash hot spot. Knowing why some places are crash hot spots will help to reduce the number and severity of crashes in many locations.

If you or a loved one is injured in a “hot-spot” crash, or any other auto, truck or vehicle crash, call Altizer Law, P.C., in Roanoke, VA. Bettina Altizer and her expert team have been helping people who have been injured through no fault of their own for more than 30 years. They understand that after a crash and injuries, you need to rebuild your life. Filing a lawsuit to claim the financial compensation you are entitled to under Virginia law is about the money and about making you whole again.