Economic Analysis of Highway Safety Projects

by R. Clarke Bennett, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Effectiveness of Highway Safety Improvements


The most commonly used economic analysis for highway safety projects is the cost-benefit ratio. While this is a valid analytical tool, it must be used correctly to produce valid results. We must recognize the limitations of the analysis and guard against misapplications. Common misapplications include using benefit-cost analyses to establish safety needs, justify inaction, giving cost savings priority over accomplishments, and taking the results as absolute. By avoiding these pitfalls, we can improve the guidance we obtain from the benefit-cost ratio for safety programing.

Subject Headings: Economic factors | Highways and roads | Safety | Traffic analysis | Traffic safety | Risk management | Highway engineering | Benefit cost ratios

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