David Weber, age 23, is a civil engineer in charge of safety improvements for District
7 (and eight-county area within a midwestern state). Near the end of the fiscal year, the
district engineer informs David that delivery of a new snow plow has been delayed, and as
a consequence the district has $50,000 in uncommitted funds. He asks David to suggest a
safety project (or projects) that can be put under contract within the current fiscal
After a careful consideration of potential projects, David narrows his choice to two
possible safety improvements. Site A is the intersection of Main and Oak Streets in the
major city within the district. Site B is the intersection of Grape and Fir Roads in a
Pertinent data for the two intersections are as follows:
|Main road traffic (vehicles/day)
|Minor road traffic (vehicles/day)
|Fatalities per year (3 year average)
|Injuries per year (3 year average)
|PD* (3 year average)
* PD refers to property damage only accidents.
A highway engineering textbook includes a table of average reductions in accidents
resulting from the installation of the types of signal improvements David proposes. The
tables are based on studies of intersections in urban and rural areas throughout the
United States, over the past 20 years.
|% reduction in fatalities
|% reduction in injuries
|% reduction in PD
* Property damage only accidents are expected to increase because of the increase in
rear-end accidents due to the stopping of high-speed traffic in rural areas.
David recognizes that these reduction factors represent averages from intersections
with a wide range of physical characteristics (number of approach lanes, angle of
intersection, etc.); in all climates; with various mixes of trucks and passenger vehicles;
various approach speeds; various driving habits; and so on. However, he has no special
data about Sites A and B that suggest relying on these tables is likely to misrepresent
the circumstances at these sites.
Finally, here is some additional information that David knows about.
(1) In 1975, the National Safety Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration both published dollar scales for comparing accident outcomes, as shown
A neighboring state uses the following weighting scheme:
Fatality 9.5 PD
Injury 3.5 PD
(2) Individuals within the two groups pay roughly the same transportation taxes
(licenses, gasoline taxes, etc.).
Which of the two site improvements do you think David should recommend? What is your
rationale for this recommendation?