Identifying the latent relationships between factors associated with traffic crashes through graphical models

Mehmet Baran Ulak*, Eren Erman Ozguven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Traffic safety field has been oriented toward finding the relationships between crash outcomes and predictor variables to understand crash phenomena and/or predict future crashes. In the literature, the main framework established for this purpose is based on constructing a
modelling equation in which crash outcome (e.g., frequencies) is examined in relation to explanatory variables chosen based on the problem at hand. Despite the importance and success of this approach, there are two issues that are generally not discussed: 1) the latent relationships between factors associated with crashes are oftentimes not the focus of analysis or not observed; and 2) there are not many tools to make informed decisions on which variables might have an impact on the crash outcome and should be included in a safety model, particularly when observations are limited. To address these issues, this paper proposes the use of graphical models, namely a Markov random field (MRF) modelling, Bayesian network modelling, and a graphical XGBoost approach, to disclose relationship topologies of explanatory variables leading to fatal and incapacitating injury pedestrian crashes. The application of graph learning models in traffic safety has a high potential because they are not only useful to understand the mechanism behind the crash occurrence but also can assist in devising accurate and reliable prevention measures by identifying the true variable structure and essential factors jointly acting towards crash occurrence, similar to a pathological
Original languageEnglish
Article number107470
Number of pages13
JournalAccident analysis & prevention
Early online date13 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024


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