National Case Study for the National Scenic Byways Study: A Study of the Highway Safety Aspects of the Blue Ridge Parkway
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National Case Study for the National Scenic Byways Study: A Study of the Highway Safety Aspects of the Blue Ridge Parkway

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    The objectives of the study were to : 1) identify and document the highway safety and operational consequences associated with travel on the Blue Ridge Parkway and 2) determine the design features and operational characteristics of scenic and recreational roads that are most likely to have the greatest impact on highway safety. During a recent four year period, there were 1,499 accidents on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The accidents rates for this period were : total accident rate = 2.5 accidents/MVMT; injury accident rate = 76.8 accidents/100 MVMT; and the fatal accident rate - 4.0/100 MVMT. When comparing these statistics to rates based on data from other national parks service roads and other roads, the Blue Ridge Parkway fatal accident rate was higher. Single vehicle accidents accounted for 78.6 percent of all accidents. Motorcycles were overrepresented in the accident statistics. The following road features were found to have the greatest impact on highway safety: a) road geometrics- curves and downgrades in combination, and curves alone (adverse impact), b) roadside maintenance-improving sight distance and signing, and replacing wood guardrail with steel-backed, wood guardrail (positive impact), and c) environmental features- fixed objects such as earth embankments, trees, guardrail, and rock outcropping, and points of entry and exit to the Parkway (adverse impact).
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