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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 403560, 8 pages
Research Article

Study on Evaluation Models of Highway Safety Based on Catastrophe Theory

1School of Naval Architecture, Ocean and Civil Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 800 Dongchuan Road, Minhang District, Shanghai 200240, China
2School of Transportation Engineering, Tongji University, 4800 Cao’an Road, Jiading District, Shanghai 201804, China

Received 22 July 2014; Accepted 12 September 2014; Published 29 September 2014

Academic Editor: Wuhong Wang

Copyright © 2014 Hezheng Bi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Evaluating safety performance of first-class highways in China is important due to their high mortality rates. Traditional models for statistical crash prediction and traffic conflict techniques require long periods of data collection which is time-consuming and labor-intensive. This paper introduces a safety evaluation method based on catastrophe theory for highways in China. The method firstly divides the highway into multiple road sections and uses video-based road detection (VRD) system to collect video data of existing road conditions. Then, experienced drivers and experts are invited to watch the collected videos to establish a multilayer safety index system and assign values to bottom indexes. By applying catastrophe theory, a general safety index is derived, which indicates the relative safety level of a road section. Finally, all road sections can be ranked based on the general safety index. A case study shows encouraging results where (1) the safety index is highly correlated with real mortality rates and (2) the safety index successfully identifies most dangerous road sections. The proposed method can be considered as a promising supplementary safety evaluation method that could help traffic engineers to better understand safety implications of first-class highways in China.