A Monte-Carlo simulation analysis for evaluating the severity distribution functions (SDFs) calibration methodology and determining the minimum sample-size requirements. Academic Article uri icon


  • Severity distribution functions (SDFs) are used in highway safety to estimate the severity of crashes and conduct different types of safety evaluations and analyses. Developing a new SDF is a difficult task and demands significant time and resources. To simplify the process, the Highway Safety Manual (HSM) has started to document SDF models for different types of facilities. As such, SDF models have recently been introduced for freeway and ramps in HSM addendum. However, since these functions or models are fitted and validated using data from a few selected number of states, they are required to be calibrated to the local conditions when applied to a new jurisdiction. The HSM provides a methodology to calibrate the models through a scalar calibration factor. However, the proposed methodology to calibrate SDFs was never validated through research. Furthermore, there are no concrete guidelines to select a reliable sample size. Using extensive simulation, this paper documents an analysis that examined the bias between the 'true' and 'estimated' calibration factors. It was indicated that as the value of the true calibration factor deviates further away from '1', more bias is observed between the 'true' and 'estimated' calibration factors. In addition, simulation studies were performed to determine the calibration sample size for various conditions. It was found that, as the average of the coefficient of variation (CV) of the 'KAB' and 'C' crashes increases, the analyst needs to collect a larger sample size to calibrate SDF models. Taking this observation into account, sample-size guidelines are proposed based on the average CV of crash severities that are used for the calibration process.

published proceedings

  • Accid Anal Prev

author list (cited authors)

  • Shirazi, M., Reddy Geedipally, S., & Lord, D.

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • Shirazi, Mohammadali||Reddy Geedipally, Srinivas||Lord, Dominique

publication date

  • January 2017