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Traffic Safety on Acadia National Park Roadways

Xiao Xiao, Junyu Lu, Peng Gao, Geoffrey Koome Riungu, Mengqing Wang


Travel to Acadia National Park has been rising in the recent past, with over 3.5 million visitors recorded in 2018 (NPS, 2018). With visitation on the rise in Acadia and many of the national parks, there may be increased risks of injuries, and even deaths, from motor vehicle and/or bike crashes. However, statistical relationships between visitation levels and transportation crash-related injuries and fatalities in national parks are not well understood in research on transportation management in parks and protected areas.

The roadways in national parks usually support multiple transportation modes and provide recreation opportunities for visitors such as scenic roads. Previous research suggests that traffic accidents are a leading cause of injuries and fatalities in national parks, but it has not been recognized as a prominent safety issue by the general public. This paper selected Acadia National Park as a study case, aiming at analyzing the temporal patterns of motor vehicle and bike crashes from 2007 to 2012, and to identify the factors associated with the monthly counts of motor vehicle and bike crashes. Study results indicated that the average monthly count of multi-vehicle crashes was much higher than that of single-vehicle crashes. Both motor vehicle and bike crashes were concentrated in the summer season. Simple moving average method was used to calculate the hourly counts of traffic crashes. The average single-vehicle crash counts peaked at 14:00, representing 0.002 crash per hour. Multi-vehicle crash counts were highest between 13:00 and 14:00, representing 0.012 crashes per hour. Poisson Log-linear Regression models were conducted to identify the factors impacting motor vehicle crashes and bike crashes. The results suggested that visitor number was an important factor that associated with both motor vehicle crashes and bike crashes. Also, the number of rain days per month had a significant impact on the count of bike lane crashes but had no significant impact on the count of bike path crashes. Therefore, the study recommended park managers to provide biking education specifically for wet conditions. Results of this study identify the quantitative relationship among monthly visitor number, monthly rain days, and monthly count of traffic crashes, which may help build the indicators and standards of public safety on roadways of national parks. 

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motor vehicle crash; bike crash; national park; visitor number; transportation recreation facility

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