Understanding the Effects of Vehicle Platoons on Crash Type and Severity

Kyung (Kate) Hyun, Suman Mitra, Kyungsoo Jeong, Andre Tok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus Citations


Crash type is an informative indicator to infer driving behaviors and conditions that cause a crash. For example, rear-end and side-swipe crashes are typically caused by improper vehicle interaction such as sudden lane-changing or speed control while hit-object crashes are likely the result of a single driver's mistake. This study investigated the impact of vehicles travelling as a group (platoon) and its configuration (i.e., types of vehicles consisting of the platoon) on crash type and severity since the vehicles could affect each other when travelling in close proximity. This study applied Generalized Structure Equation Modeling (GSEM) to capture the complex relationships among the various crash factors such as traffic condition, driver characteristics, environmental conditions, and vehicle interaction to the crash attributes including type and severity. This study collected over 3 million individual vehicle data from 39 traffic count sites in California to estimate the vehicle interactions and driving behaviors. The microscopic traffic data are matched to 1417 crash reports. Results showed that vehicles traveling in platoons are associated with more rear-end and side-swipe crashes. Speed difference in the platoon had a positive effect on hit-object crashes if the platoon comprises vehicles of homogeneous type – either trucks or non-trucks. In addition, human factors such as age and gender were identified as significant influential factors in all type of crashes, however truck involvement particularly played an important role amongst side-swipe crashes. Crash severity was negatively affected by total flow, and rear-end crashes were more likely to be severe compared with hit-object crashes. Based on findings, this study suggests practical operational strategies to reduce traffic instability associated with platooned vehicle patterns. Understanding the high-risk factors for different crash types and severities would provide valuable insights for decision-makers and transportation engineers to develop targeted intervention strategies in consideration of road users and traffic conditions such as fleet mix and speed.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number105858
Number of pages12
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-78824


  • Crash type
  • GSEM
  • Interaction
  • Severity
  • Vehicle platoon


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