Smartphone navigation apps might be good at calculating the most efficient driving routes, but a study from Texas A&M University shows that the fastest route may not be the safest.
For the study, researchers compared the safest and shortest routes between five metro areas in Texas—Dallas–Fort Worth, Waco, Austin, Houston, and Bryan–College Station. After analyzing more than 29,000 road segments, they found that taking a route with an 8% reduction in travel time could increase the risk of being in a crash by 23%.
“As route guidance systems aim to find the shortest path between a beginning and ending point, they can ‘misguide’ drivers to take routes that may minimize travel time, but concurrently, carry a greater risk of crashes,” Dominique Lord, a professor in the school’s Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said in a release.
The researchers collected and combined road and traffic characteristics, including geometry design, number of lanes and lane width, lighting and average daily traffic, historical crash data, and risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions to analyze and develop statistical models for predicting the risk of being involved in crashes.
Together with co-author Soheil Sohrabi, a postdoctoral research associate in roadway safety at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Lord has published the study’s findings in the journal Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies. The authors have also proposed a new system architecture to find the safest route using current navigation systems.