Applications of machine learning methods in traffic crash severity modelling: current status and future directions

Xiao Wen, Yuanchang Xie, Liming Jiang, Ziyuan Pu, Tingjian Ge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


As a key area of traffic safety research, crash severity modelling has attracted tremendous attention. Recently, there has been growing interest in applying machine learning (ML) methods in this area. However, the lessons and experience learned so far have not been systematically documented and summarised. This is the first article that surveys studies on ML applications in crash severity modelling and has the following major contributions: (1) it provides a comprehensive and critical review of current research efforts; (2) it summarises the successful experience and main challenges (e.g. data and methodology); and (3) it identifies promising research opportunities towards accurate and reliable crash severity modelling and results interpretation. The review results suggest that imbalanced data remains a major issue. Under- and over-samplings are often used to balance crash severity data despite their limitations. Some studies use local sensitivity analysis (LSA) to interpret ML modelling results but ignore the strict assumptions of LSA and omit the joint effects of risk factors. Moreover, very few studies consider the accuracy and reliability of ML model evaluation metrics. Other issues include spatiotemporal correlations, causality, model transferability and heterogeneity. This paper concludes by providing suggestions on model selection and modification to address the identified issues and recommendations for future research. For example, employing advanced ML methods such as graph convolutional networks (GCN) to model spatiotemporal correlations; exploring innovative ways of applying ML methods; and leveraging new developments in ML (e.g. interpretable ML) to derive causal relationships and interpret modelling results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-879
Number of pages25
JournalTransport Reviews
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • artificial neural networks
  • Crash severity
  • decision tree
  • machine learning
  • random forests
  • support vector machines

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