Surrogate safety measures (SSMs) have been widely used to evaluate crash potential, which is fundamental for the development of effective safety countermeasures. Unlike existing SSMs, which are mainly focused on the evaluation of longitudinal vehicle maneuvering leading to rear-end crashes, this study proposes a new method for estimating crash risk while a subject vehicle changes lanes, referred to as the lane change risk index (LCRI). A novel feature of the proposed methodology is its incorporation of the amount of exposure time to potential crash and the expected crash severity level by applying a fault tree analysis (FTA) to the evaluation framework. Vehicle interactions between a subject vehicle and adjacent vehicles in the starting lane and the target lane are evaluated in terms of crash potential during lane change. Vehicle trajectory data obtained from a traffic stream, photographed using a drone flown over a freeway segment, is used to investigate the applicability of the proposed methodology. This study compares the characteristics of compulsory and discretionary lane changes observed in a work zone section and a general section of a freeway using the LCRI. It is expected that the outcome of this study will be valuable in evaluating the effectiveness of various traffic operations and control strategies in terms of lane change safety.
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