Analysis of Traffic Crashes Involving Pedestrians Using Big Data: Investigation of Contributing Factors and Identification of Hotspots

Kun Xie, Kaan Ozbay, Abdullah Kurkcu, Hong Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study aims to explore the potential of using big data in advancing the pedestrian risk analysis including the investigation of contributing factors and the hotspot identification. Massive amounts of data of Manhattan from a variety of sources were collected, integrated, and processed, including taxi trips, subway turnstile counts, traffic volumes, road network, land use, sociodemographic, and social media data. The whole study area was uniformly split into grid cells as the basic geographical units of analysis. The cell-structured framework makes it easy to incorporate rich and diversified data into risk analysis. The cost of each crash, weighted by injury severity, was assigned to the cells based on the relative distance to the crash site using a kernel density function. A tobit model was developed to relate grid-cell-specific contributing factors to crash costs that are left-censored at zero. The potential for safety improvement (PSI) that could be obtained by using the actual crash cost minus the cost of “similar” sites estimated by the tobit model was used as a measure to identify and rank pedestrian crash hotspots. The proposed hotspot identification method takes into account two important factors that are generally ignored, i.e., injury severity and effects of exposure indicators. Big data, on the one hand, enable more precise estimation of the effects of risk factors by providing richer data for modeling, and on the other hand, enable large-scale hotspot identification with higher resolution than conventional methods based on census tracts or traffic analysis zones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1459-1476
Number of pages18
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017



  • Big data
  • grid cell analysis
  • pedestrian risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Physiology (medical)

Cite this