A Case Control Study of Speed and Crash Risk, Technical Report 2 Bayesian Reconstruction of Traffic Accidents and the Causal Effect of Speed in Intersection and Pedestrian Accidents
Traffic accident reconstruction has been defined as the effort to determine, from whatever evidence is available, how an accident happened. Traffic accident reconstruction can be treated as a problem in uncertain reasoning about a particular event, and developments in modeling uncertain reasoning for artificial intelligence can be applied to this problem. Physical principles can usually be used to develop a structural model of the accident and this model, together with an expert assessment of prior uncertainty regarding the accident's initial conditions, can be represented as a Bayesian network. Posterior probabilities for the accident's initial conditions, given evidence collected at the accident scene, can then be computed by updating the Bayesian network. Using a possible worlds semantics, truth conditions for counterfactual claims about the accident can be defined and used to rigorously implement a 'but for' test of whether or not a speed limit violation could be considered a cause of an accident. The logic of this approach is illustrated for a simplified version of a vehicle/pedestrian accident, and then the approach is applied to determine the causal effect of speeding in 10 actual accidents.