Report numberRA-MOW-2011-004
TitleThe effect of spatial use and infrastructure on route choice and traffic safety
AuthorsMarjolein de Jong
Stijn Daniels
Tom Brijs
Geert Wets
Published byPolicy Research Centre for Mobility and Public Works, track Traffic Safety 2007-2011
Number of pages75
Document languageDutch
Partner(s)Universiteit Hasselt
Work packageOther: Infrastructure and space

The occurrence of road crashes can be influenced by land use variables, which is also recognized by the current spatial vision on Flanders (Ruimtelijk Structuurplan Vlaanderen). However it is not clear which are the relevant land-use variables having impact on road safety. By an increase of insight in this relation, high risk zones may be detected and the road safety can be improved pro-actively (Lovegrove en Litman 20008). Moreover, when planning and developing new areas, the effects of road safety can be taken into account from the beginning. To be able to do this in an effective way it is necessary to have a better insight in those variables and the way how they can be influenced by planning and design. This study has to be considered as an exploratory study into the relation between road safety and land-use in Flanders. The first part shows an analysis of the relation between road crashes and land-use and road network variables. For the second part of this study we have used actually made trips.


We are able to draw some tentative conclusions based on the analyses of spatial characteristics (road and buildings) at the location of an accident. On roads of a higher category and roads outside built up area, a higher amount and more serious accidents are reported, especially on national roads, both at road sections and intersections. Speed may be one of the explaining variables. If we look at land-use we see a higher accident frequency in residential and shopping areas than can be expected based on the amount of these areas. This outcome corresponds with conclusions from literature. For both residential as shopping areas a plausible explanation could be that these functions generate more trips. Though, in shopping zones along roads of a higher category we find more serious accidents which might be explained by the higher speed and the function of those roads. 


The analysis of actual made trips of 162 persons and the detailed analysis of 6 trips gives insight in the way how the Flemish road network is used and the consequences for road safety. Generally spoken, actual made trips use lower road categories more often and go more often through build up areas than the optimal routes. From the trip patterns it is also possible to detect those areas where a clear road structure is lacking resulting in a more diffuse travel pattern and usage of more dangerous road categories like national roads. Combining the trip with socio-economic information about the person and the purpose of the trip reveals valuable information that can be used for the development of risk profiles and risk areas. Additionally the detailed analysis of the 6 trips gives operational information about the safety of the trip itself. Based on this research we can learn that optimal routes generally spoken have a better road safety score than the actually made trips.


Future research focusing on the analyses of a larger sample with more trips, and different variants of optimal networks is recommended. A detailed analysis of the relation between land-use variables and road crashes could gives more insight in the effect of alternative road categorizations and a optimised use of the road network.

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The Policy Research Centre for Traffic Safety carries out policy relevant scientific research under the authority of the Flemish Government. The Centre is the result of a

cooperation between Hasselt University, KU Leuven and VITO, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research.


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