Identifying significant predictors of injury severity in traffic accidents using a series of artificial neural networks

Dursun Delen, Ramesh Sharda, Max Bessonov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

330 Scopus citations


Understanding the circumstances under which drivers and passengers are more likely to be killed or more severely injured in an automobile accident can help improve the overall driving safety situation. Factors that affect the risk of increased injury of occupants in the event of an automotive accident include demographic or behavioral characteristics of the person, environmental factors and roadway conditions at the time of the accident occurrence, technical characteristics of the vehicle itself, among others. This study uses a series of artificial neural networks to model the potentially non-linear relationships between the injury severity levels and crash-related factors. It then conducts sensitivity analysis on the trained neural network models to identify the prioritized importance of crash-related factors as they apply to different injury severity levels. In the process, the problem of five-class prediction is decomposed into a set of binary prediction models (using a nationally representative sample of 30 358 police-recorded crash reports) in order to obtain the granularity of information needed to identify the "true" cause and effect relationships between the crash-related factors and different levels of injury severity. The results, mostly validated by the findings of previous studies, provide insight into the changing importance of crash factors with the changing injury severity levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-444
Number of pages11
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Artificial neural networks
  • Classification
  • Injury severity
  • Problem decomposition
  • Sensitivity analysis


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