Paved Highway Shoulders and Accident Experience

by Clinton L. Heimbach, (M.ASCE), Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC,
William W. Hunter, (A.M.ASCE), Res. Assoc.; Highway Safety Res. Ctr., Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC,
George C. Chao, Biostatistician; Abbott Labs., North Chicago, IL,

Serial Information: Transportation Engineering Journal of ASCE, 1974, Vol. 100, Issue 4, Pg. 889-907

Document Type: Journal Paper


Accident rates for rural two-lane highways having paved shoulders are compared with accident rates for similar highways having only grass or otherwise unstabilized shoulders. The significantly lower accident rates on paved shoulder highways are utilized to develop numerical values for the dollar amount of accident cost reduction directly attributable to the presence of a paved shoulder. Treating the dollars of accident cost reduction as benefits, an investment return analysis is performed relating the benefits to paved shoulder construction costs. Paved shoulder construction costs not exceeding $14,000/mile ($8,699/km), both sides, for 3-4 ft (0.9-1.2 m) wide shoulders can be economically justified on the basis of accident cost reductions for two-lane rural primary highways with average daily traffic volumes greater than 2,000 vehicles per day.

Subject Headings: Traffic accidents | Highway and road shoulders | Construction costs | Occupational safety | Infrastructure construction | Rural areas | Vegetation | Traffic signs

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